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All city employees must get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Mayor Tishaura Jones has ordered city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

Jones said in a statement that nearly 6,000 civil service employees would be expected to get the vaccine by Oct. 15 or they will be required to submit to weekly testing. No exceptions will be made, she said.

“St. Louis is joining the ranks of major public and private sector employers across the country who are requiring vaccination to protect public health,” Jones said. “By encouraging vaccinations, we help keep our hospitals running, protect our children, and save lives.”

The mayor cited a growing number of cases, particularly among those 19 and younger, which she said comprise nearly a quarter of newly reported COVID-19 cases. She said children younger than 10 made up about 12% of all new cases, which is greater than at any previous point in the pandemic.

Also Wednesday, attorneys arguing over a mask mandate in St. Louis County were given another day to reach a compromise after they told a judge they were deadlocked during a previous 24 hours of negotiations.

Circuit Judge Ellen Ribaudo gave lawyers for St. Louis County and the Missouri attorney general’s office until 11 a.m. Thursday to reach an agreement or she will make a ruling.

St. Louis County health officials issued a mask mandate on July 26 for indoor public places and on public transportation for everyone 5 and older. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued to stop the county mandate.

Also, to address a substitute teacher shortage, Missouri education officials have permanently reduced requirements needed to become one. The State Board of Education approved a change that will allow people to become substitutes by completing 20 hours of state-approved online training. Previously, substitutes had to complete 60 college credit hours.

The board had approved in August 2020 an emergency order allowing the changed rules in response to a persistent shortage of substitutes made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tuesday’s vote makes the change permanent.

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