Missouri health departments left scrambling after AG letter

Posted at 5:10 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 18:10:27-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — County health departments across Missouri are scrambling to interpret a letter Tuesday from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt regarding mask and vaccine mandates.

A spokesperson for the Platte County Health Department said they are no longer able to provide any advice to the county’s school districts on matters of quarantine. Additionally, the spokesperson said the AG’s letter prohibits county health officials from issuing any quarantine orders for any communicable disease, not just COVID-19.

“We’ve had the chance to read the letter and consult with legal counsel,” Platte County Health Department spokesperson Aaron Smullin said.

Further out from Kansas City, a mid-Missouri county health department said Thursday it is ending all of its COVID-19-related activity after receiving Schmitt’s letter.

As of Thursday, Dec. 9, the Laclede County Health Department - located northeast of Springfield, Missouri - said it was ceasing all of its COVID-19 related activity, including investigation of COVID-19 cases, contact tracing, quarantine orders and public announcements of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The health department cited a Dec. 7 letter from Schmitt to Local Public Health Agencies across Missouri as the reason for ending it’s COVID-19 efforts.

“While this is a huge concern for our agency, we have no other options but to follow the orders of the Missouri Attorney General at this time,” the health department wrote.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the attorney general’s office said the AG was “grateful” the county had ended their COVID-19 quarantine orders. The spokesperson deferred when asked if the health department’s other measures were appropriate.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported a surge in COVID-19 patients in Missouri hospitals.