On Thursday, a startling announcement appeared on Facebook: “This is to inform you that the Laclede County [Missouri] Health Department has been forced to cease all COVID-19 related work at the current time. This includes: case investigations, contact tracing, quarantine orders, and public announcements of current cases, deaths, etc.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 37% of adults in Laclede County, Missouri, are fully vaccinated, levels of community transmission are high, and cases have increased 13% in just the last week. But now the health department is simply … stepping away.
The reason for this was straightforward enough. And profoundly disgusting.
Laclede County, and counties across Missouri, have been forced to drop all assistance to their communities, even as cases in Missouri are once again rising, because of a threat issued by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. As the Kansas City Star reports, Schmitt wrote to both county officials and school districts across the state on Tuesday, threatening them with legal action if they do not “drop mask mandates, quarantine rules or other public health orders.”
Schmitt has followed up with this official request to parents, posted to his site as the Missouri attorney general, in which he invites parents to report their children’s schools if they do anything—anything—to help protect students against COVID-19.
“Parents are urged to reach out directly to the Attorney General’s Office if their school district is continuing to enforce mask mandates, quarantines, and other similar COVID-19 public health orders.”
Eric Schmitt is running for the Senate. Killing Missourians is his platform.
As the Star reports, Schmitt has “embarked on a quest to overturn COVID-19 mitigation rules in municipalities and school districts across the state.” Schmitt is basing his actions on a ruling from Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green, who declared that the state Department of Health rule allowing it to delegate authority to county officials is “unconstitutional because it gave rulemaking powers to unelected officials.”
The ruling itself is clearly ridiculous. All legislation is enforced by executive branch agencies, and whether it’s the agriculture department or the department of transportation, not just defining the details of policy but delegating some authority to local governments is routine. Otherwise administering any program would be next to impossible. Green almost certainly knows that. Just as he knew that the rule he declared unconstitutional in a time of crisis had been in place for a century.
All that had to happen to reverse Green’s ruling was for the state to make a simple appeal. In fact, that appeal should have been automatic since the ruling seriously undercuts the power not just of local governments, but of the state government. As The Missouri Independent reports, the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services asked Schmitt to appeal the ruling.
And then …
“We have informed DHSS that we will not appeal or take any further action in this case, and that they should begin enforcement efforts immediately,” said Chris Nuelle, spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
By which the attorney general’s office means that the state should start policing counties and schools to make sure that no one, anywhere, is doing anything to help.
In spite of a study from the state department of health that specifically found mask mandates in St. Louis and Kansas City had both decreased cases and saved lives, St. Louis County folded on Thursday, removing its mask mandate under duress from Schmitt.
But some schools are not going quietly. Despite Schmitt’s threat, a handful of districts across the state are continuing to enforce restrictions. Under Schmitt’s interpretation, it’s not just that schools aren’t allowed to have mask mandates, it’s that they can’t even send a student home who is known to have tested positive for COVID-19. They can take no actions to protect their students.
Schmitt is currently filling his official Twitter stream by trumpeting every surrender to his demands as “a huge win.” In his tweets, Schmitt labels any effort to distance students who have tested positive as “segregation” and repeats threats of prosecution to districts that continue to take actions in defense of students.
With President Joe Biden scheduled to come to Missouri, Schmitt also posted a letter—again, in his official capacity as attorney general—in which he blames Biden for inflation and goes on an extended rant about “treadmill tragedies.”
The back to back tweets in which Schmitt promotes his sneering letter to Biden and those in which he threatens actions against schools—not just for masks, but for quarantining ill students—is a vivid display of the fact that Schmitt thinks killing Missourians is his ticket to the Senate. He’s owning the libs by taking actions that directly result in illness, long-term disability, and death for hundreds if not thousands of Missourians. He knows this. He thinks it’s a good thing. For him.
This is, at bare minimum, wanton indifference to the effects of his actions on the health and lives of the citizens of Missouri. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, if that’s not a crime, it certainly should be.