ST. LOUIS ( -- Hospitals in the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force released a letter announcing their support for St. Louis County Executive Sam Page as county leaders try to limit his powers over pubic health regulations.

In the letter, the group said during the coronavirus pandemic, “St. Louis County has performed significantly better than other jurisdictions in suppressing transmission.”

The St. Louis County Council was scheduled to vote on bills that would require council members to extend public health orders and any state of emergency that is currently in effect or is enacted in the future. If the bills pass and the orders, such as, the mask mandate and occupancy restrictions are not extended, they would automatically expire in 15 days. 

The council was supposed to vote on three bills last Tuesday but never got to because of an influx of public comments.

Council member Tim Fitch who backs two of the bills says they’re not intended to take away control but provide oversight.

“That’s out job of the legislative branch of government, we oversee the executive branch, we don’t take away their power,” Fitch said.

In the letter, addressed to the council, hospital leaders said the public health orders Page put in place made the county in a significantly better place than other counties in the region. These orders, including shelter-in-place, mandatory masks, enforcing social distancing rules at businesses "have been appropriate, scientifically based, and effective measures in combatting this unprecedented pandemic."

"We believe that the current authority granted to the County Executive and Public Health Director of St. Louis County is required to best serve the community and minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, we do not support, and respectfully ask that you reconsider St. Louis County Council Bills 220, 222, and 223.," the letter, signed by by SSM, BJC, Mercy and St. Luke's leaders, reads.

Those leaders mention the colder weather ahead, saying the flu season coming "will amplify the need for evidenced based, timely and effective measures to protect the public against COVID-19."

The county will make a final vote next week.

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