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ST. LOUIS – There is still confusion over whether a mask mandate continues to exist in St. Louis County.
That after no final rulings were made this morning by the Judge overseeing the controversial St. Louis County mask mandate court case.
Judge Ellen “Nellie” Ribaudo held about a half-hour hearing with lawyers for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and attorneys for St. Louis County.
A key issue in the hearing was the impact of a ruling last week by Cole County Judge Daniel Green that bars local governing bodies from imposing COVID-19 health orders like mask mandates.
We’re told the ruling does not officially go into effect until later in December.
An attorney for St. Louis County, Neal Perryman, said county officials are still working through the ruling.
Perryman conceded that county officials took the masking order off the county website following the ruling by Judge Green and that the St. Louis County masking order could now be moot.
But Perryman would not go so far as to say that a mask mandate no longer exists in St. Louis County.
An attorney for Missouri Attorney General’s office, Jeff Johnson, argued it’s not enough that the order was taken down from the website because St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said just yesterday that the mask mandate was still in effect in St. Louis County.
A spokesperson for AG Schmitt says Schmitt wants a preliminary injunction officially ending the second St. Louis County mask mandate announced by County Executive Dr. Sam Page back in September.
Officials with the AG’s office have filed a lawsuit contending the mandate is illegal under state law.
Judge Ribaudo set another meeting for December 9th so that attorneys on both sides could meet and try to work out the various issues that are still outstanding.
Meanwhile, the latest COVID numbers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force show local cases rising again.
The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions is at 48. The Task Force wants that number below 40.
The total number of COVID patients hospitalized is nearly 400. Earlier this month there were just above 250. 82 confirmed COVID patients are now in ICUs.
Less than three weeks ago that number was 53. And there are now 52 confirmed COVID patients on ventilators. Two weeks ago there were just 32.
Tragically 10 more people died from COVID in the latest numbers.
That has pushed our region into double-digit COVID deaths in a single day for the first time in more than two months.
The Pandemic Task Force is expected to address the latest COVID developments later today.
The mask mandate controversy is also on the agenda for tonight’s St. Louis County Council meeting.
The search committee for the next Boston Police commissioner hasn’t settled on any candidates yet, Mayor Michelle Wu said at the start of a meeting geared toward getting locals’ opinions about what they want in the city’s next top cop.
Wu told the 200-plus people assembled that the commission hasn’t “ID’d or spoken with” anyone yet to lead the department, and said that they want to hear from the community first, starting with the meeting Thursday night and then with at least one more.
The suggestions came in largely around what priorities for the new top cop should be. Different people suggested focuses on gun violence, mental health — both responding to calls about it and also the cops’ own wellbeing — response times, “social justice,” gender violence, transparency and accountability for officers who break the rules.
Of course, some people had completely different options about who should be commissioner. One man toward the start of the meeting said the city should look outside the department for a fresh set of eyes and a willingness to shake things up. Near the end, another man said the city should promote from within to find someone who knows the streets.
The next police commissioner will be the first permanent head of the department in what will be more than a year. Now-former Police Commissioner William Gross departed in the early days of last February amid rumors of a mayoral run — though health issues ultimately sidelined him. Then-Mayor Martin Walsh quickly appointed Gross’ replacement, the commissioner’s chief of staff Dennis White, but White only lasted a couple of days on the job before decades-old domestic allegations surfaced.
As tens of millions of Americans continue to battle long-term coronavirus symptoms, Boston researchers are hoping to crack the mystery of Long COVID and what’s sparking the debilitating condition for so many people.
Hub scientists are recruiting adults who had acute COVID-19 more than two months ago and are still experiencing symptoms, such as trouble concentrating and abnormally strong fatigue.
The brain scan study will be done in-person in Charlestown, so the long hauler study participants must be in the Boston area.
“We’re looking to try to understand what’s happening,” neuroscience researcher Michael VanElzakker, with the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Herald on Thursday.
Since VanElzakker put out the call for long haulers on social media, people have been “really appreciative,” he said.
“Those who are dealing with this condition are really worried, and they’re hoping they get studied,” he added.
Nearly 20 million Americans are suffering from Long COVID, which is scientifically termed Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).
That 20 million American estimate is from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Of those 20 million people, about 387,000 long haulers live in Massachusetts.
VanElzakker had been studying chronic fatigue syndrome before the pandemic. Many people with that disease initially have some type of viral infection.
“Studying that, I knew what was coming when COVID hit,” VanElzakker said. “There would be a subset of people who wouldn’t get better.”
Boston College will introduce a free summer enrichment program in June for middle and high schoolers, and an associate’s-degree-granting two-year residential college in 2024, both to broaden opportunities for underrepresented, first-generation students, the university said Thursday.
Both initiatives are part of the university’s $100 million Pine Manor Institute for Student Success, established in 2020 when Boston College and Pine Manor College signed an integration agreement that included a $50 million commitment from Boston College, which has grown to $100 million through investment returns and an anonymous pledge of $25 million.
Through the Pine Minor Institute for Students Success, the residential summer enrichment program for middle and high school students, called the Academy, will be hosted on the BC campus.
“Boston College realizes there are students who need a college degree or an opportunity to do better in middle or high school,” said University President William P. Leahy. “The goal is to match need with opportunity … so that their world’s been widened, their horizon’s been broadened.”
Beginning with a group of 40 middle school students, the Academy will offer summer courses in English, math and science for students nominated by principals, teachers, counselors or religious and community leaders.
During the school year, the students will receive academic support from trained BC success coaches and mentoring from BC undergraduate and graduate students to help the Academy students navigate the journey from middle school to college.
As they advance through high school, students also will receive training in public speaking, time management, SAT/ACT prep, and the college application process. In the summer before their senior year, they will take a college-credit course to help enhance their college readiness.
The two-year college division of Boston College will be called Messina College, named after the first Jesuit school founded in Sicily in 1548. It will offer an associate’s degree program for 100 students annually, beginning in the 2024-25 school year, with the goal of preparing students for continued studies in a bachelor’s degree program or for a professional career.
Messina College will be located on the former Pine Manor College campus in Brookline, and its students will have full access to Boston College’s campus programs and facilities. Successful students will be eligible to apply to transfer to Boston College to complete a bachelor’s degree.
The final component of the Pine Manor Institute will be an ongoing outreach initiative that will provide support for graduates of the Academy and Messina College throughout the completion of their academic studies and into their professional careers.
Together, these offerings aim to expand upon Boston College’s success in educating under-resourced, first-generation students, while continuing Pine Manor College’s legacy of outreach to underserved communities.
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