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Springfield drops outdoor masking requirement

Missouri’s third-largest city is easing its coronavirus restrictions, at least for outdoor activities.

The Springfield City Council on Monday passed a bill removing the requirement that people wear masks outdoors in most cases. In a news release, the city cited new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that say fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces outdoors anymore unless they are in crowds.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department determined that just 1,043 of the 28,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in those counties since the start of the pandemic were linked to outdoor exposure, with most of those happening at large gatherings such as sporting events.

St. Louis city and county on Monday lifted their limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants, with officials citing a decline in new COVID-19 cases and the increased access to vaccines. Restaurants must still space tables at least 6 feet apart, and masks are required indoors and outdoors if there isn’t enough space to socially distance.

The state health department announced that its weekly review of death records found 66 additional COVID-19-related deaths. Of the 66, 1 each occurred in October, December and February; six were in January; nine were in March; and 48 were in April. All told, Missouri has recorded 8,814 COVID-19 deaths and 503,615 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

CDC data shows that just 38.1% of Missouri residents have received at least one vaccine dose. Inmates are doing better, with 47% of Missouri’s 10,795 inmates having received at least one dose, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

COVID-19 cases among prisoners and staff have declined sharply since early winter. In December, 455 inmates and 129 employees were infected. The Missouri Department of Corrections said the current count shows 23 active cases among inmates and three among employees.

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