As Texas and Mississippi prepare to lift statewide mask mandates — despite recommendations against doing so from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson touted the fact his state never instituted a mandate in a social media post on Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, Parson shared public health dashboard data that showed less than 1,000 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Feb. 28, with 213 people in the intensive-care unit and 146 on ventilators.
The state’s positivity rate over the past seven days was 4.5%, according to state data. Missouri’s new cases also dropped 80% in the past three months.
Parson has remained steadfast in his opposition to a statewide mask mandate throughout the pandemic, shifting that decision to municipalities. Rather, the governor repeatedly called for residents to take personal responsibility as it pertains to reducing the spread of the virus.
During a press briefing last summer, he said the issue of wearing masks had become political and it was an individual’s decision on whether or not to wear one. Local governments, however, still had the ability to enforce mask mandates, which several, including Kansas City, Missouri, chose to do.
After making public appearances last summer and, in some instances, not wearing a mask himself, Parson again said it’s a choice people have to make for themselves.
“I’ve been pretty clear the whole time on the mandating of masks,” Parson said during a July press briefing. “I know this mask is a political hot-button now nationally and in the state. If you feel comfortable wearing a mask, you need to wear a mask. By all means, do that.”
The CDC recommends the use of masks in public not just for a person's own safety, but for the safety of those around them.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Missouri has recorded nearly 524,000 cases as of Wednesday and more than 8,700 deaths. Additionally, active COVID-19 cases peaked in November at 123,756.
This story was originally published by Kari Williams on KSHB in Kansas City.