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Missouri mask mandate included in Galloway’s new coronavirus plan

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said she would be in favor of implementing a statewide mask mandate as part of Missouri’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Galloway, the Democratic nominee for Missouri governor, released her plan to address the global health crisis and efforts to rebuild the state’s economy Monday. Included in her action plan is a statewide mask order, drawing on remarks made during White House Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx’s visit to the Missouri Capitol last week.

“Missouri needs a reset on our coronavirus strategy — and fast,” Galloway said. “Gov. Parson’s strategy isn’t working. Cases continue to be significantly higher than they were in the spring. School districts across the state are delaying their reopening. The lingering effects of the pandemic threaten to hobble a full economic recovery. By focusing on protecting public health and economic recovery, my action plan is aimed at tackling COVID-19 in Missouri in order to prevent new restrictions and avoid shuttering new businesses.”

Parson has continuously refused to issue a statewide mask order, instead leaving the issue up to local governments to make decisions for their communities. During the joint press conference with Birx, Parson noted a number of communities with higher numbers of COVID cases have already implemented mask mandates, including in Columbia, St. Louis, and Kansas City

Galloway’s plan tackled three key areas: protecting public health, rebuilding the economy, and ensuring communities and local governments’ recovery.

The proposal also called for a data-based plan for reopening schools. The plan said Missouri’s Departement of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) should release guidelines on virtual, blended, and in-seat instruction. It also recommended basing a district’s decision on the 14-day positive case rates for the community. 

Fully in-person classes would not be an option unless the area’s positivity rate is below 10 per 10,000, according to her plan. 

The proposal also suggested the creation of an emergency medical task force to brief the public on Missouri’s status with COVID-19, provide recommendations to the governor, and compile data on the virus and the state’s response. 

Galloway suggested assigning a CARES Act funding task force to assist communities in using allotted funds for testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE). The plan also supported a $35 million emergency fund for county governments for costs associated with the transportation and housing of prisoners in county jails.  

The plan would provide relief for workers who test positive and would ensure access to unemployment benefits for eligible workers who are denied sick leave.

Another area of focus was on the impact on the state’s economy and businesses, establishing a department focused on helping minority-owned businesses through uncertain economic conditions and an Economic Relief Council to report to the governor with advice on economic stabilization.

75,944 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Missouri as of Monday, and 1,426 people have died. 

Galloway has been critical of Parson’s handling of the situation, having urged the incumbent governor to call a statewide stay at home order in March. They will face each other for the role of Missouri governor on the November ballot. 

See Galloway’s full plan here

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.