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Parson: Mask mandates undermine vaccination effort

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson decried mask mandates Monday, arguing the orders undermine the state’s push to incentivize the COVID-19 vaccines.  

The Republican executive sounded off on the day St. Louis city and county reinstated their mandates for indoor public places, calling on everyone to mask up regardless of vaccination status. Parson said mandates were “ignoring the real solution” and harming the public’s trust in public officials. 

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we have recognized the importance of local control; however, re-imposing mask mandates regardless of vaccination status is WRONG and goes against current CDC guidelines,” Parson said on social media. “These policies that don’t consider vaccination status reduce the incentive of getting the vaccine and undermine its integrity. The vaccine is how we rid ourselves of COVID-19, not mask mandates that ignore common sense.”

The St. Louis order drew the ire of Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who quickly vowed to challenge the order in court

Jones defended the move on social media, saying medical experts in St. Louis told her and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page action was needed after more than 500 St. Louisans died over the course of the pandemic.

“We have to stop the spread of COVID-19, continue to protect each other, and make sure our hospitals can care for those in need,” Jones said. “While some politicians are attacking our region for their own political interests, we are taking action now to protect people.”

Parson has repeatedly denounced mandates over the course of the pandemic, largely emphasizing local control. He also recently signed off on a new law some speculated the latest mandate could violate: HB 271 restricted local officials’ ability to impose health orders and gave local governing bodies the power to block such mandates. 

Jones and Parson have both advocated for Missourians to receive the vaccine as positive cases spike across the state. Missouri unveiled a pair of vaccine incentive programs last week, with one drawing more than 100,000 applicants by the next morning. 

A previous mask mandate was lifted in May. As of Monday afternoon, about 45 percent of St. Louis County residents had been fully vaccinated. The city’s rate sits nearly 10 percent lower. 

In the past seven days, 10,990 cases were confirmed across the state with 18 deaths reported. Nearly 2.9 million Missourians have initiated vaccination as of Monday, amounting to 47 percent of the state’s population while 40 percent have been completely inoculated.