KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Missouri surpasses 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19, Gov. Mike Parson said he has no plans to require face masks statewide.
“For people that live in those cities that want to live under those guidelines, that’s their elected leaders’ decisions,” Parson said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
But whether or not to wear masks, according to Parson, has become “a political issue in the media.”
“You have to make a decision as individuals to decide whether you’re going to do that or not. You know the facts of whether to wear one or not,” Parson said. “... I think some of the freedoms that we all have in individual things have to be protected also for everyday people out there – also the ones (who) don’t want to wear a mask should have every right not to wear one if they don’t feel like they want to wear one.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face coverings when around people who are not members of one's household and when social distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained.
While he said the state is on “the road to recovery,” Parson urged residents to continue to be aware of COVID-19.
“This virus is still here and we must continue to protect ourselves and others,” Parson said. “Social distancing is the key. It’s the most important thing we can do. If you can’t social distance, wear a mask or face covering and take additional precautions.”
He said the state has to be able to “move forward,” while protecting public health.
“I’m not so worried about the positive rate – of that number going up,” Parson said. “We watch that every day. But you just can’t take that rate alone and decide really where we’re going with COVID-19. You have to put the hospitalization in there, the ICUs, the ventilators have to be in it. And that’s what we look at every day to make those decisions. So as long as those numbers as a whole are pretty steady, then I think we move forward where we’re at.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 22,000 COVID-19 cases in the state and 1,038 deaths.