Missourians need to step up and do more on a personal level to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike Parson said last Wednesday during a tour of Patriot Medical Devices in Cape Girardeau. Unlike governors in some other states, Parson does not want to declare a statewide mask mandate or tell people what they can do in their own homes.
“There are still things we’ve got to address on this virus,” he said. “This virus situation continues to climb in the State of Missouri. What we are all going to have to do — me, you, my family, your family — we’re going to have to make sure we do our part, to make sure we do everything we can to limit that exposure.”
The State will be issuing additional guidance to local authorities on what is recommended to limit the spread of the virus. “Now is an important time for all of us in the State of Missouri step up our game a little bit, especially rural Missouri — I will say that, being one of those people from rural Missouri — we’ve got to do our part and protect one another. It can be done.
“We’ve got vaccines that are on the way; they will be here in the near future, but we’ve got a long way to go before everyone gets one of those vaccines. So everything we do in the next 30 days is really important for our state,” Parson said.
Parson still opposes a statewide mask mandate, saying a statewide mandate would not be fair to all parts of this diverse state. Most of Missouri is already under mask mandates through local authorities, he said. It is mandated where it’s thought to be necessary by the people living in those areas. Parson doesn’t believe the State needs to be involved in that decision. “At what point does government stay involved in your lives?” he asked.
Parson is also opposed to the state mandating vaccines when they become available. “Do we really want government to say we’re going to mandate that every man, woman and child take a vaccine? It’s the same thing you’re talking about doing [declaring a statewide mask mandate]. I think you have to be very careful, when you’re governor of the State of Missouri, when you start doing statewide mandates to fit every region of the state.”
The governor is not opposed to wearing masks. “Look, we’ve been adamant since day one, people need to wear a mask. Social distancing is just as important as a mask. If you’re not staying 6 feet away, and you’re hangin’ out with people for hours at a time, you’re going to spread a virus. It’s just that simple.”
He said individuals need to do more to prevent the spread. It’s not about statewide mandates; it’s about people taking personal responsibility to do three things: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and keep their hands clean.
As part of social distancing, Parson recommended “staying away from large gatherings.”
He suggested that Missourians reconsider how they hold Thanksgiving gatherings; perhaps having staggered groups meeting throughout the day to avoid a large gathering at one time, and being especially sensitive to relatives who are older and more susceptible to the virus.
If individuals choose to have a large gathering, they should practice social distancing. “Make sure you understand the [health] risks,” he said.
Parson does not want the State to mandate how Thanksgiving is held in our homes. He believes in protecting the rights of individuals. “Once that door in your house comes open, that’s your house, not the government’s house,” he said.