“You don’t need government to tell you to wear a dang mask,” Gov. Mike Parson said on Saturday, July 11 at the 17th annual Missouri Cattlemen's Association Steak Fry in Sedalia.
Parson was speaking indoors and not wearing a mask. He shared social media posts of himself at the event, congregating near people and not wearing a mask.
In so doing, Parson went against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” the CDC states.
Parson, who was born in 1955, is older than 2 years of age.
“COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected,” the CDC states. “That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear cloth face coverings in public settings and practice social distancing (staying at least six feet away from other people).”
The Missouri Cattlemen's Association’s membership is around 5,000 people. Parson himself is a former cattle rancher from Wheatland, Missouri, population 371, 94.1% of them white.
As of July 13, Missouri had reported 27,890 COVID-19 cases and 1,083 related deaths.
“Governor Parson has urged Missourians to social distance and to wear a mask when they can’t maintain distance. Governor Parson then spent the last two weekends sharing photos of himself unwilling to follow his own standards,” said state Auditor Nicole Galloway, who is running for governor.
“On Saturday, speaking indoors in a crowded event, he essentially told people not to wear a mask if they don’t want to. Governor Parson cannot expect Missourians to take his guidelines seriously when he talks out of both sides of his mouth This is a stunning failure of leadership. It appears the only way to get Governor Parson to follow his own advice is to have the director of the Missouri Department of Health intervene with a statewide order on masks. To protect the public health, save jobs and restart our economy – please, wear a mask.”
There is no statewide order to wear a mask. However, St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis have issued public health orders mandating that people wear masks in public.
Despite the evidence that Parson himself distributed of himself not wearing a mask and standing very near other people, a spokesperson for the governor told KMOX: “Governor Parson always makes a conscious effort to social distance or wear a mask, and he recommends all Missourians to do the same.”