Governor goes maskless at public gathering 1 day after telling residents to wear them

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson appears to have ignored his own advice.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson posted several photos of himself on Saturday interacting with members of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association over the weekend without wearing a mask or practicing appropriate social distancing.

"There is nothing like being in a room full of cattlemen and women," Parson tweeted along with photos of a room full of people on Saturday, most of whom were not wearing masks.

The appearance was in stark contrast with Parson’s tweet one day earlier, in which he told Missourians to "be safe, smart, and responsible over the weekend," and advised them to "social distance" or "wear a mask."

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Parson has thus far refused to issue a statewide face mask requirement.

"I do not plan to put an order in from the governor's office," he told reporters last week.

He added, "Every day in this press briefing we’ve told you if you cannot keep to 6 feet and social distancing, wear a mask."

The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment about Parson's mask-free appearance at the Missouri Cattlemen's Association event.

Missouri reported 3,225 new coronavirus cases in five days last week, the most in a single week since the crisis started.

Parson has taken a hands-off approach since the pandemic started.

In March, he refused to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, even after medical professionals asked him to.

"If things progress as is, COVID-19 patients will deplete the state's available hospital beds, ventilators, and precious personal protection equipment," the Missouri State Medical Association wrote in a letter to Parson on March 23. "Any additional time without a 'shelter-in-place' requirement wastes crucial health care resources, including manpower."

Parson ultimately waited until all 555 school districts in the state had opted to end in-person instruction before issuing an executive order to close schools in the state later that month.

Parson also rushed to reopen businesses in the state in early May, against health experts' advice, even though the pandemic was not yet under control.

"Until we know how far along the epidemic curve we are, we can't really make informed decisions about opening up and how to do that in [a] sensible way," Caroline Buckee, a Harvard epidemiology professor, told CNN in April, speaking about the nationwide response to the virus.

Despite those warnings, on May 1, Parson encouraged residents to make a "special effort" to help the state economy recover by visiting local businesses. He also allowed large gatherings, such as concerts, to take place in the state, relying on venues to take the "necessary precautions" to protect residents.

Cases in Missouri continue to increase. According to the New York Times, the state had 29,173 confirmed cases as of Monday morning, and at least 1,113 people have died.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.