When Missouri GOP GOv. Mike Parson's office commissioned a state health department study on the effectiveness of masks in stopping COVID-19 last month, the goal was to show that masks did nothing to stop the spread, and then use that finding to politically pressure city governments in KCMO and STL to drop mask mandates.
The study of course found that masks were wildly effective in reducing the spread of COVID Delta, so Parson's office spiked the study and almost got away with it.
Mask mandates saved lives and prevented COVID-19 infections in Missouri’s biggest cities during the worst part of the delta variant wave, an analysis by the state Department of Health and Senior Services shows.
But the analysis, conducted at the request of Gov. Mike Parson’s office in early November, was never made public and was only obtained by The Missouri Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project after a Sunshine Law request to the department.
The study compared infection and death rates in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County with the rest of the state. New state health Director Donald Kauerauf wrote in an email that the study’s findings showed the effectiveness of mask mandates and forwarded it to Parson’s office.
The analysis wasn’t included in material the department prepared for cabinet meetings, the emails show. Neither the health department nor Parson’s office responded to requests for comment asking why the data has not been shared publicly.
The comparison showed infection rates in “masked” jurisdictions were higher than the rest of the state in the six weeks prior to the emergence of the delta variant. Case rates then fell below other regions as the surge gathered force in late May and have remained lower since that time.
The statewide data shows that, from the end of April to the end of October, jurisdictions with mask mandates experienced an average of 15.8 cases per day for every 100,000 residents compared to 21.7 cases per day for every 100,000 residents in unmasked communities.
The four jurisdictions imposed their mask mandates in late July and early August, as the delta variant wave was peaking.
Mask requirements remain in place in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The Jackson County Legislature voted to end its requirement in early November, and the mandate in Kansas City ended Nov. 5 except for schools and school buses.
There are a number of variables that impact infection and death rates, the health director wrote in a Nov. 3 email. But the effectiveness of masks is clear, he wrote.
"I think we can say with great confidence reviewing the public health literature and then looking at the results in your study that communities where masks were required had a lower positivity rate per 100,000 and experienced lower death rates,” Kauerauf wrote.
Mask mandates saved lives in Missouri's biggest metro areas, but the Republican governor dumped the evidence in the trash. It all goes to show you, Republicans scream about "the science" being true until the science proves their political idiocy wrong.