On Monday 26th of July 2021, a new mask mandate has taken into effect in St. Louis area in Missouri in response to the surging cases of the Novel Covid -19 virus that has thus far taken more than ten thousand Missourians. Missouri also had over half a million cases of Covid -19. Yet, Missouri is struggling to vaccinate enough people because Missourians, for one reason or another, have their theories of why they don’t want to be vaccinated.
The need to get residents vaccinated is so desperate that church leaders are taking the lead to encourage and implore people to inoculate themselves against the virus that is currently spreading within the state like wildfire. To appreciate the gravity and the seriousness of the call to get Missourians vaccinated, pastors are telling their flock,
“ you don’t have to choose between God and science,” and “Vaccine hesitancy in our pews puts our congregations and communities at greater risk. Given their safety and availability, receiving a vaccine is an easy way of living out Jesus’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”
While reports are alluding that the strongest opposition to vaccinations comes from white evangelicals, flawed data is making it challenging to track vaccine equity. Nevertheless, the new mask mandates’ strongest opposition comes from politicians who are leveraging the spotlight to garner support for the election.
Missouri’s Attorney General, Mr. Eric Schmitt, running for the US Senate, has filed a lawsuit to stop the new mask mandates introduced in St. Louis County and St. Louis City. In a statement, Eric Schmitt said,
“Today, my office filed suit against St. Louis City and County for reimposing their mask mandate on the citizens of St. Louis. This continued government overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine. There is absolutely no scientific reason to continue to force children to wear a mask in school. Back in May, I filed suit against St. Louis County for continuing to impose such unlawful restrictions, and just three days later, those restrictions were lifted. I will continue to fight this seemingly unending control and intrusion on peoples’ lives — we will not back down.”
While “we will not back down” sounds like a catchy campaign slogan, risking lives for the sole purpose of political gain is not the kind of politician Missouri needs though ultimately, that is a decision for Missourians.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones wasn’t impressed by the Attorney General’s lawsuit. In a Press conference, she reminded Mr. Eric Schmitt of his responsibility to the people of Missouri by saying,
“I wish that he would put more of his attention toward serving the people of the state of Missouri and holding our health and safety paramount instead of filing frivolous lawsuits that waste taxpayer dollars.”
The Attorney-general is not alone in opposing the new mask mandates. Missouri Governor Mike Parson is equally the new rules as he claims mask mandates undermine the integrity of the Covid-19 vaccine. One can be forgiven to wonder how the Governor concluded that taking more measures against the virus undermines vaccines, the last defense against the virus that has killed thousands of his constituents.
In a Tweet, the Governor also said, “Dictating mask mandates when we have the vaccine is ignoring the real solution and eroding public trust.” Going by the statistics, infection rates in the last couple of weeks have increased 180% while Missouri elected leaders are playing politics when they should be taking the lead to stop the surging infection rates that are making hospitals overwhelmed to the point of asking for an alternative care sites.
The new Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus has besieged Missouri, and experts are warning that fall and winter could even be worse than the last. Hospitals are already struggling to cope with the high numbers of the infection. What politicians should be doing is encouraging their constituents to get the vaccine. No doubt more can be achieved by a united leadership focused on taking a stand than the rhetoric and the pseudo-scientific references about masks and their effectiveness. It’s already too late for many Missourians who have been robbed of their lives by the virus. But, it’s not too late to put party and personal politics aside and make the fight against the virus the main and only plan for Missouri. What do you think?
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