The battle over masks in Missouri continues. Days ago, it was reported that parents of students in Springfield Public Schools were suing the district over their mask mandate. Now, the Missouri Health Department is making the news for withholding a report which shows that mask mandates work as a means of reducing the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
KMOV, a CBS affiliate for the Saint Louis area, has reported that state health officials recognized that mask mandates reduced the number infected during the delta variant surge over the summer but chose not to release the information to the public.
Governor Mike Parsons had requested that the health department conduct a study. They then compared the data on infections and deaths from areas of the state with and without mask mandates and found that those with mask mandates had a reduced risk of becoming infected. Jurisdictions without mask mandates could expect nearly 6 more cases a day per 100,000 people.
A much deeper study, led by researchers from Stanford and Yale, provided a more convincing picture of how helpful masks can be in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Publicized in early September of this year, the randomized study showed that even when less than half of the people within a community wore masks, the risk of infection dropped by 11%. For those over 60, "The protective effect increased to nearly 35%," the study found.
The Missouri Health Department did not only withhold the report from public releases, but did not include it in their presentations at cabinet meetings. Saint Louis NPR has reported that neither the health department nor Governor Parson's office have responded to requests asking why the report showing the life-saving benefits of mask mandates was not shared with Missourians.