According to emails obtained using the state Sunshine Law, the analysis
But the governor's office never publicly released the, the report said.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office in November commissioned the state health department to analyze data on mask effectiveness but didn't release the information publicly after it showed they worked to stem COVID-19, according to a report form the Missouri Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project.
According to the report, published Wednesday, Parson's office asked the state health department to commission the study in November. Days later, officials returned data showing comparing the infection and death rates in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City, and Jackson County with the rest of Missouri, according to the report.
The data showed masks were effective, particularly during the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the state, according to the report. The analysis was requested by Alex Tuttle, Parson's liaison to the health department, emails show, according to the report.
The Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project obtained the emails by making a request for them using a Missouri Sunshine Law.
“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,” wrote Donald Kauerauf, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, in a November 3 email, according to the report.
Kauerauf noted that there were a number of other factors that could also contribute to the data, but said it was clear masks were effective, the report said. Public-health experts since the beginning of the pandemic have encouraged face masks as a means to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Scientists from the UK, Australia, and China, recently analyzed more than 70 published studies from across the world and found that, besides vaccination, mask wearing seemed to be the most effective public health measure for combating the coronavirus.
From the end of April through October, the areas in Missouri 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 areas that did not have mask requirements, the data showed, according to the report.
Parson, a Republican, has fiercely opposed both mask mandates and vaccination mandates as tools to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In response to the Missouri Independent report, Parson posted a statement to Facebook on Thursday calling the author of the report, Rudi Keller, the deputy editor Missouri Independent, a “political blogger.”
Parson said Keller “wrote a purposefully misleading article.”
“He handpicked information from a Sunshine request then took the data out of context in order to fit his narrative. He left out important information that provides context for the whole story,” Parson wrote. “This type of 'so called' reporting is unethical and needs to stop because it misleads the public and poses a danger to the credibility of our institutions.”
“There is no definite evidence that proves mandates solely saved lives and prevented COVID-19 infections in Missouri's biggest cities,” he added.
Parson said the data used to create the analysis had been “publicly available on our dashboard for more than a year” and doubled-down on his opposition to mask mandates but said he wasn't “anti-mask.”
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