The governor's rejection of any kind of mask mandate was punctuated by a graphic depicting a map of Missouri next to his head, which showed that high coronavirus transmission rates are plaguing virtually the entire state.
The governor's comment comes in the wake of the US Centers for Disease Control changing its guidance to recommend fully vaccinated people living in areas with high coronavirus transmission should resume wearing masks indoors.
Earlier this week, St. Louis enacted a city and county wide mask mandate, enraging many of the state's Republican lawmakers, including Mr Parsons.
“Dictating mask mandates when we have the vaccine is ignoring the real solution and eroding public trust. From the very beginning of this pandemic, we have recognised the importance of local control; however, re-imposing mask mandates regardless of vaccination status is WRONG,” Mr Parsons said in a statement.
He complained that mask mandates “don't consider vaccination status reduce the incentive of getting the vaccine and undermine its integrity”. He went on to say that the “vaccine is how we rid ourselves of Covid-19, not mask mandates that ignore common sense”.
Mr Parsons has been supportive of the vaccine drive, and recently enacted a lottery similar to the one held earlier this year in Ohio. Five random drawings will select 180 winners for either $10,000 in cash or $10,000 towards an educations savings account. In total, 900 people will receive awards for getting the vaccine.
St. Louis County Executive Dr Sam Page acknowledged to Fox 2 Now that some vaccinated people may feel frustrated that they have to wear masks again despite receiving the vaccine.
“For those who are vaccinated this can feel like punishment. Punishment for doing the right thing. I have heard that and I feel that frustration. While the vaccine can prevent serious illness it can’t protect you from being infected with COVID-19 and passing it along to someone else, someone who may be more vulnerable,” Dr Page said.
“Until we get more people vaccinated we must continue to do what we can to protect ourselves and others. I wish we had more people vaccinated. But right now, this is where we are.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted in a call earlier this week that the vast majority of transmission is unvaccinated people passing the virus along to other unvaccinated people. She said that while vaccinated people are significantly less likely to pass along the virus, the possibility for transmission remains. As a result, the CDC updated its guidelines.