Parson also rejected a push from some within his state to adopt a mask mandate. “You can have the guidelines all day,” he told the Springfield News-Leader in August. “But at the end of the day, someone has to follow these guidelines and say ‘Are we ready to do this? Are we ready to abandon gatherings? Are we ready for social distancing? “(Parson also gained national attention this summer for his controversial comments on the need for schools to reopen.)
All of this brings me to Wednesday, when Parson announced that he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19. “Me and the first lady are both fine,” Parson said in a video announcing the results. “I have been tested. These results, the preliminary results, came back as a positive test. … Right now I’m feeling great – no symptoms of any kind. ”
It is not known exactly how or when, exactly, Parson and his wife contracted Covid-19. Parson is expected to remain in quarantine in the governor’s mansion for the next 10 days.
“We are not helpless against Covid-19,” CDC director Dr Robert R. Redfield said in July. “Sheet masks are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow down and stop the spread of the virus – especially when used universally in a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
Earlier this month, Redfield took it a step further. “I could even go so far as to say that this face mask is safer to protect me from Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity can be 70%,” he said. “And if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine won’t protect me. This face mask will. ”
So the masks work. And yes, to echo Parson’s point, ideally everyone understands this fact and wears a mask when in public. But they don’t. And that’s due, at least in part, to President Donald Trump’s long-standing questioning of the need to wear masks – and his own resistance to wearing one in public.
“He feels good with the mask on, and that’s OK. Anything that makes you feel good, ”Trump said of former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Trump has politicized the wearing of masks so much that Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a Republican, was booed loudly at a Trump rally this week when he tried to get the public to buy masks for the Trump campaign.
It is in this environment that politicians like Parson, who faces a serious re-election challenge in November from state auditor Nicole Galloway, operate. Parson knows that any attempt to push for a mask mandate would meet unified opposition from the Trump wing of the Republican Party. He also knows he needs these grassroots voters if he is to win a full term in 2020.
And so public health expertise and piles of data be damned – Parson has not only refused to consider a mask warrant, but has also been photographed several times without a mask indoors and among crowds. And now he has Covid-19 himself.