OPINION

The governor's unhelpful pandemic actions

The Examiner

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s political grandstanding is not helping. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week confirmed that the state again is experiencing a significant spread of COVID-19, mainly the Delta variant of the disease. The state is back above more than 1,000 new cases a day and at the moment leads the nation in cases per capita. Hospitalizations statewide are up 60 percent in the last month, and far higher in the Springfield area. 

The reason is straightforward. Restrictions have been eased, people are out in crowds more, and large parts of Missouri have very low vaccination rates. Those are the places – particularly the southwest and north-central parts of the state – where this round of pandemic has hit earliest and hardest. 

And in Missouri, as elsewhere, COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths now are almost entirely among those to remain unvaccinated. 

Parson, to his credit, did reach out for federal help, which is slowly ramping up. But this week he also took a gratuitous – and potentially harmful – shot at the feds as well.  

Masks, social distancing, contact tracing and just common sense – all of those things help. But America has chosen to rely heavily on vaccinations to control and perhaps one day end this pandemic. But Parson, whose administration has done little to address the problem beyond unheeded calls for personal responsibility, is balking at that, too. 

President Biden has floated the idea of having trusted people in the community – doctors, faith leaders, others – go door to door to promote vaccinations, and Parson has overreacted. This week he falsely characterized that as a move to “compel vaccinations” and said he told state health officials to tell the feds to back off. 

The governor is out of line. It looks good politically to stand up to Washington, but this is about lives. He says he’s not running for office again, so what is the point of this harmful rhetoric? 

There is a huge amount of vicious misinformation out there about the vaccines, and any avenue to knock that down and help people overcome their hesitancy about getting a shot is worth looking at.  

The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey Zeints, said those who have mischaracterized the door-to-door idea “are doing a disservice to the country and to the doctors, the faith leaders, the community leaders and others who are working to get people vaccinated, to save lives and help end this pandemic.” 

It’s hard to argue with that. Gov. Parson, please heed common sense and compassion. Stop interfering.