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  • Writer's pictureMostafa Marmousa

Jefferson City faith-based group joins call for Cole County mask mandate

JEFFERSON CITY — A Jefferson City-based group that helps citizens targeted by unfair policies and practices has endorsed a citizen-led petition calling for a mask mandate in Cole County. 

On their website, Missouri Faith Voices (MFV) describes their organization as "a multi-faith, multi-racial, statewide, nonpartisan organization" that is committed to helping citizens that have been targeted by "unfair policies and practices and oppressed by racial and economic injustice."

The Jefferson City chapter of MFV on Thursday announced its endorsement of the citizen-led petition for a countywide mask mandate saying their endorsement comes after months of inaction on the issue from Governor Mike Parson.

With Governor Parson’s continued unwillingness to issue a statewide mask mandate to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to brutalize the people of our state, Missouri Faith Voices-Jefferson City Chapter has announced [the] endorsement of the citizen-led petition calling on Cole County Commissioners to issue a countywide mandate requiring that masks be properly worn in all places of public accommodation.

Governor Parson has largely been a proponent of encouraging, but not mandating, mask-wearing; a position he has held strong to since the beginning of the pandemic 10 months ago. 

His decision to not implement a mask mandate has resulted in many jurisdictions implementing mask mandates of their own. Columbia has had a mask mandate for months, Boone County, Fulton and Rolla recently followed suit, and now, Cole County residents are calling for a mask mandate of their own. 

Lead organizer Sue Gibson said she and a group of others in their mid-sixties launched the petition calling on county commissioners to issue an immediate mandate to allow people to move about feeling safe, and able to contribute to the economy.

Upon announcing their endorsement of the petition, MFV Community Organizer Reverend Kimberley Woodruff explained that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted injustices. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the injustices in our country and in our communities," Woodruff said.

She went on to identify three areas of priority concern.

The first being dignity of human life.

“Black and brown people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and by disparities in access to healthcare," she said.

The second was the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has kick-started a cycle of lost wages and lost retail revenue.

Her third and final area of concern was the associated human impact of coronavirus. She said those impacted include, "essential workers; students and educators; and residents of long term care facilities, including veterans, are isolated and demoralized.”

In a news release, MFV cited a nationwide study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis that found that counties that issued mask mandates experienced an increase in consumer spending, including in bars and restaurants, when compared with counties that merely used distancing as a mitigation tool.

Jefferson City Medical Group is also now calling for both a citywide and a countywide mandate, citing the “growing body of scientific evidence [suggesting] that mask use can be the difference between life and death for some Americans." 

Earlier this month, JCMG presented a resolution calling for a mask mandate. 

Part of the resolution read, "There is sufficient clear scientific evidence, that wearing a mask is one of the most effective available tools to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask decreases transmission of the coronavirus and is a readily scalable measure to ensure everyone's health during this pandemic." 

The call for a mask mandate comes as the world begins to see light at the end of the tunnel with the coronavirus vaccine being rolled out all across the nation. Locally, hospitals have begun vaccinating their workers and other at risk groups. 

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