Gov. Parson discusses COVID-19 summer surge in Mo.

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:34 PM CDT
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BURFORDVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) - Missouri Governor Mike Parson is focused on the state’s bicentennial this week as he tours historic sites across the state.

But, Missouri’s present battle with the Delta variant continues making national headlines.

We caught up with Governor Parson as he toured the historic Bollinger Mill in Burfordville.

In Cape Girardeau County, 40 percent of residents have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

W asked the governor where we stand with the Delta variant and getting more shots in arms.

“Things are getting a little better in the state,” he said. “We still have a big challenge on there but we are starting to see things in southwest Missouri level off, which is a good sign. We know from dealing with COVID-19 before, once you hit that plateau, then the hospitalizations and things follow after that. So, we’re hoping that. But you know, we’re optimistic about that. But we still know this is a challenge. And we know there are a lot of people out there who are not vaccinated. We’ve got to keep working on that every day, trying to make sure we get as many people as are willing to take the vaccine and want to take the vaccine, that we get that to them.”

“I think in fairness, too, it’s important to realize in January, when we first started getting the vaccine, we knew at that time 45 percent, roughly 45 percent of people in the state would not take the vaccine,” he continued. “We knew there was going to be a hesitancy in that. And I think we’re seeing that. Maybe it’s not what we want to see. But we knew that was going to occur. So, I think from that point on we need to do everything we can to encourage people to take the vaccine. And we’ve also got to understand there’s going to be a certain amount of the population that’s not going to take the vaccine. And we’ve got to figure out how to move forward.”

The governor has long suggested that wearing a mask is a personal choice.

A mask mandate went into effect in Kansas City on Monday, August 2. During an interview, the mayor said a vaccine mandate for city employees, police, fire, other city workers, was not off the table in the city.

We asked Governor Parson what his response to that was.

“Number one, I think when you start talking about mandates, I go back to what I’ve said. Personal responsibility,” he said. “I think the vaccine is the same thing. The government doesn’t have a place to play in mandates of the vaccine. People need to make that decision. Private businesses need to make that decision. But, we are never going to be on that. And as far as the mask mandate, we haven’t changed from where we started with what we feel on the mask mandate. But the other thing I would encourage everybody. And all of a sudden the mask has become the hot issue over the last week or two. But, we need to be talking about the vaccine. The vaccine’s the real answer to get us through this time. I think we need to spin that. And I don’t know what the Kansas City Mayor said today other than what you just told me, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the goal we’ve had all along. We’re going to stay with a balanced approach. And we’re going to continue to do that.”

Initially, the governor was not supportive of vaccine incentives. However, he recently announced the MO VIP vaccine incentive program, which has proved to popular.

We asked if he could see his opinion on masks changing as the situation evolves, if it gets worse.

“Yeah, I think totally two different things,” he responded. “We’re really looking at vaccines. Incentives. We’re all encouraged to take the vaccine. And sure, I don’t like the idea that you almost have to pay somebody to take a vaccine. But that’s kind of the point we got to. But we also understand the delta variant is a very serious part of this virus. And we’ve got to do everything we can do. And this incentive program we have is part of the things we use as tools. We’ll see. I think it’s way too early to see really what affect it did have. But, it looks positive right now. So I’ll be the first to say I’m glad because of people are taking the vaccine, however they take it and they want to take it, I think we want to encourage them to do that.”

Governor Parson also said every day, Missourians are passing up an opportunity to get vaccinated. He said the challenge now is to convince the vaccine hesitant that the shot is effective and readily available.

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