Missouri Health Department Reportedly Withheld Info That Mask Mandates Work, Records Show

An analysis by the Missouri state Department of Health and Senior Services revealed that mask mandates do work and prevented COVID-19 infections during the worst part of the Delta variant surge this summer.

However, these results were kept from the public until the Missouri Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project made a Sunshine Law request to the department, Saint Louis Public Radio reported.

The study "compared infection and death rates in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County with the rest of the state," and statewide data showed that for every 100,000 residents, there was an average of 15.8 cases per day in communities with mask mandates, and 21.7 cases per day for every 100,000 residents in communities without mask mandates.

In a thread of emails that included the state Health Director, Donald Kauerauf, and other Missouri health officials, Kauerauf wrote, "[T]here are 'lots' of variables that must be considered before we can definitively assess the impact of wearing a mask [or not wearing a mask] in Missouri before and during the primary Delta period.

"However, I think we can say with great confidence reviewing the public health literature and then looking at the results in your study that communities where masks were required had a lower positivity rate per 100,000 and experienced lower death rates," Kauerauf continued.

This information and data was forwarded from Kauerauf to Alex Tuttle, the governor's legislative budget director, on November 3. But according to the Missouri Independent, "that information was never included in material the department prepared for cabinet meetings, and was never released to the public."

Masks
Missouri state Department of Health and Senior Services revealed that mask mandates prevented COVID-19 cases from rising during the worst part of the Delta variant surge this summer, but that information wasn't made available to the public, according to the Missouri Independent. The department's data showed that for every 100,000 residents, there was an average of 15.8 cases per day in communities with mask mandates. Getty Images

Nick Dunne, a spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, told Saint Louis Public radio that "more than anything, [the data] confirms for us what our public health experts have been saying: that masks are an effective tool for reducing community transmission."

"This data shows that the public health experts, the St. Louis Metropolitan Task Force, and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health make good decisions to protect our community," St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a statement.

However, Chris Nuelle, ​​Press Secretary at Missouri Attorney General's Office, wrote in an email that the analysis will not affect their position regarding mask mandates.

"We dispute this premise and these charts," Nuelle wrote. "We've been clear that Missourians should have the right to make their own decisions, and that government bureaucrats shouldn't be mandating masks or vaccines. We will continue to fiercely litigate our lawsuits against mask mandates in Missouri."