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If it was imperative for Missouri lawmakers to reconvene amid this pandemic, safety should have been a higher concern.

Over the past couple months, we've seen a number of lawmakers sporting their pandemic masks on social media. But photos and video from the House and Senate chambers told a different story.

While some lawmakers wore face masks toward the end of the session, many did not.

Likewise, Gov. Mike Parson hasn't always worn masks at public events. He said it's a "personal responsibility" choice.

Randall Williams, director of Missouri Health and Senior Services, said wearing a mask comes down to "situational awareness," according to the Kansas City Star.

"As we re-emerge, we are certainly cognizant that there are going to be plenty of circumstances where you don't need to do that," Williams said, about wearing a mask, the Star reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (this would include legislative chambers), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also "advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure."

In April, House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, and other legislative leaders told Missourinet that lawmakers would continue to practice social distancing when they returned, and that infection mitigation procedures will continue.

Some of that has happened.

House and Senate staff did what they could to provide a safe environment. Local health care workers — and later, Missouri National Guard members — even took temperatures of lawmakers and other people entering the Capitol.

Lawmakers encouraged constituents to stay involved in state government proceedings remotely. We agreed with that recommendation.

But that doesn't exempt lawmakers from safety measures. Masks could help prevent them from spreading the virus to our community and to other lawmakers while they are here. If lawmakers get infected here, they could potentially have spread the virus to other parts of the state when they returned to their districts.

While face masks' effectiveness have been questioned, they are still considered an important safety measure.

As lawmakers make public appearances in their districts this summer, we hope they'll set good examples by wearing face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

News Tribune

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