Missouri governor and health director ask for safe Fourth of July celebrations

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 9:49 PM CDT
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Independence Day is Saturday, a day to celebrate the freedoms this country guarantees. It's a time traditionally filled with food, fireworks, friends, family and fun. This year, though, the coronavirus is an issue.

Bigger cities like Kansas City and St. Louis have face mask mandates for public indoor settings. Springfield does not, but is considering it. Of course, you don't need a mandate to wear a mask, and Missouri's governor wants you to remember that at your backyard barbecue this weekend.

"What's going to happen, it's the fourth of July, people are going to want to be with their families, be at the lakes, celebrate," said Gov. Mike Parson.

Parson said the true meaning of Independence Day should not be forgotten this year.

"I think number one, just think about how grateful we are to live where we get to live. I think remember what the fourth of july is all about, it's about everybody," Parson said.

Even though we've flattened the curve and loosened restrictions in Missouri, the governor and the state's top health official are reminding you to be safe while celebrating. Dr. Randall Williams is hoping to NOT see a repeat of Memorial Day at Lake of the Ozarks when pools were very crowded.

"Just because it's July fourth and you're outside, to be congregated in a pool, my message for you today would be 50% of people who get COVID-19 don't know where they got it from," Williams said. "So if you think you can identify, the data would not support that. Going into this weekend, even if you're outside, we really, really would encourage you to practice social distancing."

Williams said if you can't be six feet apart, wear a mask and wash your hands often.

"So as we go into the Fourth and we're so thankful for what we're celebrating and the chance here in Missouri that we're able to do that, let's not lose ground and let's practice those basic pillars," Williams said.

Gov. Parson says he does not plan to mandate masks across the state, leaving that to local leaders where it might be necessary. He said it comes down to personal responsibility.

"You don't need government to tell you to wear a mask. Everybody knows the risk, knows the details. If you feel comfortable wearing a mask, you should wear a mask," Parson said.

He said celebrating our country should also mean protecting the ones we love from getting sick.

"We have to understand that this virus is going to be here for a while," he said.

Parson said there is always a risk for an increase in cases in the next couple of weeks after potentially large gatherings this weekend. He said people getting together in backyards for holidays is not as risky as thousands of total strangers standing shoulder to shoulder for a protest, as in recent weeks. He said just wants people in Missouri to celebrate safely.