Galloway rolls out COVID-19 plan: “A mask requirement is our ticket to freedom”

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway

State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a plan detailing how she would handle the state’s COVID-19 response if elected as Missouri’s governor. She announced the plan as Missouri closes in on 76,000 positive cases since March, including more than 1,400 coronavirus-related deaths. Galloway is making stops this week in Kansas City, Springfield, St. Louis, and Columbia to highlight key points.

In her plan, Galloway says she would call for a statewide mask mandate.

“A mask requirement is our ticket to freedom because it improves our odds that businesses can remain open, schools can return fully to in-person learning, and people can get their jobs back,” she says.

Galloway would have state Health Department data determine the threshold for when K-12 schooling can be fully in-person versus a blended model or 100% online learning. Her plan says a district cannot offer full in-seat learning unless its county case rate is below 10 per 10,000 people.

“Everything depends on the rate of community transmission,” says Galloway. “We can’t get every student back in school until we contain the spread of the virus. Therefore, my strategy on schools is holistic.”

Galloway wants to engage the governors of bordering states and other regional partners to combine purchasing power to boost Missouri’s testing capacity. She cites Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia entering into an interstate compact to buy 3 million rapid antigen tests.

The level of testing Galloway wants to reach is unclear. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams has said the state has a testing capacity of about 90,000 to 100,000 weekly.

Galloway says she would bring together an “emergency medical task force” with public health experts, hospital administrators, and relevant state officials to advise her and offer daily public briefings on COVID-19 and the state’s condition of the virus.

She says the panel would serve as a hub for collecting COVID-19 data, instead of relying on CDC hospitalization data.

“The state should never lose control of its COVID-19 hospitalization data,” she says.

Galloway, a Democrat, faces Republican Governor Mike Parson in November’s election. Parson does not favor a statewide face mask order to help limit the spread of the virus, instead of letting that decision fall to local leaders. He points to more than 50% of the cases being in Missouri’s urban areas.

To view Galloway’s full plan, click here.