Doctors join anti-mask protesters as Springfield considers mandate

Dr. Jim Neely and Dr. John Lilly have lent their voice to anti-mask protesters in Missouri. 
This evening, the kind of anti-mask protests that have popped up in Florida and Texas are coming to Springfield.

And several physicians are lending their support to the protesters’ cause.

Event organizer Melianie Taylor, head of Reopen Springfield, expects hundreds of citizens, including several doctors and nurses, in attendance at her group’s anti-mask demonstration outside Springfield City Hall at 6pm.

The Springfield City Council is scheduled to vote on the public masking ordinance later in the night.

“There is substantial evidence that public masking does not reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Jim Neely, a physician and Republican legislator who is running for governor.  

“Mandatory face coverings induce a false sense of security that can be detrimental to the elderly and others who are most susceptible to hospitalization from COVID-19.”

Public masking is not yet required statewide, but Governor Mike Parson has given cities and counties the go ahead to make such mandates for the duration of his emergency declaration, which has been extended until December 30th.

Governor Mike Parson dons a mask while visiting with Coxhealth President and CEO, Steve Edwards, who has advocated for face coverings to be required in Springfield.

Dr. John Lilly, a family medicine physician who lives in Willard, says the COVID-19 pandemic does not meet the World Health Organization’s threshold for continuing the state of emergency.

“What Mayor McClure really needs to do is declare that a state of civil emergency no longer exists, lift all of the restrictions, stop crippling the city economically, and let us get back to normal,” he said.

But some hospital CEOs say that mandating masks could reduce the spread of COVID-19, even if it's not an emergency.

“There’s no science that says when it’s too early because there’s really no harm done with wearing a mask but there is science that may say it’s too late,” said CoxHealth CEO and President, Steve Edwards.

Many citizens plan to defy any mask mandate that the city or state puts in place.

“We are here to take a stand against overreaching government control and to voice our refusal to conform to a mask mandate if passed,” said Taylor.