Three months ago, the Republican governor of Missouri chose not to wear a mask in a shop, because he said he wasn’t going to let the government tell him what to do. Mike Parson visited a hardware store to celebrate its reopening after he lifted Missouri’s coronavirus lockdown over the objections of health professionals and mayors of major cities.

Parson said the worst of the pandemic was past and the economic impact of the shutdown was worse than the virus. As for masks, the governor dismissively claimed “there was a lot of information on both sides” over whether to wear one so he wasn’t going to require people to do so.

Three months later, Covid-19 is surging in Missouri and in many other parts of the midwest that imagined they had escaped the worst of the pandemic.
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Health specialists predict a sharp increase in deaths across the region in the coming weeks that will be made significantly worse in some states by the politicians who followed Donald Trump’s lead in undermining medical advice and in questioning the value of masks.