Gov. Parson declares State of Emergency

 A run on food and supplies by anxious shoppers, thanks to COVID-19 panic, has taken a toll on local markets. While there is reportedly plenty of product in the supply chain, customers shopped with hoarding in mind. Above, the bread aisle at the Mt. Vernon Wal-Mart sits near empty following panic buying by locals. Similar scenes were found in the paper goods and cleaning aisles. Most other products, however, remained in supply. (Photo by Ryan Squibb)

Area residents are bracing themselves as virus COVID-19 slowly creeps into Missouri. In an effort to combat the spread of the flu-like illness, state authorities have taken action to keep people at home, away from large gatherings and now schools. Several state governors declared a state of emergency; including Missouri Governor Mike Parson on March 13. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency for the entire United States, the same day.
Gov. Parson signed Executive Order 20-02 declaring a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Gov. Parson announced the emergency declaration in a press conference last week.
“As governor, I have no greater responsibility than to keep all Missourians healthy and safe,” Gov. Parson said. “After further consideration, we have decided that declaring a state of emergency is the next appropriate step to protect public health.”The Executive Order was not made because the current healthcare system is overwhelmed or unprepared, and it is not intended to close public schools. Schools administrators should seek the guidance of local health officials when thinking about closing their schools.
Rather, the purpose of Executive Order 20-02 is to allow more flexibility in utilizing resources and deploying them around the state where they are most appropriate. By signing this Executive Order, Governor Parson invoked the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan.
Executive Order 20-02 will enable Governor Parson to waive certain state laws and regulations where necessary and direct state agencies to report any unfair market practices. Declaring the state of  emergency will also provide access up to a combined total of approximately $7 million in state funds beyond the federal funds Missouri expects to receive.
“Governor Parson’s actions taken today support our public health preparations here in Missouri that we have been working on daily since January 27,” said DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams. “This gives us a different set of resources that we will use to further our response at both the state and local level.”
In addition to the Executive Order, the state is also taking steps to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities through coordination with the University of Missouri and Washington University laboratories.
The Missouri State Public Health Lab has shared a positive COVID-19 sample with Washington University, which will allow its lab to create a control and conduct testing in the near future. The state is currently in the process of doing the same with the University of Missouri.
This should increase testing capabilities in Missouri by thousands. Additionally, the Missouri State Public Health Lab will soon be receiving more tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pushing its capacity to 1,600 patient tests.
The state is also working to address concerns regarding the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for responders outside of healthcare. The Governor’s Office has been in communication with the Missouri Foundation for Health and will be working jointly with the organization to help identify funding gaps in services and equipment for vulnerable Missouri populations and communities.
In addition to these efforts, the state is also in the process of reviewing federal guidance allowing for additional flexibility in health insurance coverage and unemployment benefits.
Finally, Governor Parson believes Missouri will have the capability to deploy temporary structures in coordination with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency and the Missouri National Guard should the need arise.
“My administration will continue to monitor the situation and all options available to provide the necessary resources,” Gov. Parson said.
The Missouri State Public Health Lab has tested a total of 94 individuals to date. These tests have resulted in 90 negatives, three presumptive positives, and one confirmed positive.
Gov. Parson on CDC recommendations on mass gatherings
Following new recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gov. Parson released the following statement regarding mass gatherings or large community events in Missouri:
“As we are all aware, concerns over COVID-19 continue to grow across the state and the nation. In accordance with CDC recommendations, my administration and I strongly urge the cancellation or suspension of public gatherings of 50 individuals or more with the exception of educational institutions, daycare facilities, and business operations,” Governor Parson said.  “We encourage local governments and health agencies to provide the same guidance. To protect our elderly citizens and those with underlying medical conditions, we would ask them to avoid public gatherings as much as possible.”
“We ask that facilities that attract large concentrations of senior citizens to strongly consider restrictions and closures, in consultation with health authorities, to protect those most vulnerable to this virus,” Gov. Parson continued. “We encourage schools to follow CDC guidelines and consult with local health care providers and public health authorities as decisions are made on whether to keep school in session.”
“I want to emphasize that we are all in this together. Missouri continues to work closely with both federal and local officials in order to maximize coordination and tailor our response appropriately. It takes all of us at the local, state, and federal level along with neighbors, families, and fellow citizens to use common sense and personal responsibility to work through these tough times and protect the health and safety of all Missourians.”
For more information on COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and the DHSS website at www.health.mo.gov/coronavirus. You may also call the DHSS hotline at 877-435-8411 for questions regarding COVID-19 in Missouri. 
 

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Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712
www.lawrencecountyrecord.com

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