Missouri governor declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19


Office of Missouri Governor

This photo is courtesty of Google Creative Commons License by the Office of Missouri Governor.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson declared a state of emergency at a press conference Friday, March 13. He spoke and then took questions from the press for around 20 minutes about changes in state funding regarding the virus as well as testing, public schools and future state actions.



Parson said that he is not planning to close public schools, stating that younger people are less likely to be affected by the virus and there have been no cases in schools. He emphasized that the handling of schools in different areas is the decision of districts themselves, mayors and other local health officials. 



Governor Parson signed Executive Order 20-02 Friday, March 13, about 30 minutes prior to his address. He said this will provide $7 million in state funding along with $13 million from federal funding. He emphasized that this executive order was not because Missouri’s healthcare system is unprepared or overwhelmed. This money allows the state government to waive certain state laws and regulations and “direct state agencies to report any unfair market practices.” Parson also said they are working on reviewing federal guidelines regarding flexible health insurance coverage and unemployment benefits. Parson said the $7 million could also be used for additional equipment and testing. 

When asked about the possibility of state employees working from home, Parson said they are considering all options but that it is important for the state to remain open. 

“We are the front lines,” Parson said.

Parson was also asked about the timing of the declaration, which some believe should have come earlier. He responded that the second case was just confirmed today, and public health is the number one priority. 

“At the end of the day, we are responsible for our own actions. If told to self-quarantine, it is important to follow those instructions,” Parson said. “We will continue to evaluate this situation with all options available. [The] state government will continue to operate and provide services to citizens. We will continue to work closely with federal, state, local and emergency personnel.”



Parson also mentioned that Missouri will take steps to expand COVID-19 testing abilities with Washington University in St. Louis and University of Missouri. Currently, Washington University labs have positive samples of COVID-19 that will help increase the number of tests that can be conducted per day. The state lab located in Jefferson City, Mo is currently able to conduct 68 tests a day, but said that it can increase if necessary. Parson said that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) will soon send more testing kits so that there will be 1600 available for the state of Missouri. There have been 94 total tests in Missouri and 90 have come back negative. Today, two individuals tested presumptive positive for the virus, bringing the state total to four. According to Parson, more details are expected to be shared later tonight. 



The governor said he will have regular calls with Vice President Mike Pence, county commissioners and emergency personnel. Parson also said that he plans to meet with Missouri mayors next week. According to Parson, access to state correctional facilities is restricted for 30 days. Access to both state mental health facilities and veteran homes are restricted as well, though Parson did not specify for how long. Additionally, St. Louis County announced earlier in the day that it will not allow gatherings of over 250 people.*

*Update: St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Clair County, Ill. and Madison County, Ill. all have recommended that all public, private, and parochial schools across all five jurisdictions close by Wednesday, March 18 until further notice. Districts will reevaluate closure on April 3.

Saint Louis jurisdictions have banned events and social gatherings with more than 50 people. The order is in effect for eight weeks.

TKC will cover any new updates from KSD as information is released.