Governor Mike Parson signed an executive order Friday, declaring a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
This followed a declaration of a national emergency made earlier Friday afternoon by President Donald J. Trump. The national declaration of emergency frees up $50 billion in aid to be made available for areas impacted by the virus.
“As Governor, I have no greater responsibility than to keep all Missourians healthy and safe,” 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. Its purpose is to allow more flexibility in utilizing resources and deploying them around the state where they are most appropriate.
Parson may now 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.
Although there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in this area, precautions are being taken locally.
Jackson R-2 Schools and Notre Dame Regional High School have closed temporarily.
All nonessential face-to-face court is being suspended.
The two local hospitals are limiting access to patients and sending volunteers home. (See related stories on page 2A.)
Restaurants have removed things that normally sit on tables: napkins, menus and condiments, so tables and seating can be sanitized more easily.
Other businesses are taking precautions by separating chairs in waiting rooms, sanitizing shelves, floors and other surfaces.
The Cape Girardeau County History Center has closed for two weeks.
Some churches closed their doors this past weekend; church members stayed home and worshipped by webcast.
Residents are preparing for possible quarantines. Some local store shelves have been wiped clean of paper towels, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and toilet paper.