Missouri businesses and residents will see restrictions because of the coronavirus until at least May 3.
Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that he is extending his statewide stay-at-home order until that date so the state can prepare to reopen some businesses on May 4.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page also announced indefinite extensions of their orders, which are stricter than the state’s.
“I truly believe we are at the curve and on the downward slope of the virus now,” Parson said in a Facebook Live video. “The decision to move the date from March 24 is simply to start preparing to open up the state of Missouri.”
The moves come as the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to rise. As of Thursday, more than 5,000 people in Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 150 have died.
Parson detailed a four-pronged approach to get businesses open in the state. He wants to see an increase in the state’s personal protective equipment reserves; he plans to monitor, and possibly expand, health care facilities and improve the ability to predict potential outbreaks of the virus.
But the first step in Parson’s plan is expanding testing. He said he hopes to double the state’s capacity by next week, and wants to get to 10,000 tests per day “in the near future.” As of Wednesday, labs across the state, including private ones, had tested 50,432 people.
“Missouri is incredibly diverse, and our reopening efforts will be careful, deliberate and done in phases,” he said of his plan. “The timing may not look the same in every community. Our hardest-hit areas like St. Louis and Kansas City may take longer to fully recover.”
Also on Thursday, governors from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky announced a regional partnership to safely “reopen the economy in the Midwest region.” Parson, when asked if he was included in discussions, said he was not aware of the partnership.
“There’s many ways they could have contacted the governor’s office, but I’m not aware of it,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’ve gotta do what’s right for the state of Missouri, so joining some group to say, ‘Hey, let’s all do this the same way,’ it’s a little different for Missouri.”
Parson’s original stay-at-home order was set to expire on Friday, April 24. Despite the extension, lawmakers are still planning to return to the capitol on Monday, April 27 to work on the state budget.
City, county more cautious
In addition to extending St. Louis’ order indefinitely, Krewson is asking, though not requiring, that businesses that remain open provide protective equipment like masks and gloves to their employees. The city is also asking people to wear masks when they go out in public.
“I recognize that these orders have been very disruptive for folks, inconvenient for folks, and quite frankly downright devastating for businesses and for our workers,” Krewson said. “Our early preventative measures are helping. But we are still a ways away from being able to say that we have flattened the curve.”
Both Krewson and Page say they will re-evaluate in mid-May.
“If we ease our stay-at-home order too soon, then we could rebound and be in a much more difficult and precarious position than we are currently,” Page said at a briefing with reporters on Wednesday. “Our social distancing measures are working, but we’re not there yet.”
An order in St. Charles County, which does not close businesses, also remains in effect indefinitely.
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