JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Gov. Mike Parson and several state department directors delivered updates on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday night.
Cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus rose to 24 on Wednesday night, tripling from the known amount of cases on Tuesday morning. The Department of Health and Senior Services was still trying to notify local health agencies where the cases originated before publishing where they came from.
Parson signed another executive order on Wednesday allowing executive branch departments to waive rules enacted by lawmakers "that interfere with Missouri's response to the spread of COVID-19," according to a news release.
Parson once more called on Missourians to follow federal guidelines on keeping away from crowds larger than 10 people and practice social distancing.
"We are still talking about elderly people in the state of Missouri that this has a huge effect on," Parson said. "What it really means when we talk about trying to get people to stay at home if you don't need to go places, what it means to reach out to your family and encourage the same things, what it means when you go to church and maybe you don't go to church and you take care of yourself and your loved ones and your family. It is important to follow those instructions for every one of us."
Dr. Randall Williams, head of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said it was not clear on Wednesday if any of the nine new cases announced Wednesday were instances of "community transmission," where a patient gets the virus from within their area rather than traveling out of state or abroad.
"At some point, it would not be unreasonable to assume we're going to have community transmission, where nobody has a logical reason to have gotten it out of state," Williams said. "It may be true for the ones that came back positive today, that's why we do our epidemiological investigation."
Rob Dixon of the Department of Economic Development said the government is working to get loans to affected businesses.
The state government, Dixon said, has requested for all businesses and nonprofits impacted by the response to COVID-19 to be eligible for federal loans.
The agency behind the loans, the U.S. Small Business Association, has not yet approved the request, Dixon said.
Hospitals and EMS staff would soon get personal protective equipment, or PPEs, from the Strategic National Stockpile, said Department of Public Safety director Sandra Karsten. That includes masks and gowns. Karsten said PPEs would soon be available for agencies like fire protection and police next week.
"We expect the first orders of that to arrive March 24 and we're already making plans to distribute those pieces to our partners," Karsten said.