COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said Tuesday that city and county officials will implement a stay-at-home order to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Watch a replay of the news conference in the player below.
The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Treece said during an online news conference from city hall that he made the decision based on the science and direction from public health experts, not based on "public opinion and political pressure."
The order comes as 20 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Boone County, including one death. The state has confirmed 183 cases but that is an undercount -- several local health departments have reported cases that aren't among the state's total.
The local health department says three of the Boone County cases were contracted locally.
Treece said the order is meant to ensure people stay away from each other so that the spread of the novel coronavirus slows.
"Each of our actions affects the health and safety of others, be it our loved ones, or our neighbors," Treece said.
The order will continue through April 24 but could be extended, Treece said.
Columbia Public Schools later extended its closure to April 27 to be in line with the order.
Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said the county will also adopt the order.
Stephanie Browning, director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, said the order was necessary with the number of cases climbing rapidly.
"The numbers are going up, and we need to take action," Browning said. "I prepared this order because the one thing we cannot afford to do is be complacent."
Treece said essential businesses will stay open and essential activities -- such as grocery shopping, curbside pickup from restaurants and medical care -- will not be prohibited.
Officials tried to discourage panic.
“We must all act deliberately and exercise common sense," Atwill said. "Go to the grocery store when you need to and try not to hoard."
Enforcement of the order will be complaint-driven, Treece said. Building and rental inspectors are being retrained to take complaints and visit the subjects of those complaints.
Those who do not cooperate will be referred to the health department, Treece said.
State Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, took to social media to praise the order. Kendrick said he applauds local leaders for issuing it.
Another Columbia Democrat, state Rep. Martha Stevens, also praised the decision.
"We must all do our part to #FlattentheCurve," Stevens wrote in a tweet.
State Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, encouraged constituents to learn about the specifics of the order.
Other metropolitan areas of the state, including Kansas City and St. Louis, have already implemented stay-at-home orders.
The public and members of the press were discouraged from attending the conference in-person, "out of an abundance of caution to practice social distancing." City officials streamed video live online.