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Coronavirus

Parson issues statewide stay-at-home order to slow COVID-19 spread

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Gov. Mike Parson on Friday said he will issue a statewide stay-at-home order with limits on the number of people who can be inside "essential" businesses to slow down COVID-19.

The order will go into effect Monday and will expire April 24.

Parson announced the plan in his daily briefing, moved back from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“There comes a time when we have to make major sacrifices in our lives. Many of us make sacrifices each and every day, but now more than ever, we must all make sacrifices,” Parson said in prepared remarks released as his address began. “This is not about any one individual person. This is about our families, friends, neighbors, and the entire state of Missouri. For the sake of all Missourians, be smart, be responsible, and stay home, Missourians."

Parson's order allows people to travel to get food, gas and medicine. It also allows people to travel to their jobs at businesses considered essential by the Department of Homeland Security.

Of the state’s local health departments 43 had orders already in place Friday afternoon. Those jurisdictions include Boone, Cole, Randolph, Chariton, Osage, Maries and Phelps counties in Mid-Missouri. The state has 114 counties plus the city of St. Louis, but some of those jurisdictions are covered by combined health departments.

Parson had resisted calls for a statewide order as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to climb in recent weeks. The governor cited rural areas where case numbers are lower, saying local officials are in a better position to make such decisions.

In his address Friday, Parson said he as governor has "the power to pick winners and losers" in economic terms, but he believes that power should rarely be used.

The order does not order any non-essential business be closed. Instead, those stores must not allow more than ten people into the store, and those inside must stay six feet apart. Those businesses could waive those rules through the Department of Economic Development.

The order does put limits on how many people can be inside "essential" businesses, like department stores. Parson said these have become "hotbeds" for the spread of COVID-19. A building 10,000-square-feet or smaller can only have up to 25 percent of its fire code occupancy. A bigger building must have fewer than 10 percent of its allowed occupancy.

"That is a tunnel effect where we've allowed a small number of businesses to be open, and people continue to go there with no supervision, with no authority of the numbers that can be in those buildings at any time," Parson said.

He said the order addresses that issue. The order includes limitations on the number of people who can be inside any essential business at one time.

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece took to Twitter to thank Parson for issuing the order, saying the Boone County order has already helped stem the COVID-19 tide.

House Minority Whip Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, said in a prepared statement that such an order should have come sooner.

“While today's executive order by the Governor issuing a statewide shelter-in-place is overdue, it's critically necessary for our healthcare system that we do all we can to flatten the curve,” Kendrick wrote. “I appreciate the leadership of local officials around the state who issued shelter-in-place orders for their jurisdictions. I encourage all Missourians to take the order and the virus seriously. We are all in this together. Let's all do our part.”

Missouri’s cases reached 2,113 on Friday, up from 670 one week before. At least 21 people have died statewide from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Parson's office said in a news release that about 8.5 percent of the more than 24,000 Missouri residents tested for COVID-19 have tested positive. Of those, about 22 percent required hospitalization.

The state has at least one positive case in 76 of its 114 counties, Parson's office said. Most of the cases are concentrated in the St. Louis region, according to the release.

The state has been under a social distancing order prohibiting groups of 10 or more people and closing dine-in areas of restaurants since March 23. That order expires Monday. 

A stay-at-home order requires residents to stay home except for getting essential services such as groceries and health care. On Friday, 39 states and Washington, D.C., were under such orders, including Kansas and Illinois.

The Missouri National Guard along with other state and federal agencies have scouted sites for potential field hospitals if regular hospitals get overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Boone County Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry said Friday that agencies have ruled out the Hearnes Center in Columbia as a field hospital site but are considering Mizzou Arena.

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Matt Ragsdale

Matt Ragsdale is a broadcast and digital producer at ABC 17 News.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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