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Gov. Parson holds COVID-19 briefing; Missouri to release $61.5 million to K-12 education from CARES Act funding

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks Sept. 16, 2020, in the Missouri Capitol.
KMIZ
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks Sept. 16, 2020, in the Missouri Capitol.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Missouri Governor Mike Parson provided an update this afternoon on COVID-19 in Missouri and the Missouri economy.

You can watch the governor's briefing in the player below.

Governor Parson says he is glad to be part of the 100,000-plus Missourians that have recovered from novel coronavirus.

“We are also thankful and blessed to be two of well over 100,000 people that have recovered from COVID-19,” Governor Parson said.

Parson's also commented on all of his staff is back at work. Yesterday, the governor's office released an update that four staff tested positive. However, later in the press conference, Parson's stated he wouldn't provide updates on his staff out of privacy toward them and their family.

Parson's acknowledged how the Missouri economy has grown since June during the pandemic.

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the state restricted approximately $436 million in spending earlier this year to ensure a balanced budget and the necessary funds to combat the virus moving forward. At the time these budget decisions were made, Missouri’s unemployment rate was projected to be at roughly 16.3 percent.

Currently, Missouri’s actual unemployment rate is at 7 percent – less than half of what was originally projected and lower than the national unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.

“As a result of our Show Me Strong Recovery Plan, we are outpacing our projected budget forecast, and we are now in a position to release some of the funding that was restricted earlier this year,” Governor Parson said. “We are excited to be able to announce these funds today and will continue to evaluate our budget and spending as we move forward.”

Parson says $133 million is being released to critical services in key areas. $95 million is being released through the CARES Act and $40 million will be released through general revenue.

“When we evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on Missouri’s economy and state revenues back in June, we had to make some difficult decisions to keep our budget balanced,” Governor Parson said. “However, we promised to reevaluate our spending after the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, and that is what we have done.”

Of the $100 million in CARES Act funding, $61.5 million will go to K-12 education, which will be distributed to school districts through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on a per-pupil basis.

“Schools continue to face unprecedented challenges this school year,” Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “The added expenses of operating schools during the pandemic is just one of those challenges, so we appreciate Governor Parson providing this relief to schools as they work tirelessly to serve Missouri students and provide each of them the high-quality education they deserve.”

The governor also announced $10 million in COVID-19 relief for private higher education institutions

In addition to $10 million in CARES Act funds for private colleges and universities, $26 million in general revenue will also go to higher education, including public community colleges and four-year higher education institutions.

“Our colleges and universities across the state have worked immensely hard to get students back to learning in a safe manner,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Adapting to this pandemic has caused a financial burden on many institutions, including Missouri’s private schools. All Missouri students should be able to have the support they need during this time, so we are pleased to see CARES Act funding being allocated for this purpose.”

$10 million is also being released for emergency relief grants to child care facilities impacted by COVID-19. Missouri’s licensed, license-exempt, and subsidy (6 or fewer) child care providers will be eligible. 

Providers may seek reimbursement for costs associated with necessary COVID-19 expenditures such as personal protective equipment, additional staffing, overtime and hazard pay, or for loss of revenue associated with business interruption. These funds will help cover losses during the period of March 1 to December 30, 2020.  

Wednesday's briefing is the first since Parson left isolation this week. The governor and first lady tested positive for COVID-19 recently.

The governor said on Sept. 30 Missouri purchased four saliva-based testing machines to be placed in four regions around the state.

Kelli Jones, spokeswoman for the governor's office, said the state used CARES Act funding for the purchase.

Documents from the governor's office said nearly $800,000 was spent on the machines from Fluidigm. The company worked with Washington University in St. Louis to develop the saliva-based tests.

The documents included a little more than $200,000 was spent on warranties, installation, training services and support services.

Machines will be placed in each of Missouri's southwest, southeast, central and Kansas City regions.

It's unclear when the testing machines will go online and when the saliva tests will become available for the general public.

Matt Ragsdale

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

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