JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday defended his decision not to order businesses to close to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Parson, speaking at a daily news conference outside his Capitol office, made comments similar to his justification this week for not ordering schools to close.
Watch the governor's press conference in the player below.
"Making a decision like that is much easier said than done," Parson said of ordering businesses to close. "And to be right honest about it, I don’t think it is the right thing to do at this time.”
Parson said the decision is best left to local leaders who understand their communities and their local economies. He praised decisions by urban leaders in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield, but said circumstances in cities differ from those in rural areas.
However, Parson said all businesses should be taking steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. The state's first death from the novel coronavirus was recorded Wednesday in Boone County.
Parson also warned Missourians to expect some delays and interruptions in state government services as the bureaucracy adjusts to new circumstances.
All public and charter schools are closed statewide and testing has ramped up, Parson said. The state has contracts with three private testing companies to increase the volume of completed tests.
Parson was flanked by several state department leaders, who gave updates on securing protective equipment for medical workers, unemployment access for laid-off workers and extended coverage for those on the state's Medicaid program.
Dr. Randall Williams, head of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said there are now 28 cases of COVID-19 in the state, up from 24 on Wednesday. He said the department will update the public twice daily on those numbers.
Check back for updates to this developing story.