Gov. Parson considering 'additional restriction measures' for schools in Missouri

Gov. Mike Parson
Posted at 7:21 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 20:21:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said 432 school districts or private schools in the state have closed or soon will close amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

He has yet to close schools for the remainder of the year as Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly did Tuesday night, but there will be more guidance coming before the end of the week.

“Additional restriction measures will be forthcoming,” Parson said.

He stopped short of ordering a closure because daycare is in short supply in many rural areas.

He said his administration is working with Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Columbia to increase testing in the state.

Parson said he believes those partnerships will be up to capacity for an additional 1,000 tests per day by the end of the week.

The state lab currently is able to test 1,600 samples for COVID-19 per day.

Drive-through testing is available at a site in St. Louis and soon will be available in Columbia.

The plan is to partner with the private sector and perhaps use the Missouri National Guard to help establish the ability for mobile testing.

“We’re going to use our (Missouri National) Guard whatever way we can utilize them,” Parson said.

That may include setting up quarantine sites, if that becomes necessary.

Missouri will provide additional personal protective equipment, primarily for emergency rooms and first responders, which will be made available in the coming days.

Parson said he is asking businesses that attract older clientele to consider restrictions and closure.

He stopped short of shutting down businesses, including bars and restaurants, putting the onus on the individual owners to take measures to ensure the safety of staff and patrons.

“I do believe that we are going to be in this status for some time,” he said. “I do not believe the coronavirus is going to be over in a week or two.”

He said Missouri is preparing for a months-long effort to fight the COVID-19 spread.

Parson stressed that state agencies will remain open for business, but said “this is going to come down to personal responsibility.”

He said it will take a community effort to prevent COVID-19’s spread and to practice social distancing.

“Those are the things that will save lives and those are the things that will protect us,” Parson said.

Among the changes enacted by Missouri HealthNet are an elimination of all copays for COVID-19 tests.

Additionally, telemedicine and other regulations have been eased, while medication refill restrictions also have been eased, according to Director Todd Richardson.

Parson confirmed that there have been 15 positive COVID-19 tests in the state so far. Another 253 people have tested negative.