KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ended the statewide state of emergency on Friday after more than 18 months, replacing it with a more narrowly focused declaration.
Parson declared the initial state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13, 2020, allowing Missouri to suspend certain regulations and draw down federal assistance, among other procedural functions of Executive Order 20-02.
He extended it four previous times, but decided to end it and instead institute Executive Order 21-09, which declares that “a state of emergency exists relative to staff shortages in the state’s health care system and the state’s recovery efforts from the COVID-19 public health threat.”
"In the nearly 18 months we operated under this executive order, we have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by providing unprecedented levels of resources and support," Parson said in a statement. "This order enabled us to respond to the unknown and everchanging [sic] needs of our state. Now, we know how to fight this virus and have a solution to ending the pandemic with the vaccine. Today, we are terminating this order as our situation no longer demands an expansive emergency declaration.”
Parson cited a 50% vaccination rate in Missouri as part of the rationale for ending the expansive state of emergency, noting that widely available COVID-19 vaccines have minimized the “risk of serious infection, death and hospitalization” for those who have been vaccinated.
He also cited full FDA approval of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the new executive order.
Under the new declaration, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is allowed to “temporarily waive or suspend the operation of any statutory requirement or administrative rule” that would impede Missouri’s ability to address critical staffing shortages in its hospitals, subject to Parson’s approval.
Certain provisions related to telemedicine and allowable prescriptions via telemedicine also remain suspended, while “any executive agency, board, commission or department not specifically mentioned herein” may request the waiver or suspension of regulations “in order to best serve public health and safety during the period of the emergency and recovery” via written request to Parson’s office.
The new executive order also keeps the Missouri National Guard activated for "continued mission support in recovery operations, if needed," a news release stated.
The new scaled-back state of emergency remains in effect through Dec. 31, 2021.