ANCHOR KEVIN HOLMES: What is the goal of this Show-Me Strong Recovery Task Force?
MISSOURI GOV. MIKE PARSON: I thought it was a really good time to reach out to the minority communities across the state to really see how they were affected in the small business arena, and how we can really help with that.
And I know we have a lot of money that goes into loans and different things for small businesses, but I really like to dive in on a deeper federal level. So, what can we really do to that mom-and-pop shop, that barber shop, repair shop, shoe store, whatever it might be? We really get down to that level, and hopefully by putting this together, made up of business people, different areas, give us a little bit more insight on how to best utilize some of these resources.
KH: Why now, and not, let’s say, six months ago, a year ago? Why now?
MP: Well, I think it’s just another tool. You know when it all first happened, and everyone was focused on the COVID itself, on the illness. About a month into the pandemic, I met with the economic development director and said, 'Look, you should start preparing to open the state back up and how can we work to keep these bills paid and doors open?'
Because I know as a small business owner myself, I used to be, you know, if somebody told me to shut the doors for 60 days, how do you pay the bill? What do you really do and how do you reopen, and how can you do that?
This is a little bit of a deep dive now that we really know what the effect was, especially like in the hospitality area, lodging. Again, those small businesses that were really concerned they might not get an opportunity to open, if we don’t do something. So, it’s a little bit of a deeper dive into what was.
Over the past few days, the Governor’s Office has released plans to have every Missouri adult eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 9.
MP: We’re No. 1 in the United States right now with the lowest positivity rates in the country from COVID-19. We’re in the Top 10 for second doses.
KH: We’re lowest in terms of percentage, which is a great thing. Is that due to a decrease in testing, or is that kind of a moot point because we have the vaccination going on?
MP: I don’t think it’s a moot point. I think we really have to encourage people to still get tested. I think the long game in this is to encourage the vaccine, and encourage the testing. It’s pretty easy when the numbers start going down, and everybody says, 'OK, hey, I don’t need to be tested anymore.' And we see there’s about half of what we were testing.
We were testing over 100,000 [and that] has dropped down to about 50 [to] 60,000. Now you know people are getting a bit more relaxed, and I think that’s our biggest worry. Nobody knows how the state’s going to go a month from now, 60 days from now.
Nobody knew what it was gonna be like a year ago. It’s just such an unknown, so I really want to encourage people to take caution. Remember that we’re not out of the woods on this thing yet. We’ve got a long way to go. And you got to stay focused on doing everything we can to keep each other safe.