Missouri’s governor has announced that the State Capitol in Jefferson City and state office buildings across the state are closed to the general public effective Tuesday morning, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Governor Mike Parson made the announcement during his daily media briefing on Monday afternoon in Jefferson City, where he was joined by Office of Administration (OA) Commissioner Sarah Steelman. She says only essential personnel will be allowed inside the Capitol and other state offices.
“And of course we have a lot of those people (essential employees) already in corrections (state prisons) and mental health institutions and veterans homes who cannot go home, or cannot work remotely,” Steelman says.
The Capitol will be closed to the public for at least two weeks.
Commissioner Steelman says there are 300 leased office buildings in Missouri, along with 36 state-owned office buildings, with a combined total of about 10,000 state employees.
She says all state departments have identified key personnel, and that about 15,000 state employees have started working remotely. Steelman also says IT personnel have established an additional call center, to take more calls from the public.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says Missouri now has 183 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including State Rep. Joe Runions, D-Grandview. He remains hospitalized in Kansas City’s St. Joseph Hospital.
The governor has also announced that he’s signed an executive order that suspends any prohibition on the sale of unprepared food by restaurants to the general public. Governor Parson says the COVID-19 outbreak has forced many Missouri restaurants to limit or stop their normal business operations.
“We hope this will not only assist restaurants financially during this time and avoid unnecessary waste, but also help meet the increased demand for food across the state,” says Parson.
The governor notes many Missourians are seeing bare grocery store shelves, and is emphasizing that this is a demand issue and not a supply one.
Parson says Missouri’s food supply remains strong, adding that the state’s farmers, ranchers and grocers are working hard to restock shelves quickly. He also says the U.S. Homeland Security Department has identified food and agriculture as essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response.
State Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten also spoke at Monday’s press conference, saying her top priority is obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals, EMS, law enforcement and fire services.
Director Karsten says her office is pursuing gown, masks, goggles, shields and gloves from all available sources, and has announced that the first shipment from the National Strategic Stockpile has been sent to 148 Missouri hospitals and EMS.
She also says 200 sets of protective goggles arrived Monday and that more equipment will be arriving and will be shipped to fire and police statewide.
You can watch the full briefing below, from Missouri Governor Parson and Cabinet members:
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