The top Democrat on the Missouri House Special Committee on Small Business is calling on the Parson administration to utilize more minority-owned businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Rep. Alan Green, D-Florissant, represents north St. Louis County, which has been hit hard by the outbreak.

State Rep. Alan Green, D-Florissant, speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on February 19, 2020 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

“I’ve received phone calls from those that again have provided, they can provide masks and also even testing, some of them have their companies up and running, been established for many, many, many years,” Green says.

Green, a former Legislative Black Caucus Chairman, is asking Governor Mike Parson (R) to use the spending authority and discretion granted to him under the $6 billion supplemental budget to utilize more minority, female and disadvantaged business enterprise companies to make PPE. That includes masks, gloves and gowns.

The Legislature voted last week to approve the largest supplemental budget in state history, a $6.2 billion emergency relief package aimed at battling the pandemic, which has cost thousands of jobs around the state.

Representative Green also says the COVID-19 outbreak is disproportionately impacting African-American communities, especially in pockets of north St. Louis County. He says black residents are feeling a disproportionate impact of the disease, especially in north county.

“I look at other areas, of course when we look at all of St. Louis County and also St. Louis City, I’m not trying to just say zero in, but I am saying we are the hardest hit,” says Green.

In nearby St. Louis City, news reports this week say that 19 of the 24 people who have died were African-Americans.

State health officials say there are now 5,111 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Missouri, along with 152 deaths. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced the latest numbers Thursday afternoon.

Governor Parson recently announced that the state is proceeding with its first alternate care site to assist hospitals in the St. Louis region, treating an increased number of COVID-19 patients.

The governor says a hotel in Florissant is currently being converted into the care facility. That’s near Green’s district.

If necessary, the Florissant site could accommodate more than 100 people and be used to house those who test positive for COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms, as well as those exposed to it and referred by health care professionals as requiring treatment but not hospitalization.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Rep. Alan Green, D-Florissant, which was recorded on April 14, 2020:

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