Gov. Mike Parson says almost every Missouri business will be able to reopen their doors May 4. During a virtual coronavirus briefing today, the governor says he’s developing policies and guidelines for communities to follow.
“Social distancing is going to be important,” says Parson. “That’s going to be a key role to how we move forward and I think it’s sort of important that we maintain that social distancing for some time. There will be guidelines we will give to cities, the counties across the state for state policy and it will be where people can get out again.”
St. Louis City, St. Louis County have indefinitely extended their stay-at-home orders. Kansas City’s runs until May 15.
Missouri reports today at least 208 coronavirus related deaths and more than 6,100 people have tested positive for the disease. More than half of the cases are from St. Louis City and St. Louis County.
Beginning next week, the state will use a machine to decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 masks per day. Parson says the device will help with the state’s mask shortage and prevent the spread the coronavirus.
“Hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders will have the opportunity to utilize the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System to safely decontaminate N95 masks,” says Parson.
Missouri Medicaid Director Todd Richardson says a federal grant paid for the entire cost of the cleaning system. The state is expected to have the device for at least the next six months.
“This system uses hydrogen peroxide vapor to sanitize N95 masks up to 20 times per mask,” says Richardson. “The Battelle Decontamination System will bolster our supply of necessary PPE.”
There will be up to 13 drop-off and pick-up sites statewide for health care providers and first responders to drop off their N95 masks. Each organization will be responsible for correctly and safely packaging their contaminated masks and labeling them according to the directions provided by Battelle. The masks are then returned to the original drop-off/pick-up site approximately 72 hours following drop-off.
Any health care or first responder organization interested in using the Battelle CCDS to decontaminate N95 masks should enroll at www.battelle.org/N95.
Missouri is moving to a new phase that will boost coronavirus testing in congregated places with an outbreak, such as assisted living centers and nursing homes. State Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams says the focus needs to be on these places due to the number of deaths occurring from within.
“And so if you’re going to do that, you start moving into what we call comprehensive testing – very similar to what we did this weekend in which you go in and you test a lot of people and you test them quick,” says Williams.
A Festus nursing home near St. Louis has had at least 64 cases and several other nursing homes and assisted living centers have reported coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, says he would rather let states struggling from the coronavirus declare bankruptcy instead of increasing federal aid that would require further deficit spending. Parson says he does not think states should be able to file for bankruptcy.
“I think the states should be responsible for how you spend your money and because you did a poor job of managing it, whatever those states may be, I don’t think the federal government should come and bail you out,” says Parson.
Current law does not allows states to declare bankruptcy.
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