Missouri’s lieutenant governor is pleased with the state’s “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan,” and says residents are ready to return to work. Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe (R) says the state has safely re-opened.

Missouri Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe (right) applauds as Governor Mike Parson delivers his State of the State Address on January 15, 2020 in Jefferson City (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

“This is a gradual, phased-in opening, but it really does set the tone for us moving forward both economically, socially, etc.,” Kehoe says.

He notes that expanding the COVID-19 testing capacity is a top priority for Governor Mike Parson, and is one of the four essential pillars of the plan.

Kehoe says the state now has the capability of performing about 50,000 tests each week, between the state health lab in Jefferson City and at least 15 private labs and participating health care institutions.

The deadly coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on Missouri tourism, impacting attractions, hotels and restaurants across the state. It’s impacting Branson, the Lake of the Ozarks, St. Louis, Kansas City and many smaller communities.

Kehoe, who serves on the state’s Tourism Commission, says they have voted to form a special task force.

“We’ve put together 16 companies from around the state that are both private and public, so we have everything from state parks to the Aquarium in St. Louis to convention and visitors bureaus in Kansas City,” says Kehoe.

Other representatives include the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and convention and visitors bureaus at the Lake of the Ozarks and Springfield. Kehoe says Missouri’s tourism industry is ready to highlight state tourism assets, and emphasizes the importance of keeping visitors and employees safe.

Governor Parson traveled to Bass Pro Shops in Springfield on Monday morning, to discuss the re-opening. Bass Pro is one of the biggest companies in Springfield.

Parson and Kehoe also note that another pillar in the recovery plan is the expansion of reserves of personal protective equipment (PPE), by opening public and private supply chains.

As of Friday evening, Parson says the state had ordered about $40 million worth of PPE and had already shipped two million pieces of PPE to local partners, including 300,000 N95 respirator masks, 450,000 face shields and 200,000 surgical masks.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says there are now 8,916 confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri, along with 377 deaths.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, which was recorded on May 4, 2020:

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