Gov. Mike Parson and a few cabinet members gathered today to give a daily update about the state’s response to the coronavirus. Parson announced that since March, 9,102 people have tested positive in Missouri for COVID-19. At least 396 people have died from complications of the respiratory disease. Here are other key points from today’s press conference:

Gov. Parson (Photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

Missourians who receive food stamps could start using their benefits online late next week to buy groceries. Jennifer Tidball, acting director of the Missouri Department of Social Services, says the state is wrapping up its work on the effort.

“We continue testing with Wal-Mart and Amazon, which will be the vendors who have online food purchasing eligible,” says Tidball. “And if everything goes well over the next few days, we’re anticipating that will be available to SNAP households mid-May or even later next week.”

Missouri’s food stamp participation is nearly 650,000 people, nearly 300,000 households, and totals nearly one billion dollars a year in federal funding.

The Missouri Department of Social Services says it will expand child care help to low-income families and support child care providers with federal coronavirus relief funding. Tidball says the state is temporarily changing some eligibility guidelines for subsidy programs.

Jennifer Tidball (Photo courtesy of Governor’s Flickr page)

“Under the child care plan, low-income families searching for work will be eligible for a 90-day child care benefit,” she says. “Low-income families will be able to access this temporary benefit through December of 2020.”

Through August, low-income parents who work, go to school, or train for work could qualify for other aid – the Transitional Child Care Subsidy – which is a subsidy benefit of at least 60%.

As for child care providers, those who have remained open to provide services to essential personnel can receive a one-time payment ranging from $1,000 to $7,500, depending on capacity.

All licensed or licensed-exempt child care providers who operate non-traditional hours, 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, can receive a $100 monthly stipend for each child care slot for the months of April, May, and June.

Col. Levon Cumpton (Photo courtesy of Governor’s Office)

Missouri Child Care Subsidy providers will receive payments based on authorized care instead of actual attendance for April, May, and June service months.

Missouri has also reserved $10 million for one-time grants to colleges and universities to establish on-campus child care programs that include slots for Child Care Subsidy families.

The Department of Social Services says it will divide $1.5 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund among Missouri’s six regional food banks. Tidball says the funding will help food banks serve pantries, domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other meal sites.

“Food banks and food pantries continue to see an increase in the number of Missourians seeking assistance,” says Tidball. “Shelf-stable food items are in high-demand. This funding will assist more than 1,000 feeding sites with meeting basic food needs.”

Scott Baker, the State Director of nonprofit Feeding Missouri, says the need for emergency food is surging at the same time donations are declining. He says more food must be purchased, and the increasing demand is forcing prices to skyrocket.

The Missouri State Fair Board of Directors meets tomorrow to talk about this year’s annual event. Gov. Parson says he’s reviewing coronavirus data this month before giving his recommendations on how to handle the State Fair this year.

“Right now, we will plan like a Plan A and a Plan B to have the fair or maybe a shortened version of it,” says Parson. “But again, I don’t think there’s anything concrete until we get a little closer to the first of June to see where we’re headed in the state.”

The State Fair is currently scheduled for August 13-23 in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia.

There’s been a scuffle between Kansas City and Jackson County leaders in western Missouri about federal coronavirus relief funding. Jackson County does not want to share funding with the state’s largest city – igniting a shouting match earlier this week between a couple officials during a public meeting.

“I know they’re trying to work on a solution up there,” says Parson. “The county is going to have to share with the cities. That’s what the money is for. But Kansas City is totally different than most areas because you’ve got Kansas City touching four counties and that gets a little more complicated than St. Louis, versus St. Louis City, versus St. Louis County. Look, that money is going to be shared throughout that community up there. One way or another it will.”

Missouri has more than 1,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen helping with the state’s response to the coronavirus. Adjutant General Levon Cumpton says the work is helping to boost the guard’s military readiness.

“Because what we do day in and day out is provide an organized, disciplined response,” he says. “Anything that we do, whether it be for our federal war fight or support to civil authorities, it enhances our ability to respond.”

Guard members have been helping with food delivery at food banks, pantries and to students among 10 school districts. They have also been helping to get N95 masks decontaminated, do medical screenings of citizens and employees at state office buildings, and running an alternate medical care site near St. Louis.

View today’s briefing below:

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