Missouri’s health director and the education commissioner will both testify Tuesday in Jefferson City before a bipartisan Missouri House Committee that’s related to the coronavirus.
The Missouri House Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention will meet Tuesday morning at 10:30 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City. The committee is chaired by State Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, a private practice general surgeon. The committee’s ranking Democrat is State Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia. Kendrick is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
The committee will be examining the decision by school districts in reopening buildings to students, and will get an update on Missouri’s use of federal CARES Act funding.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says Missouri now has 57,379 confirmed cases, up from 55,321 on Wednesday.
Chairman Patterson tells Missourinet that DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams will testify on Tuesday morning, about the trajectory Missouri is on. Dr. Patterson is also interested what will happen if/when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Patterson wants to know if DHSS has a plan in place.
Another key part of Tuesday’s hearing will involve Missouri Commissioner of Education Dr. Margie Vandeven, who will testify about schools.
Chairman Patterson notes that he has a nine-year-old and a six-year-old in public school. He says the number one issue he’s hearing about from constituents is about school plans.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson says his office has worked closely with the State Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and DHSS to address questions about reopening.
Earlier this week, DESE and DHSS released updated schoool reopening guidance, which addresses frequently asked questions. DESE and DHSS recommend that local school leaders require school staff members to wear face coverings, “as the data indicates COVID-19 transmission is more likely from adult to student, than from student to adult.”
Contact tracing is also addressed in the report from DESE and DHSS.
Governor Parson says the state is working to help school districts with personal protective equipment (PPE), noting that 1.8 million cloth masks have been made available through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
The governor says DESE and SEMA are currently working to develop a plan to distribute the masks to Missouri school districts.
Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, announced the committee’s creation earlier this year. Chairman Patterson notes this will be the committee’s second hearing: they met on March 2 and heard testimony from Dr. Williams.
At that time, Dr. Williams testified there had been no confirmed cases in Missouri. About 100 people had been self-monitoring, according to testimony.
Governor Parson says Missouri is one of the states the White House is concerned about, with increasing COVID-19 cases. The governor told Capitol reporters this week that Vice President Mike Pence called him on Sunday, to offer additional assistance and resources to battle the pandemic.
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