Missouri now has 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus; first death is in Columbia area

Regional News

(Missourinet)– Missouri’s governor announced Wednesday evening in Jefferson City that there are now 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, and says the first recorded death has happened in the Columbia area.

Governor Mike Parson held two Statehouse press conferences on Wednesday. He held the first one in the afternoon, where he was joined by Columbia Mayor Brian Treece about the death. Mayor Treece says the death involves the patient who tested positive Tuesday for coronavirus, and that it’s a travel-related case.

The governor is urging you to wash your hands and to follow the advice of health professionals.

“If the people of Missouri want to protect themselves and protect their families and their loved ones, it will be through social distancing and using common sense, and taking on personal responsibilities,” Parson says.

Parson spoke at a Wednesday evening press conference outside his Capitol office, where he was joined by state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams, State Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten, State Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Rob Dixon and other officials.

Governor Parson has signed an executive order, authorizing state agencies to waive regulations that interfere with Missouri’s coronavirus response. Parson says the order also expands telemedicine.

Director Karsten has announced that DPS and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) are working to get hundreds of thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment to local law enforcement officers and other first responders.

She emphasizes the importance of equipment like masks and gowns.

“We expect the first orders of that to arrive March 24, and we’re already making plans to distribute those pieces to our partners,” says Karsten.

Karsten tells reporters her office is responding to requests from hospitals and first responders, adding the equipment will come from the National Strategic Stockpile.

Governor Parson and Mayor Treece note that the Columbia-area first responders who made contact with the coronavirus patient who died were wearing proper equipment.

The governor also discussed the economy on Wednesday evening. He is warning that thousands of Missourians will lose their jobs because of coronavirus, and says his top priorities continue to be public health and public safety.

Missourinet asked Governor Parson if he’ll need to tap into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

“I am not worried about the funding source of it right now, to be honest about it,” Parson says. “I believe we will have the money, we’ll put the money wherever it needs to be. It’s going to be tremendously expensive to get through this next year or two, however long it might be.”

The governor also emphasizes he put $100 million into the state budget for emergencies, saying that will help.

Thousands of Missouri autoworkers at the General Motors and Ford plants in Wentzville and Claycomo will be heading home soon, as the plants close temporarily over coronavirus concerns.

Director Dixon tells Missourinet the Big Three automakers and the UAW reached an agreement, to do that.

Governor Parson’s next scheduled press conference about the coronavirus is set for Thursday afternoon at 3 at the Capitol.

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