JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Governor Mike Parson says social distancing and staying home if possible will save lives. He has not however issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Whether there is an order or not, Parson said personal responsibility is what will stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have to take that on as individuals,” Parson said. “We have to take that on as Missourians. It’s what we have to do.”
The governor has been criticized by some medical, business, and political groups for not issuing a statewide stay-at-home order. Parson has left that decision up to local communities.
Parson has already issued an order that requires social distancing and prohibits groups of more than 10 from gathering. He said issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in a state as diverse as Missouri would require some exemptions.
“We’re going to figure out a solution and, hopefully, we’ll announce more on that tomorrow,” he said.
Parson has previously said he will be extending the existing social distancing order that had been set to expire on April 6.
The governor also said the state is working to address the staggering number of unemployment claims caused by COVID-19. The state received more than 100,000 claims last week. Parson said that’s one reason why phone lines have been jammed. He said 90 percent of applicants have been able to file online.
The Missouri National Guard also provided an update on its efforts to plan for potential hospital overflows.
Brigadier General Levon Crumpton said the Missouri Guard is looking to first convert hotels to medical care facilities and will then look to larger venues if necessary.
Parson also announced he is temporarily waving late fees for renewing conceal carry permits. He said the order will help maintain social distancing and help free up administrative staff in local law enforcement communities.
Parson and Crumpton also cautioned the public to be wary of false information on social media regarding the role of the National Guard. Some messages being shared on social media falsely claim the National Guard is mobilizing to implement a national quarantine.
Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) released a statement Thursday afternoon, questioning the governor’s priorities based on his latest executive order.
“If the governor had issued his executive order on conceal-carry permits a day earlier, I would have thought it was a bad April Fools’ Day joke,” Quade said. “The fact that the governor thinks this is a priority is beyond disappointing and gives further ammunition to critics who say he isn’t doing what needs to be done to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Missouri.”