JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Missouri Governor Mike Parson has requested President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the state of Missouri. Gov. Parson calls the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic more than what the state and local governments can handle alone.
We reported Tuesday the state’s director of public safety declared COVID-19 will have a more sweeping impact on the state than any other previous disaster. The governor echoed that comment during Wednesday afternoon’s briefing.
Parson is seeking federal unemployment assistance and crisis counseling through FEMA. The governor is also requesting FEMA’S public assistance program to assist local governments and qualifying non-profits agencies with emergency response expenses.
He also requested FEMA assistance with debris removal expenses if needed for the removal and disposal of bio-hazard and other contaminated materials as a result of the pandemic response.
Parson also praised the work of those involved in the food chain. He said empty store shelves have not been the result of a supply problem. He said excessive demand has led to some shortages.
“I want every worker and employer involved in the food industry to know that your work has never been more important,” said Parson. “Employee safety and public safety are our first priority. If you are sick, stay at home. However, if you are able to work, we need you at your farm, we need you in your truck, we need you in the grocery store and everywhere else to keep doing your job and to keep our farm products on American shelves.”
Parson was asked if he would designate food workers as emergency first responders. The request was made by the union representing many of the state’s grocery workers. The governor said the designation should be reserved for first responders who answer the call for emergencies. The designation grants priority for testing and receiving personal protective equipment.
The governor is still waiting for lawmakers to return to the Capitol to approve a supplemental budget authorizing federal and state dollars to be used to fight COVID-19. It’s not yet clear when lawmakers will return. He said there are daily talks taking place to work out a plan. The Missouri Capitol is currently closed to the public after State Rep. Joe Runions tested positive for COVID-19. He is recovering and was last in the Capitol on March 12.