JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Capitol will be shutting down to the public and only essential state workers will be allowed in the building and at other state offices.
Governor Mike Parson made the announcement Monday during a virtual news briefing.
The decision to brief reporters—and the public—through Facebook instead of in-person was made to keep in line the governor’s own prohibiting groups of more than 10 from gathering.
“And the best way to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus is by social distancing as much as possible. Starting tomorrow, March 24, we will be closing the state Capitol and state office buildings throughout the state,” he said.
Parson said the Capitol will be shutting down to the public for two weeks while some deep cleaning takes place.
“Our cabinet directors have identified essential personnel and will be reaching out to their teams today,” he said.
On Friday, we learned Missouri State Representative Joe Runions tested positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, he released a photo of him on a ventilator to demonstrate the severity of the illness. The congressman said doctors expressed their concerns about having enough testing kits and running out of gowns, masks, and other protective equipment.
Sandra Karsten, director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said the state is working to secure more safety equipment for medical officials and first responders through the state’s disaster funds, FEMA, and the Strategic National Stockpile.
In all, more than half a million PPE have been sent to hospitals and EMS agencies, according to Karsten. She said the first shipment was March 19 and the second shipment was made Monday. She expects the state to receive more during the next week to 10 days.
Parson also announced an executive order allowing restaurants to sell unprepared food. He said the idea was to help restaurants. He also said food shortages at stores are not the result of supply problems. He said the demand has been overwhelming.
The governor has continued to stress the importance of social distancing and reminds Missourians that a state order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 remains in place.