By Clay Coleman
MEXICO—During a news conference last Monday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced his ‘Show Me Strong’ recovery plan, easing restrictions placed on businesses and residents devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am announcing phase one of our ‘Show Me Strong’ plan, which will begin May 4 and extend through Sunday, May 31,” Parson said.
During phase one, residents can return to economic and social activities provided they adhere to six feet of separation between individuals or families. No restrictions will be placed on social gatherings as long as social distancing is maintained.
Businesses can be open provided they follow social distancing guidelines and adhere to additional restrictions put in place by Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, such as occupancy limits at retail locations.
“Our hospitals are not overwhelmed, and things are improving, which is why we have (decided) to move forward and begin reopening Missouri on May 4,” Parson added.
Citing data compiled by the state, Parson said peak hospitalization in Missouri was on April 7 at 1,242 cases. By April 25, the number of admissions had decreased in every region, except for the St. Louis region, where cases continue to increase.
• The Kansas City region went from 411 hospitalizations to 243 (41 percent reduction)
• The Central Region went from 40 admissions to 25 (38 percent reduction)
• The Northeast Region went from 6 hospitalizations to 2 (67 percent reduction)
• The St. Louis region went from 639 to 692 (8 percent increase).
According to data from the Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri has more than 1,100 ventilators available across the state, not including ventilators stored in the state’s strategic stockpile.
“These are just some examples of the data we track and monitor every day to make our decisions,” Parson said. “The overall trends in the data show that Missouri’s health care system is under control.”
Following Parson’s press conference, Missouri’s DHSS put out specific guidance on how Missourians will reintegrate back into society:
• Individuals may go to and from places of worship, access food, health care, or engage in any activities provided social distancing is properly being followed.
• People shall not visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance or in end-of-life circumstances. Elderly or otherwise vulnerable populations should take enhanced precautionary measures to mitigate the risks of contracting COVID-19.
• Businesses engaged in retail sales and less than 10,000 square feet shall limit the number of individuals inside to 25 percent or less of the building’s fire or building code. Businesses with more than 10,000 square feet, the number drops to 10 percent or less.
• Schools shall remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year. Summer school may proceed under guidelines set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Daycares, child care providers, or schools providing child care can operate per CDC guidelines.
• Restaurants may offer dining-in services, provided social distancing, and other precautionary public health measures occur. That includes having no more than 10 people at a single table, and the lack of communal seating areas to parties that are not connected.
“All of Missouri’s businesses, employers, and employees are vital to our state’s economy and well-being,” Parson said. “Opening these businesses is going to look very different for a while, but I’m confident Missourians will abide by the guidelines as we move forward.”