Missouri’s social-distancing orders will remain in place for another 30 to 60 days past their original April 6 expiration, Gov. Mike Parson said Monday at his daily briefing.
Models suggest the next month will be crucial for Missouri, Parson said, noting that he is not yet ready to issue a state stay-at-home oder.
Parson spoke just a few minutes after the state Department of Health and Senior Services posted another triple-digit increase in Missouri cases, which now total 1,031 confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus that emerged late last year.
Parson's current order directing social distancing, banning gatherings of 10 or and directing restaurants and bars to not engage in dine-in service, expires April 6. The Missouri Gaming Commission on Monday directed the state’s 13 casinos to remain closed until that date.
Parson said he is studying how long he will add to the current end of the order.
"We are definitely in the process of doing that," Parson said. "We know we are going to expand that. It is just a matter of where we move that time frame to."
The past weekend was one of the first with nice spring weather that would normally draw thousands of people to state parks and other outdoor recreational activities. Too many people crowded too closely together at parks over the weekend, Parson said.
The result may be that state parks are closed, Parson said.
"We are a little disappointed there with what happened over the weekend at the state parks," he said. "We are trying to leave facilities like that open to the general public, but unfortunately, people didn't abide by the rules."
The coronavirus reached a new milestone Monday in Missouri when the statewide total of cases surged past 1,000 with the report of an additional 128 cases of infection.
In all, there are now 1,031 confirmed infections of the virus that emerged late last year and causes the disease known as COVID-19.
Locally, the count of COVID-19 cases in Boone County grew by another five on Monday as the pandemic coronavirus continued to spread.
There are now 60 total confirmed infections in the county, with 17 known cases of community transmission.
Missouri has had 13 deaths related to COVID-19, according to the official report.
There are confirmed cases in 66 of the state’s 117 local health jurisdictions reporting to the state. The worst outbreaks continued to be in the state’s largest counties, with St. Louis County reporting 366 confirmed infections and another 91 in the city of St. Louis.
Kansas City had 100 cases, with another 56 in areas of Jackson County outside Kansas City. St. Charles County had 56 known infections and 38 were reported for Greene County.
State health department Director Randall Williams outlined out how cases are progressing during the briefing. He said about 80 percent of cases of the disease known as COVID-19 do not require hospital care.
People are ill but not so sick they cannot recover at home, he said.
Of the 20 percent that require hospital care, a little more than half, 10 to 12 percent of all cases, need hospital care to recover and the rest, about 8 percent of the total, need a ventilator.
He said the state has an adequate stock of ventilators at this time. He did not give a number of people hospitalized at this time but his figures would indicate about 200 have been or now are inpatients.
The worst is yet to come, Parson warned Monday.
"I think we are all looking somewhere around the middle of April for a turning point to give really, an in-depth evaluation," Parson said. "But I want everyone to know I think we are still 60 to 90 days before getting through this virus, and that is kind of a best-case scenario."
There is help available for uninsured Missourians who contract COVID-19, Jennifer Tidball, acting director of the Department of Social Services said. The state has obtained a Medicaid waiver allowing it to offer coverage to single adults and couples without children who test positive.
The benefit is available for people with an income below $904 a month for individuals and $1,220 for couples. There are asset limits as well that must be met, she said.
Boone County has been under a stay-at-home order since Wednesday, the day after the first case of community transmission was discovered. The Columbia-Boone County Health Department page also now shows that 20 people who were infected with the virus have recovered.
The second case was discovered in Randolph County, which is also under a stay-at-home order, according to a statement issued by the Randolph County Health Department.
The Randolph County patient has self-quarantined and the department’s communicable disease nurse is working to contact anyone who may have been exposed to the virus through the patient, health department Deputy Administrator Craig Parsons said.
The second case in Adair County was confirmed, according to a release from the Adair County Health Department in Kirksville. The confirmed case is a 34-year-old female who is at home in isolation, receiving medical care from Northeast Family Health. Her case is not believed to be travel-related, the departments stated.
There are now 24 counties or cities under a stay-at-home order. The communities covered by those orders comprise about 60 percent of the state's population.
With spring break over, Columbia Public Schools began delivering grab-and-go meals to students throughout the district. Most other area districts also resumed their food programs for students.
In the counties surrounding Boone, there are cases in Callaway County, which has 13 according to the latest state Department of Health and Senior Services reports; Cole County, which has 25; Cooper County, which has one; and Moniteau County, which has two. No confirmed cases have been reported to the state from Audrain or Howard counties.
Cole County is under a stay-at-home order.
In response to questions from reporters, Parson said he is not going to shut down traffic on interstate highways but is concerned about travelers from states with large outbreaks.
He is thinking about – but is not ready – to issue a state stay-at-home order, he said.
"Everybody has a different version of what we should do on a stay-at-home order for the state of Missouri," he said. "Again, we have to evaluate the whole state and have to look at it county by county and what is happening in those counties."
The heavy economic toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the state continued Monday with the announcement that La-Z-Boy would close its factories and outlet stores. The furniture maker has about 800 employees at a factory in Neosho and also has a La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery store in Springfield.
Missouri's attorney general on Monday announced he issued subpoena-like demands for information from third-party Amazon sellers in an attempt to fight price gouging amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office is investigating eight Missouri-based Amazon sellers who allegedly have been charging two to 19 times the prices charged before the COVID-19 outbreak for hand sanitizer, masks and respirators.
Schmitt issued civil investigative demands requiring the third-party sellers to provide his office with details on pricing.
"Price gouging is something that we’re taking incredibly seriously, and we’re exploring all avenues in order to protect Missourians during these unprecedented times," Schmitt said in a statement.
Just before 5 p.m., there were 159,184 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States, up nearly 20,000 in less than 24 hours, with 2,945 deaths blamed on the contagion.
Worldwide, the number of cases surged about 750,000, to 775,306, with deaths worldwide from COVID-19 totaling 37,083.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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