The results of mass testing in Buchanan County found more than 250 workers at a pork processing plant had coronavirus infections but no symptoms, and the number will go higher when all tests are processed.

The state tested approximately 2,300 of 2,800 employees at Triumph Foods, the Department of Health and Senior Services reported. Of that number, the results of the first 1,625 tests showed 259 asymptomatic infections.

The tests are part of the state’s response to the pandemic, which has included a statewide stay-at-home order that expires at midnight Sunday.

Gov. Mike Parson, in his daily briefing Friday, asked for Missourians to observe a day of prayer for the state on Sunday and to be responsible when they go out Monday.

“I just don't think there is going to be a rush for everybody to go out Monday morning and hit every business in the state or anything,” Parson said.

As restrictions ease, the impact of the pandemic and accompanying shutdown are becoming more apparent. The University of Missouri cut 49 jobs Friday, including 32 at MU Health Care.

And in St. Louis, a public-interest law firm sued Friday to block the removal of a homeless camp set up in a park across from city hall.

ArchCity Defenders filed the suit just hours before the city’s 10 a.m. deadline for taking down the tent encampment that had been housing about 50 people, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.


In St. Joseph, the mass testing was ordered after 46 workers at the plant with symptoms tested positive.

Of the new cases found, 54 were included in the department’s daily report on COVID-19 infections in the state, helping to propel it to the highest daily tally since April 8 except for a day when a commercial lab reported a batch of tests taken over 10 days.

There were 273 new cases reported Friday and the state has recorded 7,835 COVID-19 cases since the first infection was reported March 7.

The 54 new Buchanan County cases were the second-most in a single county Friday, behind St. Louis County, which reported an additional 102 cases. There were 33 new cases in Kansas City, 28 new cases in St. Louis and 11 new cases in St. Charles County.

Boone County reported two new cases, bringing the count by the Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Senior Services to 96, with five active infections, with the state reporting 102 total. Greene County reported one additional case, bringing its total to 86.

There were six additional cases in Saline County, bringing the total to 180 and giving it an infection rate of 834 per 100,000 residents, more than double any other jurisdiction in the state.

There were eight new deaths reported Friday, bringing the state total to 337 since the first death was reported March 18 in Boone County.

There have been coronavirus infections found in 99 of the state’s 117 local health department jurisdictions and deaths in 33 counties.

The state will receive results of 3,600 tests done in communities around the state to survey for infections, state Health Director Randall Williams said. That will help give a picture of how widespread current infections are.

Meatpacking facilities such as the Triumph Foods plant have been ordered to remain open by President Donald Trump under the Defense Production Act. Chris Chinn, the director of the state Department of Agriculture, said plants will make safety improvements for workers and send home those who are sick.

The asymptomatic workers in St. Joseph are being told to remain in isolation for 14 days, she said.

There may be disruptions in supply, she said.

"We don't expect widespread food shortages at this time, however, you may see localized shortages of some protein cuts or increased prices for some items," Chinn said.


The state will open its office buildings to the public starting Monday, with screening for state employees and visitors, Commissioner of Administration Sarah Steelman said during Parson’s briefing.

The National Guard will assist in the health screenings, she said. Employees who have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to go home.

The same goes for the public, she said.

“The Guard will be advising the public that if they have any of the symptoms they may not enter the building,” Steelman said.

In Columbia, which is also reopening Monday, city offices will remain closed to the public for the time being, but the city will reopen some facilities. The Activity and Recreation Center at 1701 W. Ash St. will reopen at its regular time Monday morning, with some activities not allowed.

The walking track, spinning room, cardio zone, strength zone, youth training room and ping pong room will be open, according to a city news release.

Businesses that reopen are expected to use the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control to disinfect their premises, the release said.

Some counties are not going to reopen with most of the state. The restrictions imposed by Parson in his state stay-at-home order will remain in place for another week in Moniteau County.

And on Friday, the Saline County Commission voted to approve what it calls a "mitigation order" to remain closed until May 10 and will re-evaluate on a weekly basis.

The important thing to remember is to be safe, Williams said.

“On Monday, if my mom wanted to be with her great-grandchild, that would be a reasonable thing to do,” Williams said. “That would be different than going to a crowded place, to get on a bus, for instance, where she would be right next to somebody.”

Parson has set a schedule that includes visits Monday to Joplin and Springfield.

The relaxation is not intended to throw everything open and return to crowded stores and restaurants, Parson said.

“I just don't think there is going to be a rush for everybody to go out Monday morning and hit every business in the state or anything.”


Missouri senators on Friday parceled out millions of dollars in expected federal coronavirus stimulus funding to help the state cope with the pandemic, including $20 million for meatpacking plants.

Republican Sen. Justin Brown, who proposed setting aside federal funding specifically for meat plants, said the money could be used to buy masks and other personal protective gear for workers or to expand operations at smaller plants.

Senators said they plan to put restrictions on how the money can be used later on in the budgeting process. The proposal still needs approval from the full House, and then the House and Senate will hash out any differences between the chambers.

Another Senate Appropriations Committee change would set aside $30 million in federal funding for stimulus grants for small businesses.

In his statements, Williams downplayed the issue at the St. Joseph plant.

Meat plants often employ hundreds of people working next to each other, which can help facilitate the virus' spread.

But Williams said it’s uncertain where the St. Joseph workers contracted the virus.

“It’s very reasonable they may have gotten it not from work but from where they live, who they live with,” Williams said.

The national and world situation was little changed except for the daily increase in cases.

The U.S. surpassed 1.1 million total confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday afternoon, an increase of 32,903 in 24 hours. The contagion is blamed for 64,600 deaths in the U.S., up 1,730.

Worldwide, the virus is known to have infected almost 3.3 million people and is blamed for almost 238,000 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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