Parson plans to start reopening state May 4, aims for ‘broader economic recovery’

Gov. Mike Parson on Monday outlined the initial phase of his plan to restart social and economic activity in Missouri upon the expiration of the stay-at-home order he issued in response to the coronavirus. The process aims to spur a “broader economic recovery” in the state, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Parson’s roadmap calls for expanded COVID-19 testing; an increase in reserves of personal protective equipment; continued monitoring and adjustments of the state’s health care capacity; and improved prediction of potential outbreaks.

The first stage of his “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan will begin May 4 and continue through May 31.

Under the plan, Missourians can start “returning to economic and social activities,” according to the release, while still maintaining social distancing rules like “maintaining six feet of space between individuals in most cases.” Some businesses will be required to take additional precautions, like instituting occupancy limits.

Parson’s move to reopen the state comes amid disagreement nationally and within Missouri over the timing and process for loosening restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus.

Local officials will be allowed to add further rules and regulations under Parson’s plan. Before the governor’s announcement Monday, cities and counties across the state — including Kansas City, St. Louis and St. Louis County — had extended their stay-at-home orders beyond the May 3 expiration of the state order.

Missouri has been under that stay-at-home order since April 6. As of Monday afternoon, there were more than 7,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 288 deaths.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has a widely cited model for projecting COVID-19 cases, suggests that Missouri’s peak resource use in response to the pandemic came on April 22. The model projects that “relaxing social distancing may be possible” in the state after June 17.

On Monday, Parson called on Missourians to remember that “the virus is still here” and protect themselves and others as the state reopens.

“All of Missouri’s businesses, employers, and employees are vital to our state’s economy and well-being,” Parson said in the release. “Opening these businesses is going to look very different for awhile, but I’m confident Missourians will abide by the guidelines as we move forward.”

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