Good morning, MBA readers,
As Gov. Mike Parson announced the extension of social distancing guidelines for the state through mid-June, parts of Missouri continued to relax coronavirus restrictions with caution. Kansas City, for instance, will allow businesses to begin operating at closer to full capacity starting this weekend. The University of Missouri-Kansas City plans to begin a phased reopening next week, and state gaming regulators are allowing casinos to welcome gamblers back starting Monday. However, as businesses begin to reopen, some parts of the state, like Boone County, are seeing increases in the reported number of COVID-19 cases.
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Missouri extends social distancing guidelines until June 15
The current health order has been in place since May 4 and was set to expire June 1, but it has been extended an additional two weeks. Gov. Mike Parson said the order is part of phase one in the state’s reopening plan, and that Missouri is not ready to advance to phase two. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Kansas City relaxes some coronavirus restrictions for businesses
Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a new order, set to take effect Sunday, that limits businesses to operating at 50% of building capacity and requires them to enforce social distancing. The new order will allow more people into businesses than the city’s current rule, but Lucas said the city would enforce it more strictly. (Kansas City Star)
Missouri casinos receive permission to reopen Monday
The Missouri Gaming Commission gave casinos the go-ahead to open, as long as the businesses comply with local regulations and certain health measures. Casinos have been closed since mid-March, costing the state an estimated $1 million in revenue each day. (Missourinet)
UMKC to begin reopening Monday
The university has announced it will start the first phase of its three-part reopening plan. In phase one, a small group of employees involved in critical operations will return to campus until July 5, when phase two is slated to begin by bringing back senior administration and department heads. (Associated Press)
Springfield tourism takes hit, but officials hope for rebound
Hotel bookings in Springfield were down 46% in March and 75% in April, but the city’s top tourism official hopes recent reopenings will help the industry begin to recover. The city’s largest tourist attraction reopened May 23, and The Ozark Empire Fair is scheduled to take place at the end of July. (Springfield News-Leader)
St. Louis Science Center to reopen June 20
The center announced it would open with new safety guidelines, including limited occupancy and mandatory masks. (KSDK)
Costco to open location in east Springfield
The wholesale store is expected to open in the fall of 2021 and bring at least 125 jobs to the community, but up to 200 if sales grow. (Springfield Business Journal)
Westminster College president to retire
Fletcher Lamkin has announced that he will retire at the end of June from the Fulton college. His position will be filled on an interim basis by Donald Lofe Jr., the chair of the school’s board of trustees. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Say that again
“This attempt to take away the right of all Missourians to vote will not work. It’s simply a last-ditch effort by people who know they cannot win in the court of public opinion.”
That’s Jack Cardetti, a spokesman advocating for the campaign to keep Medicaid expansion on Missouri’s ballot. Two conservative groups — Americans for Prosperity-Missouri and United for Missouri — have filed lawsuits to remove the measure from the state’s August ballot, The Kansas City Star reports. The lawsuits argue that the proposition is unconstitutional, citing a clause in the Missouri Constitution that requires an identified revenue source to fund the initiative. If the measure passes, 90% of the funding will be provided by the federal government, leaving the remaining 10% — which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars — to be funded by Missouri. Backers of Medicaid expansion in Missouri have cited the example of other states in their arguments, showing how expanded access saved those states millions of dollars.
That is the number of initial unemployment claims filed in Missouri last week. It’s the lowest number of statewide claims since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, although it’s far above typical weekly totals. There were about 253,000 Missourians receiving unemployment benefits for the week ended May 16, down from about 262,000 the week before. As businesses begin to reopen and workers return, unemployment benefits numbers across the U.S. are expected to decline in the weeks to come, the Wall Street Journal reports.
I will introduce legislation to end these special government giveaways. If @Twitter wants to editorialize & comment on users’ posts, it should be divested of its special status under federal law (Section 230) & forced to play by same rules as all other publishers. Fair is fair
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 27, 2020
That’s Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, in response to the recent feud between President Donald Trump and Twitter. After the social media platform flagged two of the president’s tweets, which contained unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud, he moved to limit legal protections for social media companies, Reuters reports. Trump wants to eliminate or weaken part of a law that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users. Hawley, a frequent critic of Big Tech, chimed in on the matter in a tweet to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Hawley then issued the above statement, echoing a sentiment conveyed by Trump and other Republican leaders.
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Columbia and Boone County will use this secure data collection software for contact tracing of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, the Columbia Missourian reports. REDCap launched in 2004 at Vanderbilt University for use in tracking medical data. It will utilize a daily email, text or call to check on residents with COVID-19, while also notifying those who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. Seven new cases were reported in the county on Wednesday, the highest number of new cases reported in one day for a two-month period. That brought the total number of new cases in the county for the past week up to 25, the same number reported in the entire month of April. These cases include an employee of The Bluffs, a Columbia nursing home, and an employee of a Schnucks grocery store in the city.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.