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Missouri governor provides updates on COVID-19 response

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (WGEM) — Governor Mike Parson gave updates Tuesday on efforts by the Missouri National Guard, Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC), and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to assist with the state’s COVID-19 response.

Since Gov. Parson signed Executive Order 20-06 last week the Missouri National Guard has been helping to try and identify potential alternate care sites, if needed, around Missouri.

While nothing has been confirmed, several possible sites have been assessed, including:

  • Hy-Vee Arena (formerly Kemper Arena) and Silverstein Eye Centers Arena (formerly Independence Event Center) in Kansas City
  • The Dome at America's Center (formerly the Edward Jones Dome) in St. Louis
  • Hammons Student Center and JQH Arena in Springfield,
  • Missouri Southern State University Legget and Platt Arena in Joplin
  • The Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau
  • Hearnes Arena in Columbia

There are three main selection criteria that are being considered for these sites: 

  • Located in areas with deficient bed counts, 
  • Areas with spaces large enough for patient populations, and
  • Areas where utilities are available to start immediate construction if necessary

Also announced, DED has been reaching out to business leaders across the state to see how they can assist during this challenging time.

Several Missouri companies have responded to the call to help procure or produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers:

  • Barry Orscheln, CEO of Orscheln Farm and Home supply stores headquartered in Moberly, has activated his supplier networks and relationships and is now working with Carhartt to produce gowns and surgical masks.
  • K&K Supply, a construction equipment supplier based in Fenton, who is working with SEMA for the procurement of N95 masks.
  • Grainger Industrial Supply in Kansas City, who is working with SEMA for the procurement of medical shoe covers.
  • National Material Supply Co., an industrial and commercial supply distributor based in St. Louis.
  • Trabon Group, a Kansas City printing company, is now producing face shields for hospitals in the Kansas City area.

There are also several breweries and distilleries that have shifted production or provided materials to produce hand sanitizer for health care workers, nursing homes, first responders and non profits:

  • J. Rieger & Co., a distillery in Kansas City in partnership with Blade and Timber Ax Throwing
  • Restless Spirits, a distillery in North Kansas City
  • 4 Hands Brewing company in St. Louis
  • Switchgrass distillery in Wellston in partnership with Bee Naturals
  • Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis

Also announced, Missouri State Parks will modify their operations at five state parks to address overcrowding and concerns regarding COVID-19. The modifications to the state parks, including temporary closing to four of Missouri’s state parks and the partial closure of another park, will take effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2 and are scheduled to continue until April 30.

The operation modifications include the following:

  • Castlewood State Park will close
  • Elephant Rocks State Park will close
  • Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and Park will close
  • Weston Bend State Park will close
  • St. Joe State Park will close the off-road vehicle riding area
  • Gates to individual parking lots may close at all state parks when the lot reaches capacity

Further more, DOC is working hard to try and keep COVID-19 out of prisons and they are prepared to contain if it should come in to the prison.

The DOC has always had plans and procedures in place and has enhanced them for COVID-19. 

  • Suspended offender visits March 12
  • Suspended offender transfers among facilities
  • Screening all offenders on intake
  • Screening all staff and others entering a facility
  • Strict sanitation schedule and guidelines at every prison
  • Ample cleaning supplies at every prison
  • Around-the-clock on-site medical care at every prison
  • Isolation cells, wings and units identified for use, if needed, at every prison

Missouri Vocational Enterprises has also modified its operations to help communities during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Producing hand sanitizer at the chemical plant in Bonne Terree – started Friday and will have 6,800 gallons ready for distribution by the end of the week
  • Ramped up toilet paper production at the factory in Cameron with 600-800 additional cases each week –  now producing 3,500 cases (336,000 rolls) every week
  • Clothing factory at Jefferson City Correctional Center is making 4,000 protective gowns requested by the Missouri Veterans Commission 

Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 inside any Missouri Department of Corrections facility. There have been eighteen offenders that have been tested. Four of these tests are pending, and 13 of them have been negative.

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