GOP governor: 'I don't believe I am costing lives' by refusing to act on coronavirus

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Gov. Mike Parson ignored the advice of the Missouri State Medical Association, which called for stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the virus.

Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO) has so far rejected the advice of medical professionals as the coronavirus pandemic grew in his state, and now he is claiming no responsibility for the harm his decisions may be causing.

On Monday, the Missouri State Medical Association called on Parson to issue a stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

"If things progress as is, COVID-19 patients will deplete the state's available hospital beds, ventilators, and precious personal protection equipment," the group's letter to Parson stated. "Any additional time without a 'shelter-in-place' requirement wastes crucial health care resources, including manpower."

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On Wednesday, Kansas City public radio station KCUR reported that Parson rejected that advice, saying such an order would hurt the economies of rural communities in the state.

"The effects that'll have on everyday people are dramatic," Parson said. "That means businesses will close, people will lose their jobs, the economy will be in worse shape than ever."

A day earlier, Parson was asked about his responsibility regarding the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Missouri, including the deaths of at least eight state residents.

"I don't believe I am costing lives at all," Parson said about rejecting the idea of a statewide stay-at-home order. "I believe we as Missourians understand what this crisis is."

St. Louis County issued a stay-at-home order on March 21 to slow the spread of the virus, but Parson refused to follow suit statewide.

Parson also initially refused to order schools in Missouri to close. Parson left the decision to stay open or close up to each of the state's 555 school districts. It was only after every single district stopped in-class instruction that Parson issued an executive order that they remain closed until at least April 6.

An editorial in the Missourian criticized Parson's "hesitant, hand-wringing approach" to dealing with schools, saying his actions "came in sharp contrast to the take-charge decisiveness of governors in other states such as Ohio, California and New York."

Parson's slow response to the pandemic was flagged by American Bridge.

Parson's past health care decisions may also leave his state ill-equipped to deal with the extent of the coronavirus pandemic.

Missouri is one of 14 states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Parson has been vocally opposed to expanding Medicaid, even though the federal government would cover most of the cost of insuring tens of thousands of more residents.

In January, Parson said Medicaid expansion was "a massive tax increase that Missourians cannot afford."

As of Thursday, Missouri had at least 377 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the New York Times, and at least eight people have died.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.