Missouri GOP Gov. Mike Parson pushing for citizens in his state to leave the house despite warnings from experts.
Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson has asked residents to stop shopping online and instead go in person in an effort to reopen businesses in the state. As of Monday, Parson is also allowing large gatherings and live events to move ahead, including concerts.
According to reopening guidelines in Parson's "Show Me Strong" recovery plan, concert venues in Missouri do not have to abide by any occupancy limits like those set for retail businesses. Instead, the plan expects such venues to take "necessary precautions" to ensure "six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals and/or families."
While some venues in the state may reopen, Lyda Krewson, mayor of St. Louis, said on Friday that the city's stay-at-home order remains in place, adding she "will continue to be guided by data, not dates."
But Parson encouraged Missouri residents to go out in public. At a Friday press conference, Parson asked residents to make a "special effort" to visit local businesses as a way to help the state's economy.
The push for opening concert venues and encouraging residents to venture into their communities came as the state reported three consecutive days of 200 or more confirmed coronavirus cases.
As of Sunday, the Missouri Hospital Association reported 8,386 cases in the state and 352 deaths.
Missouri is also home to a coronavirus hotspot at a Triumph Foods meat packing plant in Buchanan County. According to CNN, 373 workers at the plant tested positive for coronavirus, and all of them were asymptomatic.
The news about the plant broke less than a week after Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing workers at meat processing plants back to work despite the pandemic.
Parson's plan to reopen businesses in Missouri follows a slow and chaotic response to the coronavirus crisis in the state.
When the crisis started, Parson refused to order schools in the state to close, leaving it up to each of the 555 school districts to make their own decision. It was only after every single district made a decision to close that Parson ordered a statewide school closure order.
In mid-March, Parson refused to issue a statewide stay-at-home order despite a request by the Missouri State Medical Association asking him to do so. Parson defended his decision by stating such an order would hurt local economies, and adding, "I don't believe I am costing lives at all."
At the time he made that statement, only eight Missourians had died.
Parson's concern for the health of the economy did not extend to citizens when it comes to voting.
In mid-April, Parson was asked if he thinks the current pandemic was a valid reason for residents to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.
"I do not," he responded, calling efforts to expand absentee voting "more a political issue than it is anything."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.