The Senate has been in recess this past week as our leadership extended our previously scheduled spring hiatus out of concern for the coronavirus. That means that, like you, I’ve been at home practicing my social distancing skills and trying to learn as much as I can about this global pandemic. The news from Europe and Asia is alarming, but Americans appear to be taking the threat seriously. If we slow the spread of the virus, I believe we may be able to avoid the devastating impacts that other countries have seen and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. That’s the reason public health experts are urging us to limit contact with each other for a time.
The White House has issued guidelines for all Americans to help prevent a coronavirus catastrophe in this country. “15 Days to Slow the Spread” calls on all of us to do a few simple things: Work from home if possible, avoid social gatherings, put off visits to restaurants and bars, delay discretionary travel, refrain from contact with seniors and other vulnerable people and practice good hygiene. Above all else, the president implores us to stay home if we feel ill or have any reason to believe we’ve been exposed to COVID-19. For up-to-date information about the spread of the coronavirus in Missouri, visit the Department of Health and Senior Services’ website at https://health.mo.gov. The department also has a 24-hour hotline to address your questions and concerns at 877-435-8411. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a wealth of information at www.cdc.gov.
In my opinion, the measures being imposed around our state and nation will inevitably cause harm to our economy. Congress is currently working on legislation that should provide relief to Americans whose livelihood has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Here in Missouri, the governor has begun the process of qualifying businesses for assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Details on these relief programs are still being worked out, but I’ll update you as more information is available. Also, you should know that many of the utilities that serve our area have promised to temporarily suspend service disconnections for non-payment and waive late fees. These bills will eventually come due, however, so I caution all residents to keep up with their bills if they can.
For now, our focus should be on slowing the spread of infection. Let’s all keep our distance from each other and avoid unnecessary personal contact. Wash your hands, disinfect frequently touched surfaces and stay home if you’re sick. The goal of these precautions is not just to protect our own individual health, but also to keep from infecting others. We need to be especially mindful to not spread the virus to older people or those whose health is already compromised. The Department of Health and Senior Services has asked all nursing homes and residential care facilities to restrict visitors and cancel group activities. Visitation has also been suspended at Missouri’s correctional institutions. Most schools in the state have either canceled classes or adopted distance -learning technologies. Colleges and universities, including the University of Central Missouri, will conduct classes online for the remainder of the semester. Nearly every large public gathering and sporting event has been postponed or canceled. On March 18, the governor signed an executive order postponing April’s municipal elections until June 2. I believe all of these precautions are intended to spare Americans from the devastating spread of the coronavirus seen in Europe and Asia. We’re being asked, as a nation, to come together and look out for one another. If we take the necessary steps to limit the spread of the virus, we may someday look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Let’s hope and pray that’s the case.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you can do
—Wash your hands
—Avoid touching your face
—Disinfect frequently used surfaces
—Stay home if you feel sick
—Avoid large social gatherings
—Limit visits to indoor public spaces, such as restaurants, bars and stores
—Avoid discretionary travel
—Do not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities
Facts, not fear