(Wednesday, April 20, 2020) — This week, the governor announced the first phase of his “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan, outlining steps Missouri will take to gradually reopen economic and social activity. Beginning Monday, May 4, citizens may begin returning to economic and social activities, but must adhere to social distancing requirements. We are still asked to maintain at least six feet of separation, but there will be no limit on the number of people who can gather together. Businesses will be allowed to reopen if they can do so while following social distancing guidelines.
The governor’s Show Me Strong Recovery Plan assumes four key components: expanding testing capacity and volume, increased supplies of personal protection equipment, continued monitoring of our health care capacity, and an improved ability to predict outbreaks of COVID-19. Prior to announcing relaxed rules, the governor extended the state of emergency in Missouri through June 15. This action does not renew the statewide stay-at-home order, but preserves his ability to take executive actions to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
MORE TESTING, MORE POSITIVES
With a population of just over 23,000, Saline County has reported more than 160 confirmed cases of the virus. It’s certainly bad news that so many of the county’s residents are suffering. The good news is that local health officials are doing a remarkable job identifying and tracking the transmission of COVID-19.
Working in cooperation with the Saline County Health Department, Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall offers curbside coronavirus testing, 24 hour a day. Any area resident may fill out the hospital’s online screening survey to start the process of getting tested. To date, the hospital has performed more than 1,700 tests for COVID-19. The governor and the White House have both identified increased testing as a key component in returning normalcy to the economy. Fitzgibbon is showing the rest of the state how it’s done. I applaud them for that.
The troubling levels of coronavirus infection in our area are proof that local officials are doing everything possible to identify cases of COVID-19. Fitzgibbon Hospital is not alone in this effort. Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg also has expanded testing opportunities, as have a number of other providers in the area. I believe our local health care professionals are doing a terrific job, and we all owe them our gratitude and appreciation.
WHITEMAN SALUTES KC
If you happened to look aside Tuesday morning and wondered if the United States was at war, fear not. Airmen from Whiteman Air Force Base were expressing their appreciation for health care workers and first responders in their own unique way. At approximately 10 a.m. a squadron of aircraft left Whiteman to fly a mission that took them above hospitals in Warrensburg, Sedalia, Lee’s Summit and the Kansas City area. A B-2 bomber, a pair of A-10 Thunderbolts and four T-38 Talon jets flew the route in honor of doctors, nurses, first responders, volunteers and other providers serving patients affected by COVID-19. If you missed this historic Whiteman Salutes KC flyover, check out Whiteman Air Base’s Facebook page, where you can see a video introduction to the pilots and highlights from the event.
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week for the final three weeks of the 2020 legislative session. From my perspective, our greatest priority during the remaining days of the 2020 legislative session is the passage of a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year. In fact, passing a budget is the only thing Missouri’s Constitution requires of the General Assembly. I believe drafting the 2021 budget will be a daunting task, given a projected general revenue shortfall of more than $750 million due to the coronavirus crisis.
The atmosphere and mood in the Capitol this week was unlike anything we have seen before, save for the two days we met earlier in April. Everyone entering the building was subject to a health screening. Most legislators and their staff wore face masks and every effort was made to maintain appropriate social distance. Audio feeds from committee meetings were carried live online so that the public would continue to monitor the activities of the Legislature.
It remains to be seen what we will accomplish during these final weeks. I’m confident we’ll get the budget done. We may manage to carry a few priority measures across the legislative finish line, as well. It’s clear to me, though, that many of the bills we considered vital at the beginning of the year no longer carry the same urgency. We’re just beginning the process of regrouping following our extended recess this spring. I hope to provide more details in future reports.
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 email@example.com.