Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has extended Missouri’s statewide stay-at-home order through May 3, but pledged the next day “people are going to go back to work” so the state’s economy can begin to recover from the coronavirus shutdown.
But most businesses won’t be reopening anytime soon in Missouri’s two urban areas. Democratic leaders of Kansas City, Jackson County, St. Louis and St. Louis County all announced they were extending stay-at-home orders through at least mid-May.
Parson, a Republican, said it is imperative to get businesses back in operation and Missourians working again after weeks of forced closure aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
“People are going to go back to work on May the fourth,” Parson said.
Parson was among the last governors to issue a stay-at-home order. Missouri’s order began April 6 and was set to expire April 24. St. Louis and Kansas City and their suburbs, along with several other counties, initiated their own shelter-in-place orders several days before that.
The extended orders announced by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page have no end date, but both said they’ll re-evaluate in mid-May. Orders by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. require residents to stay at home, with exceptions for things such as grocery and supply trips or medical visits, through May 15.
Across the country, social isolation aimed at slowing the coronavirus has devastated the economy. Nearly 22 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits in the past month, by far the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. Backlash against restrictions has begun, including a protest in Michigan on Wednesday. A similar protest is planned in Jefferson City for next week.
Parson said the stay-at-home order has been difficult, but the effort has worked: Projections now call for fewer cases and deaths than were originally feared. He said his program, which he called the “Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan,” acknowledges that work remains, including expanding testing capacity and coming up with more personal protective equipment.
But Krewson said during her own news conference that removing shelter-in-place restrictions runs the risk of creating a new wave of illnesses.
More than half of the confirmed cases in Missouri, and 86 of the deaths, have occurred in St. Louis city and county.