Missouri reported having 2,113 cases of COVID-19 in the state as of Friday afternoon, April 3. Positive test results are up by more than 15% from the day prior. The state's death toll stands at 19.
During his press briefing Friday, Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-home order for all Missourians from Monday to Friday, April 6 to 24. He said the virus has infected residents in 76 of the state's 114 counties. Of the more than 24,700 state residents tested in Missouri, 8.5% tested positive.
“First and foremost, I want everyone to know that I love this state and the people of this state,” Parson said. “The people of this great state clearly define who we are in Missouri, and as governor, I have no greater responsibility than to protect the health, well-being and safety of all Missourians.”
In Clay County, as of 4:45 p.m. Friday, there were a total of 61 residents with the virus and zero reported deaths. Of those in the county, 36 reside in Kansas City while the remaining 25 are elsewhere in the county including one that was reported in Smithville, according to a social media post from Smithville Police earlier in the day.
Among other guidelines, the governor's order requires the following:
• Missouri residents to avoid leaving their homes or places of residence and avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people;
• public and charter schools remain closed for the duration of the order;
• entities that do not employ individuals to perform essential worker functions, as set forth in guidance provided by the federal government, to adhere to the limitations on social gatherings and social distancing; and
• entities engaged in retail sales to the public to limit the number of individuals in any particular retail location to 25% or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy for a retail location with less than 10,000 square feet or 10% or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy for a retail location with 10,000 square feet or more.
"The order does not prohibit Missourians from accessing essential services such as grocery stores, gas stations and banks, or engaging in outdoor recreation, provided that necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19," states a governor's office release.
“This is not about any one individual person. This is about our families, friends, neighbors and the entire state of Missouri," the governor said. "For the sake of all Missourians, be smart, be responsible and stay home, Missourians.”
The order comes after health care experts with the CDC changed recommended guidelines for protective face coverings for people leaving the house to help flatten the curve of infection rates. It is estimated that without more protective measures put in place, Missouri's peak infection rate will not occur until May 21, according to the University of Washington, when it's estimated there will be up to 22 deaths per day.
"The virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as in grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission," states the CDC website, www.cdc.gov.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.
"Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders," states the CDC site.
During his press briefing on the virus Friday, President Donald Trump said while the CDC recommends cloth face coverings, the recommendation is voluntary and one he likely will not follow.
"I'm choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it. That's OK, it may be good," he said.
The new face covering guidelines come on the heels of reports across the nation that say protective gear such as masks, gloves, face shields are respirators are in universal and critically low supply. On the Nightly News on NBC Friday, nurses in New York called the front lines they face in treating patients a “suicide mission” due to a lack in personal protective equipment.
Closer to home, medical personnel at Liberty Hospital expressed concern to the Courier-Tribune about being put at risk for getting sick after they said they were asked to reuse face masks in light of shortages.
“Masks are being conserved as required according to the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines,” Raghu Adiga, Liberty Hospital’s chief medical officer who has a clinical focus in infectious diseases, said. “There are short-term and long-term plans. People have access to what we need and we are not at the crisis level yet.”
To help provide hospital staff with needed supplies, Liberty Hospital Foundation is seeking donations of hand-sewn face masks and other medical supplies including N-95 masks, face shields, medical gowns, nitrile gloves and hand sanitizers. The Liberty Fire Department is also collecting and accepting donations of homemade masks. These homemade masks will save the surgical disposable masks and N-95 masks for use by paramedics.