Governor Parson Gives Updates on Missouri National Guard, Department of Economic Development Efforts to Assist with COVID-19 Response

 — In today’s press briefing, Governor Mike Parson provided updates on efforts by the Missouri National Guard, Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC), and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to assist with the state’s COVID-19 response. 

Governor Parson was joined by Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams, DED Director Rob Dixon, DOC Director Anne Precythe, and DNR Director Carol Comer. 

Missouri National Guard Assists with Efforts to Identify Potential Alternate Care Sites

Since Governor Parson’s signing of Executive Order 20-06 last week, the Missouri National Guard has been working as part of the state’s effort to identify potential alternate care sites, if needed, around Missouri. 

Along with the Guard, the agencies involved in these site surveys are DHSS, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Missouri Office of Administration, the Missouri Hospital Association, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

While nothing has been confirmed, several possible sites have been assessed, including:

  • Hy-Vee Arena (formerly Kemper Arena) and Silverstein Eye Centers Arena (formerly Independence Event Center) in Kansas City
  • The Dome at America's Center (formerly the Edward Jones Dome) in St. Louis
  • Hammons Student Center and JQH Arena in Springfield,
  • Missouri Southern State University Legget and Platt Arena in Joplin
  • The Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau
  • Hearnes Arena in Columbia

Two other possible sites are being assessed in Kansas City today. 

Three main selection criteria are being considered for these sites: 

  • Located in areas with deficient bed counts, 
  • Areas with spaces large enough for patient populations, and
  • Areas where utilities are available to start immediate construction if necessary. 

Department of Economic Development and Missouri Businesses Answer Call to Help During COVID-19 Crisis 

DED has been actively reaching out to business leaders across the state to see how they can assist during this challenging time. 

Last week, DED, SEMA, DHSS, and the Office of Administration partnered with the Cole County Commission and Missouri Association of Councils of Government to purchase 125 ventilators with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. $2.8 million in CDBG funding will be used for the purchase and distribution of the ventilators. 

Several Missouri companies have also responded to the call to help procure or produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers:

  • Barry Orscheln, CEO of Orscheln Farm and Home supply stores headquartered in Moberly, has activated his supplier networks and relationships and is now working with Carhartt to produce gowns and surgical masks.
  • K&K Supply, a construction equipment supplier based in Fenton, who is working with SEMA for the procurement of N95 masks.
  • Grainger Industrial Supply in Kansas City, who is working with SEMA for the procurement of medical shoe covers.
  • National Material Supply Co., an industrial and commercial supply distributor based in St. Louis.
  • Trabon Group, a Kansas City printing company, is now producing face shields for hospitals in the Kansas City area.

In addition to these employers, there are a number of breweries and distilleries that have shifted production or provided materials to produce hand sanitizer for health care workers, nursing homes, first responders and non profits:

  • J. Rieger & Co., a distillery in Kansas City in partnership with Blade and Timber Ax Throwing
  • Restless Spirits, a distillery in North Kansas City
  • 4 Hands Brewing company in St. Louis
  • Switchgrass distillery in Wellston in partnership with Bee Naturals
  • Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis

DED is continuing to work with manufacturers to procure and produce additional PPE and other medical equipment. 

Missouri State Parks Modifies Operations to Address Overcrowding

Out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent events, Missouri State Parks will modify operations at five state parks to address overcrowding and concerns regarding COVID-19 and public safety. The modifications, including the temporary closure of four of Missouri’s state parks and partial closure of one additional park, will take effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2 and are scheduled to continue until April 30.

The new measures will further implement the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The operation modifications include the following:

  • Castlewood State Park will close
  • Elephant Rocks State Park will close
  • Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and Park will close
  • Weston Bend State Park will close
  • St. Joe State Park will close the off-road vehicle riding area
  • Gates to individual parking lots may close at all state parks when the lot reaches capacity

DNR and the Missouri State Parks team are closely monitoring the progression of COVID-19 and its effects in Missouri. While safety, stewardship and service are all very important to Missouri State Parks, safety remains the top priority.

Department of Corrections Works to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

DOC is working to keep COVID-19 of prisons and are prepared to contain it should it come in. Preparation for communicable diseases is not new for DOC – the Department has always had plans and procedures in place and has enhanced them for COVID-19. 

  • Suspended offender visits March 12
  • Suspended offender transfers among facilities
  • Screening all offenders on intake
  • Screening all staff and others entering a facility
  • Strict sanitation schedule and guidelines at every prison
  • Ample cleaning supplies at every prison
  • Around-the-clock on-site medical care at every prison
  • Isolation cells, wings and units identified for use, if needed, at every prison

Missouri Vocational Enterprises, which operates 22 industries inside state prisons, has also modified operations to help communities during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Producing hand sanitizer at the chemical plant in Bonne Terree – started Friday and will have 6,800 gallons ready for distribution by the end of the week
  • Ramped up toilet paper production at the factory in Cameron with 600-800 additional cases each week –  now producing 3,500 cases (336,000 rolls) every week
  • Clothing factory at Jefferson City Correctional Center is making 4,000 protective gowns requested by the Missouri Veterans Commission 

Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 inside any Missouri Department of Corrections facility. One offender who already was hospitalized tested positive for COVID-19. He has since tested negative for the virus twice but remains hospitalized while being treated for other medical conditions.

Eighteen offenders have been tested. Four of these tests are pending, and 13 have been negative. Only one was positive but is now negative. Two non-prison staff have tested positive. Neither works in a correctional center.

All pictures from the briefing are available on Governor Parson’s Flickr page.