Missouri Governor Mike Parson – who continues to resist calls to declare a statewide Stay at Home order to halt the spread of COVID-19 – asked President Donald J. Trump to approve a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Missouri on Tuesday, March 24.
“Although it is continuing to develop, it’s already clear the COVID-19 pandemic will have a more sweeping impact on the entire state of Missouri than any other previous disaster that has affected our citizens,” Parson stated. “There is an urgent need for federal assistance to help Missouri families meet today’s challenges and the many more that we will face.”
Trump – who continues to resist calls to declare a nationwide Stay at Home order to halt the spread of COVID-19 – has been scattered and inconsistent in his public comments about the pandemic. Most recently, he said he wants the states to remove any Stay at Home orders by Easter.
Parson requested two programs statewide, Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling, under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program, which provides assistance to individuals and families. He said the closure of multiple employment sectors will greatly impact all Missourians and that the state and local capabilities to provide mental health services will also require federal assistance.
Parson also requested FEMA's Public Assistance Program to assist local governments and qualifying nonprofit agencies with emergency response expenses, including those of first responders, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also requested that FEMA assist with debris removal expenses if needed for the removal and disposal of bio-hazard and other contaminated materials as a result of the pandemic response.
The entire Missouri congressional delegation – including U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, and U.S. Representatives Sam Graves, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Vicky Hartzler, Ann Wagner, Wm. Lacy Clay, Billy Long, and Jason Smith – sent a letter urging Trump to support Governor Parson’s disaster declaration request for the state.
“In many Missouri communities, efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus are constrained by inadequate access to resources, including personal protective equipment,” the delegation wrote.
“Businesses have been adversely affected by this virus, leaving workers and business owners without income. Multiple sectors of industry and state and local governments lack the capacity to counteract the negative economic impacts caused by the virus. Access to federal resources may better equip Missouri communities to appropriately respond to this public health emergency. We respectfully request your prompt action to ensure that our communities receive the immediate support needed to respond to this unprecedented disaster.”
On March 13, Parson declared a state of emergency in Missouri and activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 21, he directed Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams to order social distancing statewide. Dr. Williams limited social gatherings in Missouri to no more than 10 people; directed Missourians to avoid eating or drinking in restaurants, bars, or food courts; and ordered that schools remain closed.
Last week, Parson’s request for low-interest federal disaster loans for Missouri small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19 was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration.