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Missouri’s coronavirus state of emergency expiring

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s COVID-19 state of emergency will officially expire Friday after nearly two years, Gov. Mike Parson said.

Parson first enacted a state of emergency order on March 13, 2020, after COVID-19 reached Missouri. The order was extended five times, finally being tailored to focus on health care staffing concerns in August with an end date of Dec. 31. Parson said Thursday it would not be extended again.

“Thanks to the effectiveness of the vaccine, widespread efforts to mitigate the virus, and our committed health care professionals, past needs to continue the state of emergency are no longer present,” Parson said. “Over the last 22 months, we have coordinated with local, state, and private partners to mitigate COVID-19 and work towards returning to normalcy. We all now know how to best fight and prevent serious illness from this virus. The state stands ready to provide assistance and response, but there is no longer a need for a state of emergency.”

Around 600 waivers were approved for state agencies at one point through the declaration: They have decreased by nearly 80 percent, according to the Governor’s Office.

While all remaining waivers will expire Friday, departments and agencies will be able to seek permanent policy changes if needed to improve health care, business, and industrial outcomes. The state will also be flexible with its health care partners during the transition, Parson’s office said. 

The Missouri National Guard will no longer be mobilized to assist with the pandemic once the state of emergency expires. 

While the state of emergency is going away, Parson acknowledged that the pandemic was not. 

“The main focus of our state of emergency was to provide regulatory flexibility to support and assist Missourians, health care facilities, and businesses and coordinate a COVID-19 response that saved lives and livelihoods,” Parson said. “We encourage all Missourians to consider COVID-19 vaccination and to stay diligent, but we can work together to fight COVID-19 while living our normal lives. It is time to take this final step and move forward as a state.”

The state recorded 21,889 new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days and 29 confirmed deaths. The new omicron variant was identified in more than half of the communities chosen for sewershed testing by DHSS the week of Dec. 20. 

More than 64 percent of the state’s eligible population has received at least an initial dose of the vaccine, and 57 percent have been fully inoculated.

While Missouri is not facing a shortage of COVID-19 tests, according to Parson, there are still reported delays in testing supplies both online and with local health departments.