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Trump approves Parson’s request for federal major disaster declaration


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — President Donald Trump has partially approved Gov. Mike Parson‘s request for a federal disaster declaration in Missouri to help with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Parson had asked the president for two statewide programs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling and the Public Assistance Program. The first would help individuals as businesses have shuttered; the second would assist local governments and certain nonprofit agencies responding to the pandemic. 

Trump approved the Public Assistance Program but the other is still under review, the governor said Thursday evening.

“I appreciate the President acting quickly on my disaster declaration request and the commitment of federal resources as we battle this unprecedented public health and economic threat to Missourians,” Parson said in a statement. “As I’ve said throughout our COVID-19 response effort, we will continue to pursue every way possible to adapt and deliver additional resources to help protect the health of Missourians and promote long-term recovery.”

The entire Missouri congressional delegation — made up of Republicans and Democrats — signed onto a letter to the president requesting the declaration. 

“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.  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,” the delegation wrote. “We respectfully request your prompt action to ensure that our communities receive the immediate support needed to respond to this unprecedented disaster.” 

While Parson ordered statewide social distancing, several local municipalities have issued stay at home orders. As a result, restaurants have closed their dining rooms or shuttered completely. Other businesses, too, have closed. 

The federal disaster declaration would provide resources to local governments and nonprofits assisting with emergency response expenses as well as mental health services. The request also asked FEMA for help with removing bio-hazard and other contaminated materials. 

At least 502 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, with eight deaths. And despite the president’s prediction the country will be “raring to go by Easter,” Parson told reporters during a recent press conference he expects the fallout to be long-lasting. 

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease is called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or “COVID-19.” It can cause severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned.

DHSS has opened a public hotline operated by medical professionals around the clock seven days a week. The hotline number is 877-435-8411.

This story has been updated. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.