“There have been many things said about how this virus spreads, all the way from restaurants and bars to kinds of things that are in the news,” Parson told reporters Thursday morning. “But I tell you, this virus is everywhere. It’s in our communities, it’s in our families, it’s in our businesses.”
Parson said hospitals were beginning to see staffing and capacity issues as positive case rates rise throughout the state. He said he would be looking into ways to increase staffing, including possibly sending members of the Missouri National Guard to assist hospitals where needed.
“Our positivity rates, our hospitalizations, all of those are up,” Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said. “Even though we have more resources and more things in the pipeline that give us great hope, at this moment in time, your risk of getting COVID-19 is the highest it’s been.”
Parson initially called a state of emergency to address the pandemic in March, waiving regulations for certain departments to allow them to respond to the virus. This is the third time the order has been extended; it had been set to expire on Dec. 30.
Parson maintained his stance on local control when asked about a statewide mask mandate and encouraged Missourians to follow health orders and limit the size of holiday gatherings.
“It’s our responsibility as citizens of this great state to take it upon ourselves to do the right thing,” Parson said. “And, I’m calling on every citizen, no matter where they’re from rural Missouri or an urban area to do just that.”
Parson said the state would be releasing guidelines on mitigating the spread of the virus to counties on Thursday.
At least 257,822 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday morning, and 3,507 people have died. Over the past seven days, more than 27,000 new cases have been identified with a positivity rate of 23.7 percent. More than 2,400 Missourians are hospitalized, including 582 in the ICU and 298 on ventilators.