Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday that the COVID-19 outbreak is a disaster of such severity that state government cannot effectively respond.
So he’s calling for President Donald Trump to approve a major disaster declaration for the entire state in order to receive greater federal assistance.
The governor has previously downplayed the role of government in effectively combating the COVID-19 outbreak, saying repeatedly in his daily briefings that government can’t solve the problem. The key to stopping the virus, he says, is common sense and personal responsibility.
And despite his request for the federal declaration, Parson continues to rebuff calls by local officials, public health administrators and doctors to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.
Parson said Wednesday that the pandemic has already “had a devastating effect on the state of Missouri, straining hospitals, healthcare facilities and nursing homes, businesses large and small, schools, and tens of thousands of Missourians who have been forced out of their jobs,” Parson said, adding that it will “have a more sweeping impact on the entire state of Missouri than any other previous disaster that has affected our citizens.”
State and local mental health services will also require federal assistance, Parson said. He also requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency assist with removal and disposal of bio-hazard and other contaminated materials as a result of the pandemic.
The entire Missouri congressional delegation supported Parson’s request.
“Access to federal resources may better equip Missouri communities to appropriately respond to this public health emergency,” the delegation said in a letter to Trump Wednesday. “We respectfully request your prompt action to ensure that our communities receive the immediate support needed to respond to this unprecedented disaster.”
The governor declared a state of emergency in Missouri on March 13.
If the federal declaration is approved, Missouri would join California, New York, Washington, Louisiana and Iowa as states receiving increased federal assistance.