Missouri Government Actions on Covid-19 Updated 5/20/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Governor’s plan to increase testing
- Washington University begins trial of chloroquine testing
- debates and lawsuits about absentee voting
- St. Louis Zoo announces a reopening date
- According to Johns Hopkins University, Missouri ranks 41 out of 50 states for the number of per capita tests administered. This week, Governor Parson has announced the goal to test at least 7,500 residents a day, which is 60% more tests than last week. Governor Parson stated that “by increasing testing we can continue to slow the spread by identifying positive patients and isolating them as quickly as possible.”
- Washington University researchers are beginning a trial to test the drug chloroquine, which will be administered to 30,000 front-line healthcare workers across the world. The purpose of this testing will be to determine whether the drug has an effect on COVID-19 prevention or decreasing its severity. The study will also work on the lowest dose required to be effective to reduce side effects and treat more people. St. Louis-area healthcare workers can apply to participate in the trial.
- The St. Louis County Election Board has received around 70,000 applications for absentee voting, largely from residents who want to avoid polling places due to risk of exposure to COVID-19. Officials disagree on whether this fear qualifies under state law to allow absentee voting. Last week Missouri lawmakers moved to expand mail-in voting options during the duration of the pandemic, and if Governor Parson signs the bill, applications for mail-in voting are expected to accelerate. Governor Parson has stated that under the current law, fear of contracting COVID-19 is not a valid excuse for absentee voting.
- Missouri civil rights groups have filed suit in Cole County regarding residents’ ability to vote absentee in upcoming elections to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19. The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Missouri and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, alleges that requiring voters to appear at polling places puts the lives of Missouri residents at risk. However, a Cole County judge disagrees and has dismissed the action. Plaintiffs have filed an appeal in the Missouri Supreme Court.
- As St. Louis city reopens non-essential businesses this week, officials plan to allow certain businesses to expand outdoor seating into parking lots and streets, making it easier to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Businesses that want more outdoor space should develop a plan, communicate with their alderman, and apply for a permit.
- The St. Louis Zoo has announced it will reopen June 13, but visitors must follow certain guidelines. The Zoo will limit attendance and provide reservations for entrance to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Additionally, all guests over the age of 9 must wear face masks. The Zoo will begin taking reservations on June 8, via its website.