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In the wake of Missouri’s first COVID-19 death, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson urged Missourians this week to avoid leaving their residences.
“Everyone should stay at home,” Parson said during his daily press briefing Wednesday, March 18, hours after announcing the state’s first COVID-19 death in Boone County, and echoing previous calls at the local, state and national level.
“If you don’t need to be out right now, you should be staying at home. I think that’s an important message we can all deliver out there.”
As of press time Friday, Polk County had no confirmed cases, Parson said.
He said “it comes down to personal responsibility.”
“We can make all the laws that you want to make. At the end of the day, this virus will be on the conduct of the Missouri citizens,” he said.
At the same time, the governor encouraged Missourians to not “live in a society of fear.”
“Concern, yes. Fear, not,” he said. “We've gotta get through this. We’re going to get through this.”
Adding “at the end of the day, it comes down to common sense,” he said “people are going to have to understand” the pandemic “is a serious situation.”
“It’s not going to go away in a week or two,” he said. “So you better have a plan in place.”
During his press briefing the following day, the governor reiterated the importance of individual responsibility.
“If people will follow simple instructions, they can sure slow the process down of the COVID-19,” he said Thursday. “We all know that.”
Parson reiterated his faith in the state’s ability to triumph over tragedy — while emphasizing the long-term impact.
“So do I think it’s doomsday? By no means is it doomsday,” he said. “Are people going to come up and test positive? Yes. Will some people die? Yes, probably so. But the point of it is, we can conquer this. We can get through this. It is not going to be a week or two process. I do believe, for the short term outlook, maybe two or three months, so people have to understand that. That this is going to be a process.”
On Thursday, Parson also announced all Missouri public and charter schools had closed. Polk County schools had announced closures earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reported statewide required assessments are also cancelled.
During the briefing, the governor addressed the question of closing Missouri businesses — or at least those that are determined non-essential, as other states have done.
He said he doesn't “think it is the right thing to do at this time.”
Because of his experience as a small business owner himself, he said, he “personally” knows “the challenges that come with running a small business.”
“I know what it is like to take risk and build a business from the ground up,” he said, adding “the last thing we want is our small business owners to not be able to reopen their doors because we mandated they close prematurely.”
Noting “every community across our state has different needs,” he said his administration supports the decisions made by urban areas, including Springfield, to close some businesses.
Doing so in rural Missouri, he said, would present additional challenges.
“However, I strongly encourage all small business owners to take measures to help fight the spread of COVID-19,” he said, advising tactics such as staggering shifts and reiterating everyone should practice social distancing.
“We have to continue to fight,” he said.
Local groups adapt
Heeding the call from local, state and national leaders, local organizations have continued to issue cancellations and schedule changes.
Below are new updates the BH-FP has obtained. The list is not extensive. For additional notifications, refer back to the Wednesday, March 18, issue of the BH-FP.
Have a cancellation or change? Send it to email@example.com
● Art Sync Gallery & Gift: The gallery is closed until April 15. All meetings and classes will be rescheduled at a later date. Art will be posted on the organization’s Facebook page, and inquiries may be directed to the gallery via private message. Entries for the Aspiring Artists show will be stored until the gallery reopens. In the meantime, artists may also contact the gallery via Facebook to receive back their art.
● Bank of Sullivan Easter egg hunt: The event set for later this month in Pleasant Hope has been canceled.
● Bolivar Herald-Free Press:The newspaper’s office will be open from 8 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. and from 3:20 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. During the lunchtime closure, any inquiries or payments may still be made via phone at 326-7636.The newspaper also has a drop box outside the front door that may be used at any time. Arrangements may be made for individuals who wish to pick up items via the box, as well.
● CTA school board forum: Bolivar CTA’s Thursday, March 26, school board forum has been canceled.
● Lincoln Days: The event, originally set for Thursday, March 26, has been canceled.
● Pleasant Hope City Hall: The lobby is closed until further notice. Utility payments can be dropped at O’Bannon Bank or mailed to city hall.
● Polk County Genealogical Society: The facility is open by appointment only until further notice. For more information, call 777-2820 during regular hours.
● Polk County Health Center: In order to adhere to national and state recommendations, the center’s lobby will be closed for the next two weeks. Limited services will be available at the drive-thru window and by appointment with providers, as needed. Available drive-thru services include water testing, birth and death certificates, well and septic permits and WIC check pickup. Women’s health services, free clinics and immunizations will be by appointment only. Foot care, fingerprinting, STD and lab testing services have been suspended.
● Polk County Senior Center: The center, along with all SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging facilities, is closed through the end of March. All clinics, including tax counseling sessions, have been canceled. For information about drive-thru or home delivery meals, call 326-5570.
● Roy Blunt YMCA of Bolivar: Bolivar’s Y, along with all Ozarks Regional YMCA facilities, is closed through at least March 31.
● Stephens Pharmacy: The pharmacy’s lobby is closed to the public. However, customers may continue to pick up prescriptions through the drive-thru, utilize delivery services or request prescriptions be mailed. Call 326-2416 for more information.
● Sullivan Bank: The bank is serving customers via the drive-thru windows only at all locations, including in Pleasant Hope, until further notice. The drive-thru lanes will remain open, and business hours will not change. For more information or to inquire about appointments, call 800-645-3191 during regular business hours.