During the governor’s Friday, March 27, virtual press briefing, the Missouri National Guard’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Levon Cumpton, assures Missourians the guard is committed to and stands ready to serve its neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis.
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Twenty-three days after the first presumptive positive case in Missouri, confirmed incidents of the novel coronavirus across the state surpassed 1,000 this week, according to statewide reporting.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, March 30, the state cited 1,031 confirmed cases, including 13 deaths.
As of press time Tuesday, no cases had been reported in Polk County yet. However, neighboring Cedar County reported three cases Monday, according to the Cedar County Office of Emergency Management.
During his daily virtual press briefing Monday, Gov. Mike Parson said the peak of Missouri cases is currently predicted to arrive in mid-April.
“I think we are still 60, 90 days away from getting through this virus,” he said, adding such a prediction is a “best-case scenario.”
Saying he doesn’t “want to give false hope,” Parson described April as an anticipated “tell-tale month,” adding no one really knows when the virus will peak.
Parson reiterated Missouri’s potential success in the wake of the pandemic will come down to “personal responsibility” and whether or not individuals obey the state order restricting gatherings to 10 or fewer people who stay at least 6 feet apart.
“This is the only way we stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said, adding “it’s going to take all of us, working together and obeying social distance orders.”
He said he expects this week to extend the order restricting gatherings of 10 or more.
Currently, the order — which went into effect Monday, March 23 — is set to expire Monday, April 6.
“We know this is not easy, and it may seem like there is no end in sight,” Parson said Monday, “but I assure you, we will get through this.”
Bolivar echoes state requirements
Bolivar’s mayor announced Monday, March 30, he’s enacting a new order to further restrict gatherings as concerns continue surrounding the spread of the new coronavirus.
The order prohibits any gatherings of more than 10 people, with the exception of schools, daycares and businesses.
The prohibition went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, and lasts for 15 days, the order says.
All residents and visitors to Bolivar also “need to be diligent and to continue the best practices of cleanliness and social distancing,” the city’s order says.
The order urges residents to stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not part of their immediate families and to “only go out in public as necessary for essential purposes.”
It asks residents to “be considerate of the health of others,” urging them to clean up after themselves and remove possible contaminants when out in public.
The order urges businesses to “use precautions,” like sanitizing between each visitor to establishments, “to minimize the possibility of passing the COVID-19 virus from person to person.”
On Tuesday, March 31, the city announced the closure of the Cribbs Family Youth Park and the delayed opening of the Bolivar Aqua Zone “to help enforce the limiting of public gatherings.” City staff also placed caution tape around playground equipment in both Dunnegan Memorial and Elmwood parks.
As the new coronavirus began impacting the area, Bolivar Mayor Chris Warwick declared a state of emergency and ordered a limitation on gatherings of 50 or more people on Tuesday, March 17. The Polk County Commission imposed the same limitation on gatherings within the county on Monday, March 16.
Warwick and the commission both previously said their decisions were based upon the recommendation of the Polk County Health Center.
The latest order says the further restriction comes after a case of COVID-19 “has been reported to have been present in Polk County.”
Citizens Memorial Hospital announced Saturday an employee who lives in Cedar County and works in Bolivar tested positive for COVID-19, as previously reported. Warwick confirmed the change to gathering limitations is related to this case.
On Monday evening, Warwick issued a statement saying he revised the order because “COVID-19 is knocking at our door.”
“As we continue to see positive cases getting closer and closer to Bolivar, as we have seen this weekend with an employee of CMH who lives in Cedar County, it is of the utmost importance that we take the precautions necessary to keep our numbers to the least possible cases,” he said.
City Administrator Tracy Slagle said “it was time to send a message of encouragement that a very large population is doing the right thing.”
But, she said, city leaders fear the restrictions will “soon ‘wear’ on people.”
“Tired of staying at home, maybe fear of lost revenues, or an attitude that nothing bad happened here, why keep doing this?” Slagle said. “I think it’s imperative to encourage everyone to maintain the course of action.”
Read more from the mayor in a guest column on Page 4A, and find the full order online at BolivarMoNews.com.