Smaller Missouri communities issuing stay-at-home orders

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Smaller local governments are issuing stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Missouri, where the governor hasn’t issued a statewide order.

Such orders took effect more than a week ago in the state’s biggest cities, including St. Louis and Kansas City, but smaller counties with few or no COVID-19 cases are getting in on the act and telling residents to leave home only for essential reasons, such as to buy groceries or medicine.

The order in St. Francois County, in southeastern Missouri, takes effect on Friday, The Kansas City Star reported. The county had five cases when it issued the order Monday and five more by Wednesday morning.

“There’s been a large public outcry in our county for a stay-at-home order,” said Amber Elliott, director of the St. Francois Health Center, which issued the order in coordination with the county commission. “In our case, in absence of a statewide action, we had to take action for our own community.

“We listened to the pleas of our residents.”

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, hasn’t ruled out issuing a statewide order, but he has said he is hesitant to impose state control over what he believes is a local issue.

Missouri had had 1,581 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, according to the state health department, indicating a 19.1 percent increase in cases from a day earlier. Three new coronavirus-related deaths reported Wednesday brought the state’s total to 18.

In Joplin, some residents have been posting online and writing letters to push the city to issue its own stay-at-home order, the Joplin Globe reported.

Deborah D. Sherz, a retired nurse who signed an online petition, said she watched neighbors having numerous visitors at a time. That, she said, exemplified that “people don’t understand the risk” because government leaders are allowing social distancing rules that she says are inadequate to slow the spread of the virus.

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