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‘Stay at home’ order likely to be extended

(AP) — Regional leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City may decide by the end of the week whether to extend stay-at-home orders in Missouri’s two largest urban areas, regardless of whether the statewide mandate is allowed to expire.

St. Louis, Kansas City and their suburbs invoked stay-at-home orders several days before the order from Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican. That order began April 6 and is set to expire April 24. Parson has been non-committal about whether the statewide order will be extended but has cited a need to restart the economy that has been savaged during the shutdown aimed at slowing the coronavirus.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said Tuesday via Twitter: “While we haven’t officially decided to extend our stay at home past April 22, it is something we must consider. And we have to do it guided by science, data & professional expertise from our regional healthcare/hospital partners.

“We can’t let up now.”

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday that he, other regional leaders and medical experts had been in discussions and that a decision could be announced this week.

“I would expect from those discussions that the stay-at-home order will be extended into May, but I’m not prepared to give you a specific date,” said Page, a Democrat.

St. Louis County, the state’s most populous county with 1 million residents, has been hit harder by the coronavirus than anyplace else in Missouri. The county has reported 1,811 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 58 deaths from the disease caused by the virus.

Kansas City’s health director, Dr. Rex Archer, told KCUR that public health and elected officials will gather this week to recommend a plan for when to reopen businesses.

Archer and Page agree that access to more testing is vital before stay-at-home orders can be lifted. Archer also cited a need to ensure that there is adequate personal protective equipment for health care providers.

Parson, who was among the nation’s last governors to issue a stay-at-home mandate, has not said if he’ll extend the order. He said Tuesday that he had talked with other governors but ultimately would do what he thought was best for Missouri.

He emphasized that a key priority for the Legislature when it reconvenes later this month will be getting businesses up and running and people back to work.

Most infected people develop mild or moderate coronavirus symptoms that clear up within three weeks, such as fever and cough. But older adults and people with existing health problems are particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Sixteen more Missourians have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 153, according to data Wednesday from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which has been tracking cases worldwide.

Johns Hopkins also cited 4,784 cases in Missouri, which was 253 more than the 4,531 cases reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Parson announced that Missouri would receive $152.4 million in federal stimulus money for 75 airports. St. Louis Lambert International Airport will get $60 million of that, and Kansas City International will receive $43.3 million. Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Columbia Regional Airport, Joplin Regional Airport and Springfield-Branson National Airport also are receiving more than $1 million each.

MetroSTL staff contributed to this report.

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