(The Center Square) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday terminated his March 2020 executive order declaring a state of emergency at the pandemic’s beginning and issued a new order focused on continued assistance for the state’s health care system.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Missouri Hospital Association and a dozen other health care organizations wrote to Parson during the past week to urge an extension of the declaration of the state of emergency specifically pertaining to health care.
“We have always taken a balanced approach in our response to COVID-19, and this new order demonstrates the progress we have made in fighting this virus,” Parson said in a statement. “Like all Missourians, we want this crisis to end and to close this chapter. However, while we are shifting our operations, we must maintain flexibility to aid our health care system and adapt to the challenges we face.”
The new executive order provides regulatory flexibility and ensures compliance with federal guidelines. It continues providing assistance to physicians, pharmacists and hospitals as they continue to treat those with COVID-19 infections. The ongoing waivers include:
- allowing physicians and pharmacists expanded use of telemedicine to decrease the risk of exposure to both health care providers and patients;
- waiving or suspending statutory requirements and administrative rules where strict compliance would prevent, hinder or delay actions to respond to staff shortages;
- temporarily waive any statutory requirement or administrative rule to best serve public health and safety.
“The Missouri Hospital Association and its members deeply appreciate Gov. Parson’s decision to extend the state’s emergency declaration and health care-related regulatory waivers,” Herb Kuhn, president and chief executive officer of the Missouri Hospital Association, said in a statement sent minutes after the new declaration. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges for hospitals and the state’s health care system and the regulatory flexibilities granted to date have allowed health care providers to respond quickly and efficiently. By extending the declaration and waivers, the governor is granting the health care community the necessary tools to manage the delta variant surge and future pandemic-related threats.”
The new state of emergency allows activation of the Missouri National Guard for support, if needed. Notary services also can continue to be conducted remotely under the order. The new order will end on Dec. 31, 2021.
At the peak of the pandemic, the state executed more than 600 statutory and regulatory waivers. The number of waivers will be reduced to 163 under the new order.
“In the nearly 18 months we operated under this executive order, we have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by providing unprecedented levels of resources and support,” Parson said. “This order enabled us to respond to the unknown and everchanging needs of our state. Now, we know how to fight this virus and have a solution to ending the pandemic with the vaccine. Today we are terminating this order as our situation no longer demands an expansive emergency declaration.”
More than 624,000 Missourians tested positive for COVID-19 since last March, according to the department of health and senior services, including 11,738 – 2% of total infections – during the last seven days. Approximately 2,400 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Missouri on Friday, with 690 requiring intensive care. The numbers resulted in 82% of inpatient beds utilized and 86% of ICU beds.
More than 2.7 million, or 44.6%, of Missourians completed vaccination; 3.1 million received at least one dose. Approximately 5.7 million total doses were administered, including 92,504 during the last seven days, an average of 13,215 per day. The seven-day averages in late June and early July were below 10,000 per day.
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