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Amid latest surge, Missouri governor won’t renew COVID-19 state of emergency

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JEFFERSON CITY — Even as the number of COVID-19 cases is surging, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that he will let a 22-month-long state of emergency declaration expire on New Year’s Eve.

With more than 15,000 dead in the state from the respiratory virus, Parson said he would not renew the declaration saying “there is no longer a need for a state of emergency.”

“We encourage all Missourians to consider COVID-19 vaccination and to stay diligent, but we can work together to fight COVID-19 while living our normal lives. It is time to take this final step and move forward as a state,” Parson said.

The move comes as Missouri topped 1 million cases, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The surge has triggered a rush to get tested, resulting in frustrating bottlenecks at test sites.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported Thursday that new hospital admissions increased to 169, up from 136 on Wednesday, representing a new record for COVID-19 admissions in one day.

Over the past week, hospital admissions have increased to 113 Thursday from 105 on Wednesday.

Across the region’s hospitals, bed capacity is at 89%, with intensive care units at 80% of their total staffed bed capacity, the task force reported.

The expiration means the Missouri National Guard will no longer be activated to assist in the battle to contain the disease.

“Over the last 22 months, we have coordinated with local, state, and private partners to mitigate COVID-19 and work towards returning to normalcy. We all now know how to best fight and prevent serious illness from this virus,” Parson said.

The governor, a Republican, extended the state of emergency five times before issuing a final targeted executive order for health care needs in August. Currently, three of Missouri’s border states and 20 other states have states of emergency related to COVID-19 in place.

At one time, nearly 600 statutory and regulatory waivers were approved across Missouri state government. Since that peak, waivers have reduced by nearly 80%.

Parson has spent much of the pandemic opposing mandates and business closures, instead urging people to get vaccinated.

“The best method to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 is vaccination, and more and more Missourians continue choosing to get primary and booster vaccinations. In the month of December alone, more than 565,000 doses of vaccine were administered and 42% were part of a primary vaccine series,” he said in a news release.

More than 62% of Missourians have initiated vaccinations.

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