JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday that Missouri would be grappling with the new coronavirus for “some time,” even as President Donald Trump said he is hoping the United States will be reopened by Easter.
Easter is just over two weeks away, on April 12.
“I hope the president’s right, let me just say that,” Parson said at a virtual news conference on Tuesday. “But the reality of it is, we’re planning this much longer than two weeks here in the state of Missouri. And I think that’s how you do — to make a good plan — how you’re gonna deal with the crisis.
“We all know that we believe that this is gonna continue for some time,” Parson said.
Trump, like Parson a Republican, on Tuesday said during a Fox News virtual town hall that he would “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”
“Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full,” Trump said in a subsequent interview. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country.”
Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths.
While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, such as New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.
Missouri had reported 227 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and five deaths as of Tuesday.
Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten said Tuesday the Parson administration had redirected $18 million in the state budget to “meet the critical need” of obtaining personal protective equipment.
“It is the No. 1 issue we are hearing about,” Karsten said. “Working day and night, our SEMA (State Emergency Management Agency) team has been working very hard to acquire PPE from commercial markets — from major suppliers to vendors on Amazon.”
Karsten said SEMA had placed orders for $17.3 million worth of personal protective equipment.
Parson also said the state’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will look drastically different than the proposal he outlined in January, which assumed fiscal growth of 1.9%.
“There is no doubt the original budget we proposed is going to change drastically,” Parson said. “There will be major changes as we move forward.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.