Missouri may start to reopen in coming weeks

Missouri may start to reopen in coming weeks
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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) said he will soon begin a “phased approach” to reopening the state after coronavirus-related lockdowns, although he said the state will need to increase its daily testing capacity before beginning that process.

"Testing is going to be a big factor when you really 'reopen' the state ... where people start feeling they're safe again to go out and come back to some sort of normal life," Parson told NPR's "All Things Considered" on Wednesday.

Parson told NPR that the state is testing about 3,000 people a day, while he estimated officials need to be conducting between 40,000 and 50,000 daily tests.

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In the meantime, he said, the state will look at broader data trends and variations in the virus’s impact on urban and rural parts of the state.

"I think you could see that in the next several weeks, we'll have a phased approach," he said. "We'll probably open the state up for economics, probably different areas of the state at different times."

Missouri's stay-at-home order is set to expire April 24, though some individual municipalities in the state have issued longer stay-at-home orders, NPR reported.

Parson has already delayed municipal elections set for April until June 2, but said he does not plan to expand options or voting by mail, saying he considers it an issue that must go through the state legislature, which is not in session.

"I just don't think any one individual should be out there making that call," he told NPR.

Parson’s comments come as governors on both the West Coast and in the Northeast have formed coalitions to develop a regional plan for reopening their economies when they deem it appropriate.

They also come as state residents have increasingly pushed for a reopening of their states’ economies sooner rather than later to offset the shutdown’s economic toll, despite warnings from public health officials. Demonstrators gathered at the Ohio and Michigan state capitols Wednesday, while Pennsylvania Republicans passed a bill that could open some businesses early.