Gov. Mike Parson will keep Missouri under a state of emergency, but he is lifting some restrictions designed to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The restrictions, which are set to expire on Monday, limited the number of people who could be inside of businesses and waived some regulations affecting teachers and other professions.
But in his latest executive order, Parson said some provisions need to remain in place while the virus is still present. For example, the National Guard will remain activated until at least Sept. 15.
“Steps must be taken to prevent a substantial risk to public health and safety as we reopen Missouri’s economic and social activity,” the order notes.
Parson said the state has surpassed goals he laid out in early May when he began plotting a plan to jump-start the state’s pandemic-ravaged economy. Those goals included ramped up testing for COVID-19, adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, hospital capacity and data.
“It is truly incredible to see how far Missouri has come,” Parson said. “We have full confidence that Missouri is prepared and ready to move forward.”
“Missouri will be fully open for business,” Parson said during a press briefing Thursday.
His decision, however, comes as cases of COVID-19 have been rising in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis.
In Arizona, which reopened May 15, hospitals have been told to prepare for the worst. Texas has more hospitalized COVID-19 patients than at any time before. And the governor of North Carolina said recent jumps caused him to rethink plans to reopen schools or businesses.
The state reported an additional 203 coronavirus cases Thursday — bringing the total number to 15,390. That’s an increase of about 6.3 percent in the past week.
In addition to the new cases, the number of people who have died rose by 12, to 848.
Data shows hospitalizations increased across the state.
Statewide, 540 patients were hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19 — up 7 from the day before, according to a daily report by the Missouri Hospital Association.
In his order, the governor said the number of cases is expected to grow.
“The identification of additional cases in Missouri is likely to continue as we increase our testing capacity,” Parson wrote.
Parson allowed the state to reopen May 4, with limits on capacity for many businesses and organizations. The second phase of reopening, which had been scheduled to begin May 31, was pushed back to June 15 due to the resurgence in cases.
The social distancing guidelines did not apply to people in jobs that require close contact, such as those in hair salons and tattoo parlors, triggering concerns about a resurgence.
Restaurants were allowed to resume dine-in service as long as tables and seating are spaced according to social distance requirements.