Parson requests federal disaster declaration for Missouri; congressional delegation supports

Gov. Mike Parson addresses the media during a news conference May 29 in his Capitol office in Jefferson City, Missouri.
The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP, file

On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson requested President Donald J. Trump approve a major disaster declaration for the state, according to a news release Wednesday from the governor’s office.

Two programs were requested statewide: Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling, under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program; and FEMA’s Public Assistance Program.

The first program helps individuals and families while the FEMA Public Assistance Program provides assistance to local governments and qualifying nonprofits with emergency response expenses.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a devastating effect on the state of Missouri, straining hospitals, healthcare facilities and nursing homes, businesses large and small, schools, and tens of thousands of Missourians who have been forced out of their jobs,” Parson said via release. “Although it is continuing to develop, it’s already clear the COVID-19 pandemic will have a more sweeping impact on the entire state of Missouri than any other previous disaster that has affected our citizens. There is an urgent need for federal assistance to help Missouri families meet today’s challenges and the many more that we will face.”

Parson also requested FEMA help with expenses related to the removal and disposal of biohazard and other contaminated materials associated with the pandemic.

On Wednesday afternoon, Missouri's congressional delegation and senators sent a letter to the White House in support of the declaration and asked for the president's prompt action.

“In many Missouri communities, efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus are constrained by inadequate access to resources, including personal protective equipment. Businesses have been adversely affected by this virus, leaving workers and business owners without income. Multiple sectors of industry and state and local governments lack the capacity to counteract the negative economic impacts caused by the virus. Access to federal resources may better equip Missouri communities to appropriately respond to this public health emergency,” the delegation wrote. “We respectfully request your prompt action to ensure that our communities receive the immediate support needed to respond to this unprecedented disaster.”

The governor declared a state of emergency on March 13. On March 21, he directed Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, to issue a social distancing order. Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.