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Parson talks of reopening state as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson is turning his sights on reopening the economy.

"We got to get people back to work," he said in Wednesday’s press briefing. "We got to get the economy going here in the state of Missouri, that's critical. It's an important issue we're dealing with right now. And we're making plans to reopen the state."

Parson said he’s been working closely with governors in other states to coordinate efforts to reopen state economies.

"I think we are all trying to look beyond the COVID-19 virus and start planning on how we open up the economy and still deal with this virus," he said. "Knowing this virus is still going to be around for a while — we still got to open up the economies in our states, so we're going to do that."

On Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases in Missouri climbed by more than 200 to reach 4,895. The number of deaths increased to 147 people — up from 133 on Tuesday.

Parson said he will speak more about plans to reopen the state and about the statewide stay-at-home order, which was scheduled to expire April 24, during Thursday’s news briefing.

Much of Wednesday’s briefing centered on education. Missouri schools will receive $208 million from the federal government under the CARES Act for elementary and secondary schools, Parson said.

In-person instruction is canceled for the remainder of the school year, but Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials are working to determine what re-entry into school buildings will look like, Margie Vandever, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education commissioner, said.

"Not only do we need a consistent plan to ensure that students and educators across the state return to school safely, we need to be prepared to quickly address the educational gaps and the enhanced social and emotional learning needs that may surface among our students," Vandever said.

The $208 million will go toward technology, infrastructure, teacher training on distance learning and moving resources to areas of highest need, Vandever said.

"During this time, I continue to be proud of our school leaders, teachers and counselors, food service workers and the other school staff members, as well as our Missouri students and their families. For the many ways they have risen and will continue to rise to the occasion to tackle the challenges presented through COVID-19," she said.

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