KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri should be able to conduct thousands of tests per day for the coronavirus and deploy mobile testing sites throughout the state on or around April 1, Gov. Mike Parson said Monday.
Parson also announced the state's sixth case of the disease, this one in Greene County in southwestern Missouri. He said 170 people in the state had been tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and that 164 of them had tested negative.
For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section
Parson and Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said during a news conference that the state's criteria will change from travel-related and the most severe cases to trying to find people with coughs and fevers of 104 degrees.
"The good news for the time being is that help is on the way," Parson said. "I think we're going to be able to see a lot more on the testing side of it that will reassure the people of the state. I think you'll also see mobile testing sites in different areas around the state" particularly in areas that currently struggle with access to health care.
The governor said state officials are currently following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in reference to whether to close schools, businesses and higher learning facilities, but he noted the situation is fluid and could change.
Parson on Sunday strongly encouraged the cancellation or suspension of public events with more than 50 people following federal health officials' recommendations that those events be halted in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
He said Monday that he is aware of the impact this could have on businesses and the economy, but that public safety must be the state's top priority.
"Missouri has been through tough times before and we're going to get through these," Parson said. "... Right now we're just asking people to help as much as they can help and (to) try to be responsible."
Kansas City- and St. Louis-area officials said they were banning events with more than 50 people for eight weeks in accordance with the CDC's recommendation. St. Louis-area leaders also recommended that all K-12 schools close by Wednesday at the latest until further notice.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a tweet that officials from the city and surrounding counties, including St. Clair and Madison Counties in Illinois, expected to decide soon whether to require the mandatory closure of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court suspended nearly all in-person proceedings in appellate and circuit courts through at least April 3. The order also includes associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate divisions, with some exceptions. The court said the order would be extended "if circumstances warrant."
The court said in a news release that the presiding judges in the state's 46 judicial circuits and chief judges in the three districts of the appeals court will decide how exceptions to the order will be conducted. Judges in those proceedings will have discretion to excuse jurors or other individuals who cannot or should not appear because of the virus.
The court said its order doesn't affect its ability to consider or rule on matters that don't require in-person proceedings.
St. Louis' circuit court on Monday canceled jury trials through April 10 and encouraged judges to use videoconferencing for court appearances.
Also Monday, the Missouri State High School Activities Association canceled semifinal and championship boys and girls basketball games that had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Springfield.
The vast majority of people recover from the coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe ones can take three to six weeks get well.