Sen. Brian Williams’ Legislative Column for March 30, 2020

Senator Brian Williams’ Weekly COVID-19 Updates for March 30, 2020

The situation concerning the COVID-19 virus is constantly changing in our state. On a nearly daily basis, our governor is providing updates on how the state is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is also providing daily updates from the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center to members of the Missouri General Assembly. As your state senator, I will also be providing updates on our state and community’s response to the COVID-19 virus.

Restaurants Allowed to Sell Unprepared Food

On March 23, the governor signed Executive Order 20-05 which will allow restaurants to sell unprepared food directly to the public. Currently, restaurants may only serve food through their drive-thru, pickup or delivery services because of the statewide social distancing order. I believe social distancing is important, but in my opinion, this action has had a devastating effect on our community’s bars and restaurants. By signing this executive order, I believe the governor’s actions will give restaurants and bars the opportunity to access a new source of revenue during this difficult time. In addition, I believe it also has the potential to relieve the additional pressure placed on our community’s grocery stores to keep their shelves fully stocked at all times. This executive order will end on May 15, unless the governor extends it.

Request for Federal Major Disaster Declaration for Missouri

On Tuesday, March 24, the governor requested the president approve a major disaster declaration for the state of Missouri in order to provide additional federal assistance for state and local COVID-19 preparedness and emergency response efforts. On March 26, the president approved the governor’s request.

The governor’s approved request includes access to FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to help local governments with emergency response expenses, especially for first responders, in responding to this pandemic. The request will allow local governments, nonprofits and the state to be reimbursed for the expenses associated with emergency protective measures taken by first responders and others responding to the COVID-19.

In addition, the governor is also requesting access to two additional federal programs for statewide use, Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling. These programs are operated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program. The Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program will help individuals who are filing for unemployment and the Crisis Counseling Program will assist the state in providing mental health services during this time. This request is still under review.

Thank you for reading this week’s legislative column. If you have any questions regarding anything going on in the Missouri Senate, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 573-751-4106. It is an honor and privilege to represent each of you in the Missouri Senate.