Working to Stop the Spread
The events of the past month regarding the spread of the virus known as COVID-19 have been shocking to say the least. From the news stories, the frantic rushes to the grocery store and the shutdown of our schools and churches, these are certainly trying times for all of us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been positive COVID-19 cases in every state in our country. As government leaders and health care professionals continue to work to stop this pandemic, I urge you to follow the CDC’s recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC recommends taking several measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
- If soap and water is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community;
- Stay home if you are sick; and
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
If you have a fever, a cough and experience difficulty breathing, please immediately call your health care professional and follow their instructions. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), more than 80 percent of those infected will recover after mild symptoms. To stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 virus and its effect on our state and our country, I recommend checking DHSS’ website at health.mo.gov and following the CDC’s website at cdc.gov for more information.
In addition, DHSS recently announced it was placing visiting restrictions on our state’s residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. At the moment, facilities are required to restrict visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for compassionate care situations, until further notice. While these are certainly drastic measures, I believe they are certainly warranted, given the dangers COVID-19 presents to our state’s elderly population.
I believe these trying times are also placing a heavy burden on our state’s small businesses. While many of us hunker down and practice social distancing, some of our state’s small businesses and their employees are struggling and facing economic hardships. As a result, the governor has directed the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency and the Missouri Department of Economic Development to seek assistance for Missouri businesses through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Through the program, businesses can access up to $2 million in low-interest loans to use toward fixed debt payments, payroll, accounts payable and other expenses that cannot be paid due to the impact of COVID-19. As we continue to navigate this difficult situation, I believe this loan program will play an important role in keeping our state’s small businesses open for business.
Here at the State Capitol, the Missouri Senate has been physically closed since Thursday, March 12, in order to help prevent the possible spread of the virus. Despite being away from the State Capitol, my staff and other Senate staff are still able to work remotely to ensure services are still provided to the residents of the 10th Senatorial District.
As I have said before, these are trying times for all of us. As a nation, a state and a community, we must come together and look out for one another. If you haven’t heard from a neighbor or a family member in some time, please reach out to them and make sure they are okay. When you visit stores to buy groceries, please consider picking up essentials for your elderly family, friends or neighbors who are at a greater risk when they go to public places. By working together and doing our part, we can stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
It is an honor to be your state senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.