Sen. Mike Cierpiot’s Guest Column for the Week of March 16, 2020

Combatting the Coronavirus

The first case of the coronavirus in Missouri was identified on March 7, 2020. Since then, several more cases have been confirmed around the state, but there’s no reason to panic. Medical professionals and other officials at the federal, state and local levels are monitoring the situation in an effort to keep our communities safe and healthy. Part of this effort included the governor declaring a state of emergency through an executive order. This action will help the state better respond to the coronavirus, by providing the state more flexibility in utilizing resources and deploying them where they are most appropriate.

As officials work to stop the spread of the coronavirus, there are steps and precautions that individual Missourians can be taking to deal with the current situation. When facing any problem, I believe education is one of the best tools. Understanding how the coronavirus is spread and its symptoms is a good first step for anyone concerned about the coronavirus.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), the coronavirus is commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands. As a result, the governor, following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, has urged the cancellation or suspension of public gatherings of 50 individuals or more, except for educational institutions, daycare facilities and business operations.

In addition, DHSS reports that symptoms of the coronavirus may appear 2-14 days after exposure and could include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses stemming from the coronavirus have ranged from a mild illness to severe pneumonia that may require hospitalization. Older adults, those with serious medical conditions or compromised immune systems and travelers to certain parts of the world are thought to be at increased risk of getting the virus. If you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have the coronavirus or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of the coronavirus, call your health care professional. If you have been notified by public health authorities that you might have been exposed, follow instructions provided by your local health department.

To help prevent the spread of the virus, DHSS is encouraging people to take the following steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick;
  • Stay home if you are sick;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands; and
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.

Learn more about the coronavirus and what you can do to keep your family safe by visiting DHSS’ website, at DHSS has also established a 24-hour hotline to help answer your questions about the coronavirus. The hotline can be reached at 877-435-8411.

Please feel free to contact my office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1464. For information about committees or sponsored legislation for the 2020 session, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at