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Opinion: Missouri should be next to issue stay-at-home statewide

Eyes & Ears

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Imagine you’re at the grocery store and you’ve placed all the needed items in your cart. You stroll toward the checkout aisle and notice floor markers directing you to stop. It’s an unusual distance, at least 6 feet from the shopper in front of you who’s stopped at their own colorful sticker on the floor. Looking farther, they’re a good 6 feet from the person ahead of them paying the cashier.

Now, you notice something between the customer and the cashier. It’s plexiglass.

This is the new normal. For now. The coronavirus normal.

That shopping scene is an account from consumers in Illinois. Our neighbors to the east have moved past the now-familiar posted signs telling shoppers to “please limit your purchase to quantities of two.”

Not fully in Missouri. But it sure seems to be arriving next at businesses near us.

The question is when.

Granted, confirmed COVID-19 cases are dramatically higher in Illinois – and California, Michigan and New Jersey. Those states are among the highest nationwide, each reporting 6,000 or more confirmed cases to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York is well ahead of all states with a staggering 74,000 confirmed cases, as of April 1.

In Missouri, confirmed cases topped 1,000 at the end of March, according to the CDC.

Hence the plexiglass partitions designed to protect cashiers from the virus-containing droplets during their work shifts. I’m told MaMa Jean’s Natural Foods Market already has installed them locally.

This is a good example of businesses leading the way to protect their workforces. Governors have led the way in at least 38 states, as of deadline, by issuing statewide orders for the public to stay at home except for the necessities of food, health care, fresh air and some jobs.

Not in Missouri.

According to New York Times reporting as of April 1, the Show-Me State and seven others were without a statewide directive but had jurisdictions within them issuing such orders.

Groups in Missouri are getting antsy as the numbers continue to climb. CDC officials said April 1 the nation had 3,603 deaths from COVID-19 – more than the number of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. Among those urging Gov. Mike Parson to set statewide restrictions are the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Greene County Democrats.

Parson has been saying all the right things in his daily press briefings – on economic recovery, identifying alternative care sites and closing some state parks. But the statewide mandate has been missing, at least through April 1.

Comparing data from the CDC and the Times, 1,000 confirmed cases seems to be a trigger for these governors. States slightly above 1,000 cases that have called the stay-at-home orders are Arizona, 1,289 cases; North Carolina, 1,584; Virginia, 1,484; and Wisconsin, 1,351, as of April 1.

But not in all cases: Texas, with its 3,266 confirmed cases, has yet to issue one. The governor has left it up to local officials, and that is covering millions of people. But everyone should be covered.

Missouri should be next to order a stay-at-home edict. Our state had 1,327 confirmed cases by the CDC as of April 1.

Two more state joined the stay-at-home ranks that day: Nevada and its 1,113 confirmed cases, as well as Tennessee, 2,239 cases.

This highly contagious virus is reshaping the way we do life – right now, whether we like it or not. We’re all making changes in business to accommodate and push through. Let’s do the same as a state and protect all kinds of people and interests.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.

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