This past week, we saw our first deaths in Missouri due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. While this has been a trying time for all of us, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones who have endured such terrible losses. It’s a somber reminder to all of us that as this virus continues to spread, we all need to do our part to stop it.
While this virus attacks the elderly and those with compromised immune systems to a greater degree, any age is susceptible to getting sick and can spread it. It’s likely that all of us have a family member or loved one who could be at serious risk if they catch COVID-19. That’s why now, more than ever, social distancing is critical. If you don’t have to be out and about, stay home. Every school in the state of Missouri is now closed and Governor Mike Parson announced that gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. While all of these measures are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19, it’s also been devastating for many small businesses.
Earlier this week, Governor Parson requested assistance for Missouri business owners through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The program offers targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans for Missouri small businesses that have been severely impacted by coronavirus disruptions. Along with the entire Missouri congressional delegation, I sent a letter to the SBA urging quick approval of the Governor’s request and I’m grateful that the request was approved on Saturday. If you are a small business owner and need to apply for a loan, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/.
We’ve already seen examples of folks making a concerted effort to patronize small businesses in whatever way they can, whether by ordering take out or buying gift cards for later use. These are great ways to shop local and help out these Mom and Pop operations that will undoubtedly struggle through this—as long as you continue to social distance in the process.
Obviously, those out of work are hurting as well. The bill that we passed last week, which President Trump signed into law, will give our workers the opportunity to use paid sick leave if they have to quarantine themselves due to a COVID-19 infection or need to care for a family member who is ill with the virus. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides temporary federal coverage for paid sick and family leave to all employers with fewer than 500 employees. This coverage is provided using a tax credit for employers, so they aren’t shouldering the burden of paid leave either.
The bill also provides additional assistance to states so those out of work due to COVID-19 don’t face unnecessary delay in getting unemployment claims processed or receiving payments. Congress continues to look at additional ways we can help Americans get through this unprecedented time in our nation’s history.
The number one priority continues to be slowing the spread of this virus. Please take the recommended precautions, for yourself and for others. If you are experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus—fever, shortness of breath and coughing—please contact your doctor so they can make a determination as to what you need to do next.
This is unlike anything we’ve ever encountered. As COVID-19 progresses in our state, I continue to work with constituents to help them through anything they are encountering. If there is anything I can assist with or questions I can answer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.