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Missouri reopens for business amid the pandemic

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson has reopened Missouri, but some state buildings will remain closed to the public to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Parson said in a Tuesday Twitter post that Missouri moved into “phase 2” of his recovery plan after the state’s social distancing order expired on Monday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The Governor’s Mansion and the state Capitol are still not allowing tours as of Tuesday. The Governor Office Building, which houses some state offices, was closed to the public on Tuesday, according to signs posted at the building’s entrances.

“We continue to be hopeful for the future,” Parson said at a Tuesday news briefing. “But again, we have to remember that COVID-19 is still out there. Even though Missouri’s now open, it is still highly encouraged to practice social distancing.”

The number of deaths in Missouri from the coronavirus jumped by 27 Wednesday, topping 900.

(Editor’s Note: Deaths in Taney County as of June 17 stand at 2)

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 208 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 16,625, and the number of deaths rose to 909 from 882. The data can lag, depending on when local health departments report deaths, but the increase was still among the largest since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Chris Moreland, spokesman for the state Office of Administration, said 31% of the state’s workforce was working remotely. “For the time being, we will continue to encourage working remotely if possible as we have been,” he added.

In the attorney general’s office, staff are returning to work on a “staggered basis, with half of the staff coming in one week and the rest of the staff the next week,” said Chris Nuelle, spokesman for Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Visitation at the Department of Corrections will be suspended past Father’s Day weekend, according to a letter sent to inmate family and friends on Monday.

“However, we are finalizing plans to begin implementing new visiting procedures in Missouri state prisons in the coming weeks,” the letter said. “Visiting start dates will vary from prison to prison.”

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