Hundreds gather at state capitol to protest stay-at-home order
JEFFERSON CITY - Hundreds of protesters gathered at the state capitol Tuesday afternoon to call on Governor Mike Parson to reopen the state's economy.
Parson said he is planning to gradually reopen the state in phases after his statewide stay-at-home order expires on May 4.
"There are a lot of counties all over Missouri that don't even have a case, why are they not open?" Dean Foucher, who came from Wentzville for today's protest, asked. "We are seeing decreased occurrences and the curve is flattened. It is time to move on."
Foucher said he understands if every part of the state is not able to reopen right away, but the Governor needs to start moving.
Parson has said the reopening will be gradual and certain areas of the state will likely open before others.
"There'll be some set of guidelines, set of rules that we'll follow," Parson said last week. "We plan on the next week or two - with the help of a lot of people around the state: the local officials, the business people and employers, employees - a lot of people have input into that and how we move forward and what those guidelines will look like."
Foucher said people who are at a higher risk of being hospitalized should continue to stay home, while younger people should be allowed to return to work. He said he thinks younger people are at a lower risk of getting the virus and being hospitalized for it.
About 44% of positive cases in Missouri have occurred in people who are younger than 50 years old.
Asked about concerns raised by local, state, and national health officials about a possible second wave of the COVID-19 virus, Foucher said that should not stop young people from being able to go back to work.
Other protestors, like Samantha Smith, agreed that the state should be reopened to help the economy.
"I think we need to take precautions, but I think we need to open back up our state so our businesses can continue," Smith said. "We will continue to be safe, we will continue to keep the vulnerable at home and keep those that are sick at home, but the well need to go back to work to keep our economy and freedom."
By keeping the young and healthy home, Smith said the state is putting small businesses in a position they can never recover from.
"It is causing more economic suicide than helping," Smith said. "I am a single mom of two kids and a lot of people are not going to be able to find ways to provide for their family and that is going to be more detrimental."
Protesters honked car horns and chanted USA while standing outside the capitol.
On Monday, Parson said protesters would have to maintain proper social distancing, but protesters were certainly not obeying that rule. Many were also not wearing masks.
There was no enforcement at the protest on Tuesday afternoon to make sure people practiced social distancing.