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More Restrictions Eased as 1 Million Missourians Vaccinated

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FILE – In this file photo dated March 16, 2020, a patient at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research gets an inclusion in the first clinical safety study of a potential vaccine against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus institute in Seattle. A coronavirus vaccine is still months or years away, but groups spreading misinformation about vaccination are already targeting – and potentially undermining confidence – in humankind’s best chance of defeating the virus. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) – A year after Missouri confirmed its first COVID-19 infection, local governments further eased restrictions on coronavirus on Monday as the number of cases in the state fell and vaccination efforts increased.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the state’s first case on March 7, 2020 – a St. Louis County woman who recently returned from studying in Italy.

“Since COVID-19 hit Missouri a year ago, we have worked uninterruptedly to take a balanced approach to fighting the virus and keeping Missourians as safe as possible,” Parson said in a statement Monday. “A tremendous amount of work has been done in the past 12 months, and I couldn’t be more proud of Missourians for their efforts.”

Page announced on Monday that several health orders caused by COVID-19 will be relaxed with immediate effect. This includes increasing the public gathering limits from 10 to 20 people and allowing companies to stay open until midnight.

Also on Monday, the Cape Girardeau County Commission unanimously voted to revoke the county’s mask mandate with immediate effect and replace it with a statement that masks are “strongly recommended” to help control the spread of COVID-19. Businesses and churches can still ask for masks.

Those steps come when the Missouri Department of Health reported that more than 1 million citizens received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. The department said 1,008,824 started the vaccination process, roughly 16.4% of the state’s population. Of these, 530,264 have completed the vaccination process.

“Our team has worked diligently for months to make sure we are ready to implement our vaccination schedule. Since then, in less than three months we have initiated vaccinations for over a million Missourians with an extremely limited supply,” said Parson. “This has been an incredible collaboration and I would like to thank all agencies and partners involved for their hard work and dedication.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people continue to wear masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when in public.

Parson released a long statement detailing his government’s response to the pandemic.

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Robert Dunfee