Many residents already complying with local order

When Gov. Mike Parson officially issued the Stay-At-Home Order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, on Friday,  it wasn’t an unexpected event for most people in the state, much less Lincoln County, though the timing did take the county’s health department slighly off-guard.

COVID-19 STATE STAY AT HOME ORDER

“(The Stay-At-Home Order) wasn’t a surprise, but we were not aware it was going to happen that day,” said Sarah Valenza, public information officer.

The order, which took effect on Monday and will remain in effect through April 24, directs all Missourians to avoid leaving their residences, unless necessary, and to practice social distancing when they need to travel outside their homes to work, access foods, prescriptions, health care and other necessities, or to engage in an outdoor activity. The order does not require all businesses statewide to close or cease operation.

“First and foremost, I want everyone to know that I love this state and the people of this state,” Parson said. “The people of this great state clearly define who we are in Missouri, and as governor, I have no greater responsibility than to protect the health, well-being, and safety of all Missourians.”

Valenza said precautions were already in effect prior to Parson’s proclamation, and county residents were doing their part.

“We were prepared,” she said. “We had a stay-at-home order in place, and our residents were complying.”

Parson has left the enforcement of the the Stay-At-Home Order to the counties. Local public health and law enforcement authorities have directed to carry out and enforce the provisions of the order by any legal means.

“There comes a time when we have to make major sacrifices in our lives. Many of us make sacrifices each and every day, but now more than ever, we must all make sacrifices,” Parson said. “This is not about any one individual person. This is about our families, friends, neighbors, and the entire state of Missouri. For the sake of all Missourians, be smart, be responsible, and stay home, Missourians.”

Locally, the order will be enforced at several levels.

“The governor is right to leave the responsibility of the counties to enforce his order, but there are many different aspects of what makes county government,” said Lieutenant Andy Binder, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department public information officer. “As of today, complaints of gatherings of 10 or more people are investigated by the Lincoln County Health Department. 

“If there is a violation of the local or state order, the LCHD can request that the county attorney send the individual a cease and desist letter. If the individual(s) continues to violate the order, the LCHD may seek a judge’s order to restrict the individual’s movement and/or gathering.”

The Sheriff’s Office has reported several violations of the order. However, Valenza doesn’t believe it will ever get to the point of any restrictions because the people of Lincoln County are resilient and want to protect themselves.

“Most people want to do the right thing and protect themselves and their neighbors (from COVID-19),” she said. “It just makes it easier for us to do our jobs.

“Everybody wants to do the right things. It’s a difficult time for everybody.”

The LCHD meets with the Sheriff’s Office, the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency and other county and state agencies for a daily briefing about the COVID-19 situation at 1:45 p.m. via conference call.