1,000 signatures reached
To: Governor Michael L Parson
Request to Missouri Governor Michael Parson to Implement Shelter in Place Immediately
Dear Governor Parson,
The undersigned faith leaders and lay people from across Missouri urge Governor Parsons to issue an immediate shelter in place plan and to enact the other demands in this letter for the welfare of the people. While we are different in our expressions of faith, our various sacred texts and faith principles demand us to take care of the sick, and protect, advocate for and provide for all of GOD’s children, especially the vulnerable. Given the rapid advance of the COVID-19 virus in the United States and in Missouri, we must act now to protect the health of those with preexisting conditions, compromised immune systems, our children, elderly, uninsured, incarcerated, immigrants and the unsheltered.
The COVID-19 crisis amplifies the inequities that exist in all of our systems. We urge you and the State Legislators to do the following:
Put a statewide strict shelter in place plan in effect immediately.
Provide paid sick and family leave to all workers with no exceptions.
Expand Medicaid to give healthcare access to over 230,000 low-income Missourians at risk of dying.
Provide free testing for COVID-19 for the under and uninsured and waive Medicaid copays.
Secure additional COVID-19 tests for the state.
Ensure that medical professionals have the necessary PPE to assist in protecting themselves.
Provide testing in low income, African American, other communities of Color and immigrant neighborhoods.
Not only is our health and welfare at risk but our democracy is at risk. We are grateful that municipal elections have been pushed back to June, but we believe this is inadequate without providing additional access to democracy during this time of uncertainty. We join the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition in urging the following:
Expansion of absentee voting by mail, including adoption of no-excuse absentee voting, elimination of the notary requirement for absentee ballots, and multiple options for requesting and returning of absentee ballots. At minimum, current absentee voting due to incapacity or illness should explicitly include those practicing social distancing or self-quarantine as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Expansion of options for in-person absentee and early voting, allowing more citizens to vote over time rather than in a cluster on Election Day.
Expansion of voter registration options to include online options.
Polling place modifications to ensure public safety and to protect accessibility for voting populations that have traditionally faced barriers to the ballot.
Robust voter education campaigns funded by the State.
We join the 270 faith and community leaders in Southwest Missouri in demanding a Statewide plan for the unhoused. They are amongst the most vulnerable for illness and death. Protect our unhoused siblings by:
Ordering municipal officials to identify and authorize locations throughout the state to be used to provide self quarantine facilities for the unhoused.
Ensure emergency shelters continue to operate 24 hours a day.
Ensure shelters have a standard for cleanliness and that residents of shelters and self quarantine spaces have adequate access to showers, sanitizing products, restrooms and food.
Finally, the incarcerated are at a greater risk because of crowded conditions, and immigrants are at risk as some without documentation may not seek medical care. Governor, we are asking you to work with local prosecutors and judges to:
Release non violent offenders
Release ICE detainees
Provide PPE to inmate workers, law enforcement and correctional facility personnel.
Do not allow ICE to pick up people near health facilities, grocery stores or pharmacies.
With the state motto, "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law,” as a profound reminder, it is a great opportunity to put the welfare of Missourians over profits and partisanship by protecting the health and welfare of the most vulnerable. Governor, we are urging you to demonstrate the seriousness of this deadly virus by taking action to preserve the health and welfare of the people of Missouri.
There is a scripture in the New Testament of the Christian Bible found in Matthew 25: 35-40: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Help us to ensure that we can all ensure that the “least of these” are protected during this time of pandemic.
Why is this important?
According to data collected by John Hopkins University and reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, this weekend Missouri led the country with a 600% increase in the number of cases reported. As of Sunday at 3:00 p.m. according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 903 Cases of COVID-19, including 12 deaths. As faith leaders we are concerned about the most vulnerable Missourians who were at risk long before COVID-19 became a part of our lexicon. These neighbors include the under and uninsured including 83,000 uninsured children, our unhoused siblings, financially insecure, immune compromised, poor, disabled, incarcerated and immigrant Missourians.
The U.S. Census reported that the number of uninsured Missourians grew in 2018 to approximately 564,000 with close to 100,000 children being uninsured. As you are aware, Missouri legislators have refused to expand Medicaid putting more Missourians at risk. The rapid spread of COVID-19, the inaccessibility of testing to all Missourians and the lack of treatment available forces uninsured and low income Missourians to be at risk for needing life-saving health care they cannot afford or premature death. These conditions overlay one health crisis on top of another.
Next week marks the beginning of “Holy Week.” Christians across the world and in Missouri will observe Good Friday. In the words of Rev. Dr. Robert Hill, “Easter weekend should not lead to additional crucifixions, one Good Friday is enough.” That week also is the beginning of Passover, Rabbi Doug Alpert reminds us, “There is no greater value in Judaism than Pekuach Nefesh-the sanctity of human life.” Help us to preserve human life and decrease the opportunity for additional deaths. We are concerned that many of our neighbors, congregants and even family members will not be passed over by COVID-19 because you have refused to issue a clear order to shelter in place.
Across the state some local mayors and county officials have rightfully issued shelter in place orders but the lack of a statewide shelter in place order has caused confusion and given some the erroneous implication that this pandemic is not dangerous. We need clear leadership from the highest office in the state to ensure that faith communities and families don’t misinterpret the lack of a shelter in place order for the state of Missouri, as a license to proceed with worship and other gatherings during these highly regarded religious holidays. This would lead to more illness and death. In doing so people of faith across Missouri could proclaim our faith and hope as people using all of our God-given resources to enhance life and a shared and fruitful future.
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