Nicole On The Issues
Rebuild and Recover: An Action Plan to Address COVID-19 in Missouri
All Missourians have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has taken a major toll on our rural and urban communities, revealing countless economic, racial and public health disparities. While the end is finally in sight, work remains. Missouri must emerge from this crisis better prepared to weather the next public health crisis.
Auditor Galloway has put forward an action plan to ensure that the state can recover and rebuild from this virus. Urgency is needed to address this pandemic and put the state on the path to economic recovery.
In order to achieve a full recovery, Missouri must support our healthcare infrastructure and rapidly increase the tempo of vaccinations. Federal aid must be deployed efficiently to ensure that government and our healthcare professionals can address the health and economic needs of all Missourians.
Galloway’s plan was developed through conversations and discussions with local leaders, public health experts, medical professionals, business and labor leaders. Auditor Galloway has also visited organizations across the state like Care STL Health in St. Louis who are on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic and providing testing and care to their communities.
- CARES ACT FUNDING: In the Spring of 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act which provides billions of dollars in funding to the State of Missouri to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. As taxpayers’ independent watchdog, Galloway’s office is reviewing the unprecedented amount of federal money to ensure it is spent effectively, efficiently and quickly in order to address the economic and health crisis.
- TRANSPARENCY: Taxpayers deserve to know how the State of Missouri is spending billions in federal aid. The Auditor’s office has developed an online tool so taxpayers can see federal dollars received and how the funds are being spent.
Protecting Public Health
- ENSURE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO COVID VACCINATIONS. Missouri is near the bottom in state rankings for COVID vaccinations. We should be leading the way. This means that distribution of doses should be equitable and designed to generate the most benefit for the state. Until Missouri gets a handle on widespread vaccination we’ll never get our economy fully reopened.
- MASK MANDATE: Missouri should follow the advice of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, public health experts and medical professionals by implementing a statewide mask rule.
- REOPENING SCHOOLS: A data-driven approach for safely reopening schools that recognizes the risk that community transmission poses to keeping fully in-person school on track. Missouri should have clear guidelines to help local decision makers offer fully in-person school, with clear requirements for how to ensure safety of students and staff.
- SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS: Local community health centers have regularly served on the front lines of Missouri’s public health, particularly for uninsured and underinsured communities. But COVID-19 has exponentially increased their workload and forced many health centers in rural and urban communities to be stretched to their capacity. Community health centers in counties hardest hit by COVID-19 must have the adequate resources to combat the pandemic, distribute vaccines and provide service to those who need it the most.
- EXPAND MEDICAID: Not only is Medicaid Expansion good for public health, it’s good for the state’s fiscal bottom line as our state and local governments continue to struggle with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Nothing could be more important than expanding healthcare in the midst of a public health emergency.
Ensuring Missouri’s Communities And Local Governments Can Rebuild
- STATE-LEVEL ENGAGEMENT TO HELP COUNTIES SPEND THEIR CARES ACT MONEY: Nicole is a leading voice for a state-level team to assist counties in deploying CARES Act money. Utilization of these resources was slowed because of bureaucracy, and Jefferson City needs to do more to ensure communities can use this aid on critical needs like vaccinations, contact tracing and PPE.
- EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDING FOR COUNTY GOVERNMENTS: Even before the pandemic hit, the state owed county governments more than $35 million in reimbursements for costs associated with housing and transporting state prisoners in county jails. Galloway has called for the state to reimburse county governments for the cost of transporting and holding state prisoners.
Rebuilding Missouri’s Economy
- STAND UP FOR MISSOURI: Immediate action is needed to provide aid to local governments in order to fund economic recovery, school reopenings and to ensure small businesses are able to survive through this economic crisis.
- RELIEF FOR WORKERS: Federal aid for Missouri workers harmed by the health crisis strengthens our economic recovery. Current and future programs must be implemented with accountability and transparency. State agencies have a responsibility to be responsive to taxpayers. Long wait times, unanswered questions, and a lack of urgency aren’t acceptable any time, but especially during times of crisis. Workers should not be held financially accountable for mistakes made by the state.
- SUSTAINING BLACK SMALL BUSINESSES: Missouri cannot ignore the alarming number of Black-owned small businesses that will not survive COVID-19 due to community wealth gaps and limited access to markets. The Department of Economic Development should include a department of Minority Business that will be charged with ensuring vulnerable small businesses in Black and Brown communities are able to withstand future economic uncertainties.