Sandra Bell, administrator of the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department, and Felix Meyer, the county’s emergency management director, met with Ste. Genevieve County Commission last Thursday in continuing discussions on the COVID-19 pandemic.
District 116 State Representative Dale Wright also participated in the discussion, by phone.
Bell said she would prefer a mandatory stay at home order, backed up by law enforcement.
“I have a lot of questions why Missouri is not shut down,” Bell said to Wright.
Governor Mike Parson had been hesitant to lock the state down, preferring to leave such decisions to local officials, but on Friday he issued a statewide stay at home order effective Monday, April 6, through Friday, April 24.
Ste. Genevieve County Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said Thursday, prior to the governor’s action, that he did not believe county commissions had the authority to issue stay at home orders. Nelson said Ivan Shraeder, the attorney employed by the county, shares the view that prosecuting those who did not shelter in place could open the county up to lawsuits.
“The governor’s office really likes the local control,” Wright said. “But, Garry, as you and I have talked, we’re not sure about the authority of that.”
“I know the authority of it,” Nelson said. “Actually, some of these states where the governors are putting it down, the attorneys are even challenging the governors’ authority to make that decision.”
“The governor kind of agrees with you, Garry, on that one,” Wright said.
Nelson said he believed the county’s voluntary shutdown was working effectively.
“Here’s the thing, we’ve got a suggestion, recommending everybody stays home,” Nelson said. “Three counties around us have an order for everybody to stay home. Our recommendation has just as much power and authority as what those orders do. Those are unenforceable orders.”
See complete story in the April 8 edition of the Herald.