Gov. Mike Parson ended Missouri's state of emergency Friday and declared a new state of emergency to support the state's health care system.
Parson terminated Executive Order 20-02, which was responsible for Missouri's state of emergency since March 13, 2020.
The executive order allowed the state to waive regulations and statutory requirements in an effort to expedite responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In the nearly 18 months we operated under this executive order, we have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by providing unprecedented levels of resources and support," Parson said in a news release. "This order enabled us to respond to the unknown and ever changing needs of our state. Now, we know how to fight this virus and have a solution to ending the pandemic with the vaccine."
Parson said conditions around the state no longer require an expansive emergency declaration.
At the same time, the governor issued Executive Order 21-09, a targeted state of emergency that will continue to address the state's health care needs.
In addition to the stress of steady COVID-19 hospitalizations from the highly contagious delta variant, Missouri's health care system is experiencing staffing shortages.
Under Executive Order 21-09, Parson retains the emergency powers he had under the previous executive order. Executive Order 21-09 also preserves provisions for remote notary services, telehealth and the ability of state agencies to request waivers for COVID-19 responses.
The measure drew praise from Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association.
"The Missouri Hospital Association and its members deeply appreciate Gov. Parson's decision to extend the state's emergency declaration and health care-related regulatory waivers," Kuhn said in a news release Friday. "The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges for hospitals and the state's health care system, and the regulatory flexibilities granted to date have allowed health care providers to respond quickly and efficiently. By extending the declaration and waivers, the governor is granting the health care community the necessary tools to manage the Delta variant surge and future pandemic-related threats."
Waivers still in effect as of Friday will remain in place under the new executive order, but any new waivers, subject to approval by the governor's office, will need to support the state's health care system and COVID-19 response.
The state has reduced the number of waivers in effect - from a peak of 600 to 163 still in place - as part of the transition away from the previous state of emergency.
Many of the waivers that have carried over were implemented by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and are necessary to support the health care system, offer flexibility and remain compliant with the federal government.
"We have always taken a balanced approach in our response to COVID-19, and this new order demonstrates the progress we have made in fighting this virus," Parson said. "Like all Missourians, we want this crisis to end and to close this chapter. However, while we are shifting our operations, we must maintain flexibility to aid our health care system and adapt to the challenges we face."
The new executive order will terminate at the end of the year.