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On Monday, the first phase of the "Show Me Strong Recovery Plan" expired. The next day, our state reopened with statewide COVID-19 restrictions being fully lifted. Businesses are opening back up, and people are getting back to work.

Although restrictions are lifted, it's still recommended to follow procedures that were put in place to fight the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and hygiene procedures. It's still a good idea to avoid large crowds and take precautionary measures to protect against the spread of the virus.

The response from our health care and sanitation workers has been amazing. Doctors, nurses, EMTs and cleaning crews, just to name a few, worked tirelessly to fight the coronavirus as it became a pandemic. Their efforts were instrumental in helping us beat back the spread of the disease and flatten the curve of new infections. As a result, hospitalizations have fallen 43 percent statewide since the first of May. We are all in their debt.

But the pandemic isn't over. Missouri continues its efforts to fight the spread of the virus and has increased the availability of resources to combat the coronavirus. We have increased our testing capacity by more than 220 percent and currently perform around 10,000 tests every day. Last week, the state received a record shipment of personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, and the Missouri PPE marketplace has connected hospitals and medical facilities with Missouri suppliers. These efforts are ensuring Missourians continue to receive the finest medical care possible. The Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard is available online, and it provides a comprehensive look at the status of coronavirus cases and our efforts to stop it.

As we've worked to stop the spread of the coronavirus, it's taken an undeniable toll on our economy. The restrictions resulted in a surge of unemployment and frightening uncertainty for small businesses. The federal CARES Act provided relief for the unemployed, easing requirements and providing more money to people that found themselves laid off or unable to find a job due to the shutdown. The legislation also provided assistance to small businesses, to help them weather the severe economic impact of the coronavirus.

The Missouri Legislature passed several measures I hope will be instrumental in bringing the economy back. A bill I sponsored in the Senate, House Bill 2046, contained provisions to help those looking to get back to work. The bill allows for license reciprocity for licensed professionals and contains the "Expanded Workforce Act of 2020," which allows for federally approved apprenticeship programs that will help people work toward stable, good paying jobs.

With restrictions lifted, things will hopefully start returning to a semblance of normalcy. Unemployment search requirements are set to go back into effect next month. The U.S. gained 2.5 million jobs in May, surprising experts. Things may never be exactly as they were before this all happened, but we are going to endure.

State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 6th Senate District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.

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