Coronavirus reached into Columbia Public Schools on Saturday when the district reported that an employee of Russell Boulevard Elementary School had tested positive.

Adair County and Moniteu County recorded their first cases Saturday, as did Fort Leonard Wood. A soldier who returned from a trip to New York and Florida was in isolation and being treated for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

In Jefferson City, Gov. Mike Parson issued an order, effective just after midnight Monday morning, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and ordering all restaurants to close except for carry-out and delivery service.

Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services spokesman Lucio Bitoy said that of 15 confirmed infections in the county, one was not related to travel and instead was related to contact with an infected person.

More than 100 people in the county were under quarantine on Saturday, Bitoy wrote in an email.

The order issued Saturday by Parson will allow some churches to meet on Sunday as long as they don’t violate the current rules barring gatherings of more than 50.

The rules limiting gatherings already match or are tighter than the new regulations in Columbia and Boone County, the Kansas City area and in Greene County, where gatherings of 10 or more are banned.

St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kanas City on Saturday issued a stay-at-home order for most people. The order in St. Louis takes effect Monday.

In the Kansas City area, residents of Jackson County and Wyandotte and Johnson counties in neighboring Kansas were ordered to stay home for anything other than "essential needs." That includes child care, health care, grocery stores, pharmacies and delivery/carry-out/drive-thru services from restaurants.

Parson warned that if the number of cases continues to increase at a rapid rate, he could go further.

"Tomorrow it could change again," he said during his daily briefing for media. "It is just a moving target to what we do every day."

Boone County saw the number of infections grow to 15 on Saturday from 10 on Friday.

The most recent official numbers from the state at press time were posted Friday evening, showing 73 confirmed infections in the state, up from 28 on Thursday.

That Friday report did not include seven Boone County cases. The scattered news reports of additional cases in the state would run the number to at least 83.

A dashboard of worldwide cases maintained by Johns Hopkins University showed 74 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the state at 6 p.m.

The infections include a member of the Missouri House and two employees of the University of Missouri.

"I think it is quite evident in the last week that whether you are in the state legislature or a state employee, COVID-19 can reach out and touch any of us at any time," Parson said.

Nationally, the number of confirmed infections continued to grow rapidly, growing almost 30 percent in less than 24 hours. As of 6 p.m. Saturday, there were 24,783 known infections in the United States, with 301 deaths.

The U.S. now has the fourth-largest number of cases worldwide, behind China, Italy and Spain. Worldwide, there are now more than 303,000 infections.

"Unfortunately the daily increase in cases is to be expected during this pandemic, and the reported figures are not surprising," Dr. David McKinsey, an infectious disease specialist with the HCA Midwest Research Medical Center in Kansas City, wrote in an email. "I expect a continued substantial increase over the coming weeks."

Under the new state restrictions, all restaurants must close except to provide carry-out or delivery services. All schools in Missouri had closed by Thursday and must remain closed until at least April 6, when the rules imposed Saturday expire if not extended.

On Saturday morning, Columbia-Boone County Public Health and Human Services Director Stephanie Browning issued an order closing all bars and restaurants outside Columbia except for take-out and delivery service and limiting most other businesses to no more than 10 people, including employees.

The order also bans public and private gatherings of more than 10 people. It mirrors Columbia regulations put in place Friday evening and the rules imposed by Parson statewide.

The state order applies to "any planned or spontaneous event or meeting that would bring together more than 10 people in a single space at the same time," Parson said.

There have been three deaths in Missouri due to COVID-19, two on Friday and one on Wednesday in Columbia.

Among the confirmed infections in Boone County, there are 13 cases related to travel and one that is confirmed to have been contracted from contact with an infected person within the county.

The University of Missouri Health Care drive-thru testing site has taken samples from 515 people since opening on Thursday, spokeswoman Jesslyn Chew wrote in an email.

The only hospitalized case in Boone County is a veteran at Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital who was admitted on Wednesday. That patient is from Pulaski County.

The Missouri National Guard, to quell rumors it was preparing to support a national quarantine, on Saturday issued a statement via Facebook.

"Let us be clear there has been no such discussion!" the Guard statement read. "We are not pre-staging at Arrowhead, we are not sending tanks to downtown St. Louis."

The Guard is ready to support any call from Parson, the statement continued.

"These are challenging times we are living through today," the statement read. "But remember this, the Missouri National Guard works for the people of Missouri."

As of Friday evening, there were cases in 12 counties, with the largest numbers concentrated in the state’s largest urban areas. Kansas City and Jackson County had 17 confirmed infections, with an additional six in adjoining Cass County.

St. Louis County had 13 cases, with six in the city of St. Louis. Greene County, in southwest Missouri, had eight.

At least seven of the cases are linked to community spread within Missouri, with 44 undetermined at this time, according to the state health department.

To help people displaced from jobs by the closings and to manage the state government workload, Parson and department directors outlined several steps that the state will take:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is also commonly called Food Stamps, will provide increased benefits for March and April and an additional increase will be provided to families with children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch in school.
All drivers’ licenses and automotive registrations expiring in March and April will be automatically extended two months.
Tax returns due April 15 are now due July 15, as are estimated tax payments, mirroring the federal decision to move the tax date. The automatic extension applies to all personal, corporate, estate and trust income tax returns.

The actions on benefits includes a suspension of cut-offs, waiver of work requirements and other actions to support people.

Some public health officials in the state want Parson to force people to stay home. The Kansas City Star obtained a letter dated Friday from the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence, a group of public health departments representing half of the state's population. The letter urged the Republican governor to require that residents can only leave home for medical reasons, work or to get food.

"There’s going to be many people losing their jobs before this is over," Parson said, adding that he is trying to keep businesses open even if they have to shed workers.

"Losing employees is one thing," Parson said. "But if you lose your employees and your businesses at the same time, that has a tremendous effect on the economy of the state."

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is keeping state parks open amid the coronavirus outbreak. The department will try to limit visitors' interaction with rangers and other park staffers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported..

"Out of an abundance of caution, Missouri Department of Natural Resources announces Missouri State Parks will temporarily close visitor centers, park offices and site offices to walk-in foot traffic through April 30," the department announced.

State park workers will be on-site to answer questions and sign in campers. Signs will direct guests to restrooms and other services.

The changes went into effect Friday in a move to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Campgrounds, all day-use areas, boat ramps and trails remain open.

"We've basically limited our walk-in traffic to our indoor spaces," said Missouri State Parks Director Mike Sutherland.

The department has stopped taking reservations for picnic pavilions and group camping sites where large groups might gather. Nature programs and tours at historic sites also have been suspended.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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