This article contains information provided by Kelli R. Jones, Communications Director for Governor Mike Parson.

During today’s COVID-19 briefing, Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of a new COVID-19 dashboard containing Missouri-specific data from across the state.

“Throughout COVID-19, we have worked very hard to be transparent and provide Missourians with the most accurate, up-to-date information as possible, and the same goes for this dashboard,” Governor Parson said. “We want Missourians to have access to the data and information we’re using to make decisions as we work through the recovery process.”

The interactive dashboard includes data previously released and updated regularly, including cumulative COVID-19 case and death counts, cases and deaths by county, and demographics such as age and gender. It also includes comprehensive data such as the percent change in case totals at the state and county levels as well as more detailed information on testing and hospitalizations. The dashboard will automatically update as new data becomes available.

“The dashboard is a great representation of the trends we’ve been seeing across the state driving our decision to reopen, and I encourage the public to use this to stay informed and up-to-date on the situation in Missouri,” Governor Parson said.

Governor Parson was also joined in today’s briefing by Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Mark Stringer and Adjutant General of the Missouri National Guard Brigadier General Levon Cumpton.

The National Guard has played a key role throughout the state’s COVID-19 response and will continue to do so throughout the recovery process.

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) has also taken several steps to assist Missourians throughout the COVID-19 crisis. DMH’s Office of Disaster Services has developed a Behavioral Health Strike Team that can quickly deploy specially trained individuals from its community mental health centers and disaster team to work with an impacted region after a local emergency occurs.

This concept was piloted during the Branson Duck Boat tragedy, but the outbreak of COVID-19 prompted DMH to fully activate and deploy this team for the first time.

Strike team members worked in conjunction with the air and army guard to assist families, individuals, and deployed service members in the St. Louis area through crisis counseling, which involves teaching coping skills, managing stress, recognizing common reactions after a disaster, and often just providing a listening ear. The deployment has been a success, and the team is standing by to provide further assistance.

DMH has also applied for a Crisis Counseling Program Grant. The Federal Emergency Management Agency funds and oversees the Crisis Counseling Program to provide mental health support and training in presidentially declared major disaster areas.

Additionally, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. DMH encourages Missourians to take care of their mental and emotional health at all times, but especially amid the stress and uncertainty of  COVID-19.

For Missourians struggling to cope with the pandemic, the federal Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) is an important resource. The DMH website also has a list of resources to help individuals and families cope with the strains of COVID-19.

In addition to today’s COVID-19 updates, Governor Parson announced that O’Neal Steel has selected St. Joseph, Missouri, as the location for a new metal distribution center. The new 64,000 square-foot facility will begin operations on June 1.

“O’Neal Steel is part of the United States’ largest family-owned network of metal service centers, and we are proud it has chosen St. Joseph as the location of its next distribution center,” Governor Parson said. “This announcement shows that even in the midst of COVID-19, there are still good things happening, and Missouri is still a top location for businesses.”

While the St. Joseph warehouse will initially serve one large strategic partner in the area, O’Neal Steel plans to offer wholesale metal distribution, along with select processing capabilities, throughout the market in the very near future. The new facility will initially employ up to eight employees and anticipates growth over the next 24 months.

More From AM 1050 KSIS