Missouri Speaker of the House Haahr creates committee to address state's response to coronavirus

Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr speaks during a news conference after the House passed a sweeping bill to further restrict abortion Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Jefferson City, Mo. Missouri's Republican-led House has passed a bill to ban almost all abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The legislation would ban abortions except in cases of medical emergencies. The ban would kick in if the Supreme Court overturns its landmark ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion. If Roe v. Wade remains, the legislation also would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. (AP Photo/Summer Ballentine)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (edited news release) -- Speaker of the Missouri House Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, announced Thursday the creation of the Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention.

The committee will host a public forum for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to share their response to the coronavirus.

“Dr. Randall Williams has briefed my office on the state’s preventive measures and response plan to protect Missourians’ health,” Haahr said. “I believe Missourians deserve to know the steps that have been taken and the proactive approach Dr. Williams and DHSS are utilizing to combat the coronavirus in our state.”

Recently, a top federal official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. appears to be inevitable. The official’s comment comes as the pandemic continues to spread to more countries.

The Speaker appointed Dr. Jon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, to chair the committee. Dr. Patterson is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia, where he earned both his bachelors and medical degrees. After medical school, Dr. Patterson completed his surgical residency at Truman Medical Center in downtown Kansas City. He is currently a private practice general surgeon.

Speaker Haahr named the following members to the panel:
Rep. Jon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit (Chairman)
Rep. Steve Helms, R-Springfield (Vice Chair)
Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron
Rep. Tom Hannegan, R-St. Charles
Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau
Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston
Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin
Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, D-Kansas City
Rep. Yolanda Young, D-Kansas City
Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis
Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia

“I believe the more information Missourians have, the better equipped the state will be to mitigate the spread of the virus and also monitor for symptoms so a prompt response is possible," said Haahr. "With Dr. Patterson as the chair, this panel is designed to ask the questions on Missourians’ minds regarding coronavirus and for the department to assure the public that Missouri is taking preventive measures and is ready to respond if needed.”

The committee will hold its meeting with Dr. Williams, director of DHSS, on Monday, March 2nd at 1:30 p.m. in House Hearing Room 5.