Missouri Legislature considers $1.2B for virus response

SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press
FILE - In this April 16, 2020 file photo, registered medical assistant Elaine Lomax handles a nasal swab specimen after it was collected at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in St. Louis. With the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization rising at alarming levels, Missouri and perhaps at least a handful of other states are unable to post accurate data on COVID-19 dashboards because of a flaw in the federal reporting system.

COLUMBIA — Missouri lawmakers returned to work Thursday to debate spending more than $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus aid. 

Republican Gov. Mike Parson called lawmakers back to the Capitol to give his administration the authority to spend the federal funding. 

Some of the money at stake includes a $135 million federal grant for testing, contact tracing, lab equipment and data collection. The money can't be spent without lawmaker approval. 

Parson also asked lawmakers to set aside some state taxpayer dollars, including $10 million to help continue funding the Missouri National Guard's work conducting COVID-19 testing. 

In total, Parson is asking lawmakers to budget another more than $1.2 billion.