An online petition encouraging support for the director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Human Services had gathered more than 1,500 signatures by Wednesday morning.

The petition, posted by COMO Speaks, says Stephanie Browning’s directives and guidelines during the COVID-19 outbreak have helped prevent the virus from becoming more widespread in the city and county.

As of Wednesday morning, there had been 100 confirmed positive cases of the virus in Boone County. Five of those cases remained active, according to the city.

“Despite attempted partisan political power grabs and misogynistic attacks on Director Browning, we appreciate the good work from our health department, city council and county commission,” the petition reads. “Stepping up and listening to Director Browning’s solid recommendations means our city and county is being protected.”

The new petition comes as Browning faces a lawsuit filed by attorney Matt Woods on behalf of Tiger Tots Child Development Center owner Paul Prevo. Prevo is part of a coalition of business owners who have protested Browning’s orders as too restrictive and have asked that Columbia and Boone County businesses be allowed to operate under the less restrictive guidelines in the statewide order issued by Gov. Mike Parson.

Division 1 Circuit Judge Brouck Jacobs has been assigned to that case and has scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. Friday on Woods’ request for a temporary restraining order that would block enforcement of Browning’s orders.

A separate online petition calling for Browning to be fired had gathered 96 signatures by Wednesday morning and had a stated goal of 100. It was posted May 1.

“Stephanie Browning has taken away our fundamental rights as citizens with the unreasonable restrictions over COVID-19,” the petition states. “Recent data shows the death rate for this virus to be less than 1%, and Sweden has shown, by remaining open, that herd immunity is the best defense.”

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • I've been a reporter and editor at Missouri community newspapers for 35 years and joined the Columbia Missourian in 2003. My emphasis at the Missourian is on local government and elections. You can reach me at swaffords@missouri.edu or at 573-884-5366.

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