Michele Skalicky | KBIA

Michele Skalicky

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. Michele enjoys hiking, camping, taking an active role in her two girls’ activities and caring for her family’s two guinea pigs, two cats, two dogs and five fish.

The Taney County Health Department says two more Taney County residents have died of COVID-19. One of the deaths is associated with a Taney County nursing home. 

The total COVID-19 death count for Taney County is 11 as of August 12.

One of these two recent deaths is associated with a Taney County nursing home.  The TCHD continues to work with local nursing home facilities and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, according to a news release.

The director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Clay Goddard, said Thursday the county is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.  At least 42 cases are associated with the Greene County Jail and long-term care facilities.  As of Thursday morning, there were 1813 total cases of COVID-19 in Greene County, and 802 of those were active.  Sixteen people have died of the illness.  Sixty-six people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 14 of them are in the ICU.

But he said that doesn’t mean the mask ordinance in Springfield isn’t working. 

Master Gardener classes will start soon for the fall semester, and many of them will be online.

"The motto of the Master Gardener program is helping others learn to grow," said David Trinklein,  Missouri Master Gardener program coordinator for University Extension.

The Master Gardener program started in the 1970s when there was what Trinklein calls "a tremendous interest in gardening."  Oregon State University’s Extension employees were overwhelmed with requests for gardening information.

There were 95 new cases of COVID-19 reported to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department Tuesday.  That's a new one-day record, according to the health department.  There were 82 new cases on Wednesday.

"The cases are under investigation, so the circumstances surrounding each case are currently unknown," health officials said in a statement.  They'll analyze trends and update the community "with the latest information we have in combating COVID-19."

The Springfield Public School District Wednesday announced possible COVID-19 exposures.  The district said in a statement that an individual associated with Hillcrest High School tested positive for the illness.

Prior to become symptomatic, the person interacted with others, while masked, at these locations:

A bird hanging out along the Current River near Doniphan right now must be wondering where it is.  Birders have identified the gray and white bird as a brown booby.  And their habitat is nowhere near here.

Steve Paes is a forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation.  He said he’s not a bird expert, though he enjoys birding, but this is what experts have told him.

Unsheltered individuals in Springfield will be able to stay in hotel rooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for at least 2 more weeks.

This week, the United Way of the Ozarks approved an emergency allocation of $22,000 to Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ Merciful Nights Campaign.  The funds were donated to the United Way by BKD’s special employee giving campaign to support emerging community needs from the pandemic, according to Community Partnership. 

Four more Taney County, Missouri residents have died of COVID-19.  They were all associated with Taney County nursing homes, according to the Taney County Health Department. 

The health department recently announced that 72 people associated with four nursing homes in the county had tested positive.

Tuesday, Taney County had recorded a total of 454 confirmed cases and nine deaths.

Sixteen broadband projects from eight providers will get more than $3 million, according to Missouri Governor Mike Parson. The money is from the state’s Emergency Broadband Investment Program and is expected to connect nearly 2000 households, a news release states.

In southwest Missouri, Barry Technology Services will receive $82,000 to connect 42 households with improved internet service in Barry and McDonald Counties. 

Higher Vision Works LLC will get $94,500 to extend internet service to 180 households in Theodosia and Protem in Ozark and Taney Counties.

After a meeting that lasted around 4 and a half hours, the Ozark Board of Aldermen tabled an ordinance that would require face coverings in public spaces.

Several people spoke for and against the mandate.

Two more people have died of COVID-19, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.  That brings the total number of deaths in August to five and the total number since the pandemic began to 16 in Greene County.

The latest deaths were a woman in her 90s and a man in his 50s.  Both had underlying health conditions, according to the health department.

Springfield Public School nurses return to work Tuesday.  They’ll be receiving additional training in the next two weeks before a new school year begins during a pandemic.

Jean Grabeel, director of health services for the district, said they’ll train them on things like personal protective equipment or PPE, what symptoms to watch for that could indicate a case of COVID-19 and when to isolate a student.  There will also be online training available to them.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller, members of his staff and four volunteers are in quarantine and have been since last Thursday.  That's after they learned they’d been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  There are eight people quarantined in all.

Schoeller said the person with the illness was not an election judge and they do not work directly with the public.

Students in pre-K through grade five in the Springfield Public School District will get free school supplies this year.

The district said in a statement that supplies will be ready for kids enrolled in the in-person learning option on their first day in the classroom.  Students doing the virtual learning option will be able to pick up supplies for learning at home.

Someone with COVID-19 worked out at the Dan Kinney Family Center on Blackman Rd. recently.  And that prompted the Springfield-Greene County Health Department to warn the public of potential high-risk community exposures.

The person exposed more than 300 people at the center over the course of several days, according to the health department.  While they wore a mask upon entering and exiting the building, they were not masked while they worked out.

The City of Ozark’s board of aldermen will consider an ordinance requiring face coverings at its meeting Monday, August 10, at 6 p.m.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed mandate, which is meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Six people are in custody after the Branson Police Department and the Taney County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant on a Branson motel early Sunday morning.

The Branson Police Department made the arrests after they discovered drugs and money counterfeiting operations at the Metropolitan Motel on Schaefer Drive.

According to the city, an assortment of drugs and firearms were seized along with evidence of a counterfeiting operation. 

Two more Taney County residents have died of COVID-19.  They're related to the nursing home cases the Taney County Health Department reported on August 5.  The total number of deaths in the county from COVID-19 is five.

As of August 3, a total of 72 cases had been confirmed in four facilities, according to the health department.

Cox College's learning model will look different when classes start back up on August 17.

The college’s curriculum will be delivered in a hybrid model of in-person and virtual classes, according to a news release.  The goal, it said, is to keep students off-campus “when appropriate.”

When students arrive on campus, they’ll be required to undergo a screening for COVID-19 symptoms and get a temperature check.  They’ll also be required to wear masks.

Greene County now has 14 deaths from COVID-19.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says a women in her 80s who was immunocompromised is the latest in the county to die of the illness caused by the coronavirus. 

This is the third COVID-19 death in Greene County in August.

As of Friday morning, there were 588 cases of COVID-19 in the county.  There were 60 people hospitalized with the illness, and 13 of those were in ICU.

The City of Springfield is planning intersection and traffic calming improvements in the Cherry and Pickwick area.  And it’s asking for public feedback.

The planned improvements will be along Cherry Street from Fremont on the west to the railroad crossing on the east.  The project design includes what are called “bulb-outs”—extensions of the curbline into the roadway.  They are intended to narrow the street, which will force traffic to slow down, according to the city.  But they’ll also reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians and provide more greenspace.

Burrell Behavioral Health is expanding services to Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield youth and families.  Burrell signed a memorandum of understanding this week with the Boys & Girls Clubs to include clinical behavioral health services.  A licensed Burrell clinician will now be located on-site at the Musgrave and Fremont units to provide individual and group therapy sessions, according to the Boys & Girls Clubs Facebook page.

Another Greene County resident has died of COVID-19.  According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, the latest death was a woman in her 80s who was immunocompromised. 

There’s now a total of 13 deaths related to COVID-19 in Greene County.

When classes resume in Springfield Public Schools August 24, students will only go in-person two days a week because of the pandemic.  And some parents have opted to go to all virtual learning.  A local healthcare system is going to offer its employees a place where their kids can continue to learn while they go to work. 

CoxHealth’s Meyer Center will close its doors at the end of the business day Wednesday, August 12. And, when it reopens, it will be as a student care program for children of Cox employees.

There are 70 cases of COVID-19 associated with four nursing homes in Taney County.

According to the Taney County Health Department, residents and family members have been notified of the positive cases.

As of Tuesday at 3 p.m. there were 32 cases of COVID-19 at Point Lookout Nursing and Rehab, 34 at Shepherd of the Hills Living Center, three at Forsyth Nursing & Rehab and one at Lakeside Mountain Manor.

KSMU talked to voters who had just cast ballots Tuesday at polling sites in Springfield.  We asked why they went to the polls despite the pandemic.

Voter Jack McGee:  "I've just been wanting to, I guess, just get more involved in voting for local and state politics more than just on Election Day every four years."

McGee said yes to expanding Medicaid in Missouri.

Springfield voters have agreed to impose a 5,000 dollar annual fee on short-term lending businesses, commonly referred to as payday lenders. 

Critics of "payday," or "title" loans say they prey on the poor and reinforce the cycle of poverty. A task force recommended the annual fee to Springfield City Council earlier.

The issue was posed to Springfield voters as "Question 1" on Tuesday, and nearly 57 percent said "yes" to imposing the fee on payday lenders.

Two more people have died in Taney County due to COVID-19.  A man in his 80s and a man in his 70s were residents of the county, according to the Taney County Health Department.  That brings the total number of deaths in Taney County to five.

Two-thirds of the cases reported in the county are community-spread, health officials there say.  That means they’re not linked to other positive cases of COVID-19.  They are strongly encouraging residents and visitors to wear a face covering, social distance, wash hands frequently and stay home of they’re sick.

Voters are heading to the polls today for the August Primary Election.  Polls opened at 6 this morning, and they’ll remain open until 7 tonight.

A new study by the Better Business Bureau shows that 44 percent of Americans have been a victim of a government impostor scam.  It also finds that scammers are using the pandemic to try to take advantage of people by posing as representatives of government agencies.

Stephanie Garland, Springfield regional director for the Better Business Bureau, says they’ve seen an increase in government imposter scams in southwest Missouri since the COVID-19 pandemic began.