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 Springfield-Greene County Health Department is offering a way to let parents and children know which houses are practicing a safe Halloween this year during a pandemic. 

If you plan to hand out candy and you’ve found a safe way to do so, you’re asked to decorate with the color purple.  That might include painting a pumpkin purple, using purple light bulbs or decorating the front door.

The Springfield-Greene County Library is taking extra steps to protect patrons from the coronavirus. 

Starting Monday, November 2, face masks will be required for children three to 11-years-old.  Medical exemptions are permitted.  That goes beyond the City of Springfield ordinance, which requires face coverings for anyone over age 11.  The mask requirement applies to library branches outside the city, too.

Library visitors are also asked to practice social distancing and use frequent hand washing. 

Five more Greene County residents have died of COVID-19.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said the latest deaths from the illness are a man in his 50s, a woman in her 60s, a man in his 60s and two women in their 70s.

Seventy-one Greene County residents have died of COVID-19 in October, and a total of 148 has died since the pandemic began.

The number of people who have died in Greene County from COVID-19 this month is up to 66.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced two more deaths from the illness on Wednesday.  They were a man in his 80s and a women in her 100s whose only risk factor was her age.  A total of 143 Greene County residents has died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The Springfield Police Department is partnering with Convoy of Hope to help those who might need food in the community.

Tuesday the two organizations announced the Patrol Pack Program.  Officers will be able to take tote bags filled with nonperishable food to give to those they encounter on their service calls who need food assistance.

According to a news release, officers often encounter people in need, and they’ve used their own money to buy food or other items for them.  The new program will allow officers to provide immediate assistance.

Another person has died of COVID-19 in Joplin.  The Joplin Health Department said the latest person to die of the illness is a 98-year-old female who was a resident of a Joplin long-term care facility. There have been 35 deaths in Joplin due to COVID-19. 

Two residents of long-term care facilities are the latest deaths from COVID-19 in Greene County, Missouri.  One was a woman in her 60s, and the other was a woman in her 80s.  Sixty-two people have died in Greene County of COVID-19 in October.  There’s been a total of 139 deaths since the pandemic began.

U.S. Congressman Billy Long, a Republican, was elected to the Missouri 7th Congressional District seat in 2010, and in the upcoming Presidental Election he'll face two opponents.  KSMU reached out to Long; independent candidate, Audrey Richards; and Libertarian candidate, Kevin Craig, for interviews, and only Richards and Craig responded .  Below are the interviews with Richards and Craig.

As COVID-19 continues spreading in Greene County, the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said he's cautiously optimistic that a recent slowdown in cases will continue.

Clay Goddard told Springfield City Council Tuesday that the county's seven day rolling average was up one percent compared to the prior seven days, which he called "a very stable percentage."

Free drive-thru COVID-19 testing is being offered in several cities in Missouri, including Joplin, Aurora and Branson.  The tests will be administered in Joplin Wednesday, October 28, Friday, October 30, and Monday, November 2, from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Walmart on 7th Street.  Tests will be offered in Aurora Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, October 27-29, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Price Cutter Pharmacy and in Branson Tuesday, October 27, Tuesday, November 3, and Tuesday, November 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CoxHealth, 121 Cahill Rd.

Update:   Last night’s Listening Session that was to be hosted by the City of Springfield was canceled due to low response.  There were only two people signed up to speak.

Two more sessions are planned for November 9th and 23rd from 6 to 8 p.m. at Drury’s Wilhoit Theatre.  Those sessions will be livestreamed on Facebook and on the City of Springfield’s website.

According to city officials, the listening sessions are being held so citizens have a chance to address City Council on the topics of crime, race relations and race relations and policing.

Some people who haven’t been able to give blood in the past or those who have been deferred from giving blood will be impacted by new FDA rules.

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks has adopted new federal guidelines that will allow for the re-entry of thousands of people to the donor pool who were previously deferred, according to a news release.

The updated FDA guidance changes the period of deferral from 12 months to three months in several donor categories. 

Those include:

An employee of Missouri State University has died after contracting COVID-19.

MSU President Clif Smart sent a statement to university employees Friday saying Jason Rhea, assistant director of facilities management, grounds, died last night at Cox South.  He had been hospitalized with COVID-19 since October 10.  Rhea was exposed to the virus off campus and had quarantined before testing positive.

The Greene County Commission has approved CARES Act funding for 43 additional small businesses.  The grants, approved Thursday, total $380,000. 

So far, the commission has approved $25,517,727.40 of the $34.4 million in CARES Act Relief Money allotted for Greene County.

Applications for the grants are reviewed by subcommittees of the CARES Act Citizens Advisory Committee.  The 30-member volunteer group votes on the subcommittee recommendations and then they’re passed to the Greene County Commission for final approval.

Here's who received the latest grant money:

A woman in her 70s is the latest Greene County resident to die of COVID-19.  That death brings the number of deaths from the illness in the county in October to 54.  A total of 131 Greene County residents has died of COVID-19.

As of Thursday morning, there were 9,213 COVID-19 cases in the county, and 3,067 of those were active.  181 people were hospitalized in Springfield with the illness.  Thirty of them were in the ICU, and 72 were from Greene County.

Three cheetah cubs at Dickerson Park Zoo are being hand raised by zoo staff.  The babies, two boys and a girl, were delivered October 1 by cesarean section when they were past due and their mom wasn’t showing any signs of going into labor.

Four more Greene County residents have died of COVID-19.  The latest deaths were a woman in her 60s, a man in his 70s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s.

Fifty-one Greene County residents have died of the illness so far this month, and there have been 128 deaths since the pandemic began.

In a news release, the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department Clay Goddard said lives depend on everyone wearing masks, washing their hands and maintaining at least a six-foot distance from others.

Greene County has lost 128 residents to COVID-19.  And the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has created a COVID-19 Living Memorial to remember them and those who might die from the illness in the future.

Assistant director of health, Katie Towns, says they hope the memorial lets families know they aren’t alone and that the community is here for them.

It will be updated regularly with photos and memories of those who have died of COVID-19.  Families of those who die can share what they want the community to remember about their loved ones.

Three more Greene County, Missouri residents have died of COVID-19.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported the deaths on Monday.  They were a man in his 50s with no underlying health conditions; a woman in her 40s and a man in his 70s.

There have been 47 deaths from COVID-19 reported by the health department in October and a total of 124 since the pandemic began.

Monday morning the health department reported 8,963 cases, and 3,155 of those were active.  There were 181 people hospitalized in Springfield with the illness, and 28 were in the ICU.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, October, 21, masks will be required in both Nixa and Ozark.  The leaders of both cities Tuesday issued orders requiring masks when people are not able to maintain at least a six foot distance from others anywhere except for their primary residence.

The deadline to request a mail-in absentee ballot or a no-excuse mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 21.  In-person absentee voting, for those who fall into one of seven categories, will continue through Monday, November 2.

Following the death of George Floyd and other Black citizens across the country at the hands of police officers, the local NAACP issued demands to the City of Springfield.  They include:  Banning vascular neck restraints/choke holds or any form of neck restraints; reducing the traffic stop disparity index; and making reforms to the Police Civilian Review Board.

The Missouri Job Center Ozark Region and the American Legion Goad-Ballinger Post 69 will host the Veterans Job Fair Thursday, October 22.  It will be a drive-through event to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in the parking lot between American Legion Post 69, 149 Memorial Plaza, and Jordan Valley Ice Park, 635 E. Trafficway, in downtown Springfield.

Springfield’s mayor, Ken McClure has been awarded the 2020 Government Excellence Award by the Missouri State University Board of Governors.

McClure has advocated for and continues to advocate for the university and the city, according to MSU officials in a news release.

They said he has provided leadership during the pandemic to protect Springfield residents.  City Council passed a masking ordinance as well as facility occupancy and gathering restrictions.

MSU’s president and administrative council recommend recipients for the award.   

The Taney County Health Department and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will hold a flu shot clinic this week in Branson for anyone 18 and over.

The clinic will be held Tuesday, October 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Branson Neurology and Pain Center, 121 Cahill Road.

You don’t need to make an appointment.  Vaccines will be given on a first come, first serve basis.  Masks are required, and you should stay home if you’re sick, according to TCHD.

The Springfield Public Schools Board of Education will interview superintendent search firms Monday night, October 19, as members begin the process of finding a replacement for the current SPS superintendent.

The firms in the running to help find a replacement for Dr. John Jungmann are GR Recruiting; Hazard, Young, Attea Associates; and Ray and Associates, Inc.

Five nursing home residents are the latest deaths from COVID-19 in Greene County, Missouri.  According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, they were a woman in her 80s, three women in their 90s and a man in his 90s.  Forty-four Greene County residents have died this month, and 121 have died since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday morning, there were 8,628 COVID-19 cases in Greene County, and 3,087 of them were active.  There were 163 hospitalized in Springfield with the illness, and 30 of them were in the ICU.

Public health officials continue to push social distancing and avoiding large gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  So, how will the pandemic impact the holiday season, which is quickly approaching?

Dr. Nancy Yoon, chief medical officer for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said, if you decide to host events, have smaller gatherings.

Freeman Health System in Joplin and the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks are reaching out to uninsured and underinsured women in an effort to save lives.

They’ll offer free breast health evaluations and mammograms Friday, October 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Wes and Jan Houser Women’s Pavilion, 1532 W. 32nd St. in Joplin. 

According to the organizations in a news release, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S.  And early detection is key to curing it and allowing for expanded treatment options.

A man who was in his 70s is the 39th death of a Greene County resident from COVID-19 in October.  He was not a nursing home resident.  So far, 116 of the county’s residents have died of the illness.

And the Springfield-Greene County Health Department is urging people to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, social distancing, washing your hands often and staying home if you’re sick.

Starting in November, students in grades K-8 who attend Springfield Public Schools will go to class in person four days a week.  Since the school year started, some students have gone to school on Monday and Tuesday and some have gone on Thursday and Friday.  High school students will continue to go in person only two days a week.

According to SPS in a statement, Wednesday will remain a virtual learning day so that schools can be cleaned.