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.

City officials in Springfield and local health professionals continue to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The number of people seeking the vaccine has dropped by 43 percent since April 9, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department at a press briefing Tuesday.  As of Tuesday morning, 33 percent of Greene County residents 16 and older had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A steady supply of the Pfizer vaccine is allowing Mercy to offer walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the health system.  The vaccines are available at 4520 S. National Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  You can also make an appointment by going to mercy.net/MOVaccine.

Vaccines are also available through Mercy at various sites around the Ozarks.

Springfield City Council voted unanimously Monday night to amend city ordinance to remove requirements to wear face masks outdoors except for gatherings of more than 500 where people are less than six feet from one another. 

The decision comes after the CDC last week announced new guidelines that said it’s safe to unmask outdoors if you’re vaccinated.  The agency also declared it was safe for unvaccinated people to participate in outdoor, unmasked activities with members of one’s household or other fully vaccinated people. 

The host of KSMU’s long running bluegrass program, Seldom Heard Music, is featured this month in a national music magazine.  The article about Mike Smith, titled, “Mike Smith, A Music Seldom Heard,” was written by Dale McCurry with editing by Bambi Grinder, cofounders of Noteworthy Music.  It’s in this month’s issue of Bluegrass Unlimited, established in 1966 and now a publication of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Severe weather is a possibility, mainly from 6 p.m. to midnight, according to the National Weather Service office in Springfield.  Any storms that can develop this afternoon could also become severe, it warns.

The National Weather Service confirmed that four EF-0 tornadoes touched down during severe weather in southern Missouri on Wednesday.

A tornado with winds up to 76 mph briefly touched down just before 10 a.m. a half mile southwest of Chadwick in Christian County.

A tornado with winds up to 85 mph was on the ground for nearly two miles at 11:13 a.m. near Gentryville in Douglas County.

A tornado with winds around 70 mph touched down at 9:29 a.m. west of Walnut Shade in Taney County.

The campgrounds at Roaring River State Park near Cassville, MO are temporarily closed due to damage from flood waters on Wednesday.  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources said they could open back up as early as Sunday.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is allowing fishing, although angler access may be restricted in some areas as cleanup continues.

This year’s Artsfest will feature work for sale by a variety of artisans, food booths and live music.  And it will offer something else:  COVID-19 vaccines.

The Greene County CARES Mobile Support Unit will be stationed near the event to give shots to those who want them.

The announcement of the two new deaths from COVID-19 in Greene County comes after last week’s report from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department had no fatalities from the illness.

Additional flooding is possible across the Ozarks through Thursday morning.  Flood warnings remain in effect after heavy rains moved through southern Missouri.  Severe weather also impacted parts of southern Missouri Wednesday morning with numerous tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings issued.

The Missouri Ozarks could get up to four inches of rain over the next couple of days with localized higher amounts.

According to the National Weather Service, a flash flood watch is in effect through tomorrow morning for counties along and south of I-44.

The weather service says isolated strong to severe storms will be possible this afternoon and evening.  The main hazard will be flooding.  But the storms could bring frequent lightning, hail up to the size of quarters and damaging winds up to 60 mph.

You’ll find lots of genres of books for sale this week at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library’s Spring Book Sale.

But the sale isn’t all books.  Friends member, Andrea Still, said they have vintage paper dolls, a selection of mint postage stamps, theatre lobby posters for old movies, jigsaw puzzles and record albums.  Still said someone donated a large classic rock album collection, and the estate of MSU Tent Theatre cofounder, Byrne Blackwood, donated his collection of musical theatre albums for the sale.

CoxHealth plans to close its COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics soon and move vaccines into doctors’ offices.  CoxHealth president and CEO Steve Edwards said Friday they would stop holding the clinics in a couple of weeks.

Edwards said the healthcare system has administered 88,000 doses, but they’re seeing demand for the vaccine go down.

According to Edwards, they’re moving the vaccine into doctors’ offices for patient convenience, and they hope that will result in more people getting the shot.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is reminding residents that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. 

CoxHealth officials are urging people to continue to get tested for COVID-19 and to seek medical care immediately if they suspect they have the illness.

A paddlefish caught recently on Table Rock Lake has an interesting story attached to it.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be held at two Springfield-Greene County Library branches.

The clinics are set for May 1st from 9 a.m. to noon at the Library Center and from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Library Station and are for all Missourians 16 and older.  The Pfizer vaccine will be available, and participants can get their first or second doses.

Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is strongly encouraged.  To register, go to covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator or call 417-874-1211.

Another Ozarks city is ending its mask ordinance that was put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The City of Ozark’s mandate will end at 11:59 Thursday night, April 22.  According to a press release, the decision to end the mask requirement was made due to declining cases, vaccination efforts and “the wishes of Ozark’s residents.”

This week’s report of COVID-19 deaths in Greene County, Missouri includes one person, a man in his 70s.  He had underlying health conditions that put him at increased risk for severe illness.  He was not in a long-term care facility.  That brings the total number of Greene County residents who have died of COVID-19 to 427.

According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, that is the first COVID-19 death that has occurred in the county in April.

The City of Branson will no longer require masks in public spaces as of this Friday.  In March, the Board of Aldermen voted to end the mask mandate on May 24th.  But yesterday, the board voted in favor of an ordinance sponsored by Branson’s newly elected mayor, Larry Milton, to end the requirement earlier.

According to a news release, Milton sponsored the bill because of the declining cases of COVID-19 in Missouri and because 23.3 percent of Stone County residents and 19.7 percent of Taney County residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks says there’s a critical need right now for O negative blood.  According to the blood center, “reserves are alarmingly low.”  That’s due in part to a significant increase in hospital usage over the past several months.  Over the past four months, hospital blood transfusion rates have increased more than 16 percent over the same time last year.

O Negative blood is a universal blood type, meaning anyone can receive it regardless of their blood type.

The CBCO says donors can give even if they’ve just received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The State of Missouri is pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine until further notice.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control recommended a pause in the vaccine early Tuesday after six women developed a rare and dangerous blood clot after receiving it.

Students at Ozarks Technical Community College won’t pay more for tuition in the 2021-22 school year.

At its monthly meeting Monday, the OTC Board of Trustees adopted the administration's recommendation to hold tuition flat for the upcoming school year, according to the school in a news release.  

OTC Board chair, John Gentry, said, “as our community emerges from the pandemic, we need to remove barriers to education so students can receive the training they need to enter the workforce." 

Businesses in Greene County, Missouri now have access to a tool kit to help them encourage their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The City of Springfield is hosting a virtual open house through Sunday, April 11, to get input on ideas for the Renew Jordan Creek project.

Visitors who go to renewjordancreek.com will be able to view proposed usage and design concepts for phase one of the project and choose their favorites.

Nixa’s emergency mask order will end at 11:59 p.m. on April 30. 

In a news release, Nixa’s mayor, Brian Steele, said, “I am now confident that by April 30, a significant portion of our population will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated, including the most vulnerable members of our community.”  He said he’s pleased to see COVID-19 infection rates in Christian County remain low over the last few weeks.  Steele said the city continues to work with regional health leaders and neighboring communities regarding ongoing pandemic response.

This week’s Crosswalk Yield Check in Springfield is at Fort and Madison near McGregor Elementary School.

The Springfield Police Department will have four officers at that location for about four hours watching for crosswalk violations.  Posted signage will let drivers know they’re approaching a Yield Check location. 

Drivers who don’t yield when someone is in the crosswalk will be pulled over and given a warning and educational materials.  According to the City of Springfield, after a three-month warning period, drivers may receive citations for blatant violations.

Springfield City Council is planning to move the city to the next phase in the road to recovery on April 16.

Council voted Monday night to move from the red phase to the yellow phase.  It will remove COVID-19 occupancy restrictions and will allow buffet dining and special events under 500 people.

UPDATE:  The endangered silver advisory has been canceled.  Gregory Ritter has been located and is safe.  

The Hickory County Sheriff's Office has issued an Endangered SILVER Advisory for a missing adult incident.  Sixty-nine-year-old Gregory Ritter, left his home at 22242 County Road 271A in Wheatland just before 3 yesterday afternoon to go to the store but never made it there.

Ritter is diagnosed with dementia and diabetes and left home without his medications.

Anyone can now schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine at Mercy without first having to register to determine eligibility.

Mercy’s executive director for pharmacy for Mercy Springfield Communities, David Wolfrath, said in a news release, as the vaccine becomes more plentiful, it’s ready for people to choose their appointment times.  Eligibility opens up to all Missouri residents on Friday, April 9.