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COVID-19

The Check-In: Having Fun

19 hours ago

As we've covered before on The Check-In, times have been hard over the past year. Many of us have suffered from financial hardship and social isolation in some form or another. We have also done our part to stay mentally healthy - and for that, it’s important to have fun.

So, that's the theme of our show today -- having fun. What have been some of your pandemic past-times? We’ve all had to find things to do that are inexpensive and also can be done in isolation. Let us know: What hobbies did you pick up, this time last year? Was it baking, crafting, getting outdoors? Where have you been finding your fun?

The vaccine rollout has been good news for everyone and everything - even the stock market is happy; as ALEX LaBRUNERIE tells us, it's "hitting new records" thanks to the slowly rebounding travel industry, among other sectors. But what about the companies that developed the vaccines? The news there may surprise you. March 26, 2021

More Missourians are becoming eligible to get vaccinated as the state opens up appointments to Tier 3. More than 21,000 people have been vaccinated in Boone County by MU Health Care, Boone Health, and Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services.  

Sara Humm, the Public Information Specialist at Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, said that the vaccination process has progressed with federal vaccine supplies and to the vaccines granted to Boone County from the state.

Monday marked the opening of the next tier for COVID-19 vaccination eligibility in Missouri. This week on Views of the News, how transparent is that process, and what lengths are residents going to in order to find and sign up for appointments? Also, criticism rains down on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, a potential new suitor for Tribune Publishing and how leaders across America are planning to repopulate newsrooms.

For maybe the first time on The Check-In, we may be able to say it: things just might be looking up.

The number of new COVID-19 cases registered nationwide is at the lowest point since mid-October. The number of people getting vaccined is beginning to outpace the number of new infections. Boone County signed a health order that took effect last week allowing businesses to resume normal operating hours with increased maximum capacity limitations. On today's episode, we're very cautiously looking forward to what's next.

Our community members are our guests on this episode! What will you do after the pandemic? What do you think the world will look like after this?

Lebanon city officials say the family of a police officer who died of COVID-19 is being denied workers compensation.

The city says Officer Kendle Blackburn died Dec. 28 after an extended battle with COVID-19. The Springfield News-Leader reports the city was told last week that its worker's compensation provider, Missouri Employers Mutual, ruled that Blackburn's death was not covered.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

COVID-19 vaccine education and outreach are hard enough without a language barrier. But for Missouri’s Spanish-speaking immigrant communities, these efforts are critical.

Many work in high-risk environments like meat and poultry processing plants. And while most still aren’t eligible for a vaccine, health officials and providers face a number of challenges to be ready when they are.


The Check-In: The COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Feb 19, 2021
Margaret Day/Joann Martin

Since our last episode of The Check-In, a lot has happened. It's 2021, we have a new presidential administration, and a new plan for rolling out vaccines for COVID-19. But how is the rollout going here in Mid-Missouri?  Are you one of the more than 878,000 people to receive a shot, or are you still on a waiting list? How is it going for you?

Today, we'll speak with two guests to answer some of the most common questions about the vaccine rollout in Mid-Missouri. 

Our guests:

Dr. Margaret Day, Co-Chair, MU Health Care Vaccination Committee

This week on Views of the News, a look back – and a look ahead – from the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Also, a Voice of America reporter is reassigned after questioning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Vogue editors defend their February cover, a portrait of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris some say is too casual.

Jesse Hall on a cloudy day.
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

The University of Missouri is requiring certain students to take a COVID-19 test ahead of the 2021 spring semester.

Testing will be mandatory for approximately 6,300 undergraduate students living in university sponsored or owned housing.

Spokesperson Christian Basi says the goal is to prevent the spread of the disease but also to glean information that could inform safety protocols.

MU Health Care's main campus, near Stadium Blvd. in downtown Columbia.
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

MU Health Care has a tiered system for distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to its staff as soon as it gets its first shipment. The vaccine is still awaiting emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

Staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients and carrying out other high-risk procedures will be the highest priority for vaccination. After that high-priority group, support staff including custodians would be the next target for vaccination. 

Courtesy of CoxHealth

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Missouri, and unlike other surges earlier in the summer, hospitals in most parts of the state are filling up. At Cox Health, a health system in Springfield that operates multiple hospitals, expanding capacity over the past nine months still hasn't been enough.

Cox has added more than 100 beds, but the system has still had to turn people away. CEO Steve Edwards told the Health and Wealth Desk how the system is surviving the surge.


Mizzou Show Me Renewal

It’s the first time since the University of Missouri started reporting COVID-19 cases that the number of “TOTAL STUDENTS HOSPITALIZED SINCE AUG. 19, 2020” was not zero.

The Show Me Renewal dashboard was updated on Monday to two students, marked with a double asterisk.


Has Fox News been outfoxed by competition that's even more partisan? 

Wikimedia Commons

A month ago, there were fewer than 60 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Boone County. This week, there were more than 140. COVID-19 hospitalizations are up across the state, with more than 2,000 people admitted as of November 7, according to the Missouri Hospital Association.

The increase was enough to push BJC Healthcare to start deferring some scheduled procedures at hospitals in the St. Louis area. Columbia hospitals aren’t there yet, but it’s not out of the question.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

This story was updated on November 5, 2020 to include comment from Dr. Jonathan Heidt.

When MU Health Care closed one of its two drive-thru coronavirus testing sites in mid-September, it pointed to a drop in the number of people getting tested. At that point, drive thru testing appointments had fallen by more than 1,000 from the peak of nearly 3,200 at the end of August. Since then, appointments have fallen further, dropping to just 1,500 the week of October 19.

Dr. Jonathan Heidt is the vice chair of operations for emergency medicine at MU Health Care and oversees the system's coronavirus testing. He says demand has fluctuated, increasing in the summer, and spiked at the end of August, as university students returned for classes. Since then demand has tailed off, and Heidt says that's worrying, especially with the positivity rate increasing. "We really should be doing more testing to find those cases and intervene on them," Heidt said. 


It’s an October surprise! Views of the News is back on KBIA after a six-month hiatus. Join Missouri School of Journalism professors Amy Simons, Earnest Perry and Kathy Kiely for our weekly media roundtable. This week, they’ll discuss the coverage of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, from the overnight announcement via Twitter to his return to the White House and the challenge for journalists finding themselves exposed to the virus. Also, how COVID-19 is affecting how we entertain ourselves on the big screen and at home.

MU Health Care's main campus, near Stadium Blvd. in downtown Columbia.
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are on the rise in Missouri, especially in parts of the outstate with fewer hospital resources. Smaller rural hospitals are referring patients to larger more resourced hospitals in major outstate cities including Springfield and Columbia.

For Steve Edwards, the earliest warning signs started popping up in July. As the CEO of Cox Health in Springfield, Edwards has seen hospitalizations spike since the start of September. Nearly 70 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at Cox as of Thursday and more than 90 people have died from the disease at Cox facilities.

The University of Missouri says it has disciplined an additional 20 current or former students with suspensions, probation and other sanctions for what it called “egregious violations” of policies meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. The university said in a news release Friday all of these violations were related to hosting gatherings of more than 20 people. The latest moves comes on top of actions taken earlier this month that expelled or suspended five students for violations of safety policies amid coronavirus pandemic.

MU Health Care's main campus, near Stadium Blvd. in downtown Columbia.
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Weeks after a major spike in COVID-19 cases in Boone County, hospitalizations are on the rise. The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services said the week of September 14 saw an all-time high of 61 total hospitalizations, with 11 patients on ventilators.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

In less than a month, more than 1,300 students at the university of Missouri have tested positive for the coronavirus. Case investigation and contact tracing are key components of controlling the outbreak, but students say the university is falling behind.


A return to pre-pandemic childcare subsidy reimbursements has some Missouri childcare providers feeling left in the lurch.


Hickman High School
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columba Public School Board voted 6 -1 Monday night to begin the school year entirely online – a change from the intended in-person/hybrid plan introduced just a few weeks ago.


Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

In a press briefing Friday morning, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Director Stephanie Browning announced new orders for the county, in light of an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases.

The restrictions apply largely to alcohol sales and restaurant and bar operations, as well as social gatherings. They come on the heels of two weeks of rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases in the county, which currently has a seven-day positivity rate of 44.6 percent, according to Browning.  The seven-day positivity rate is calculated by dividing the amount of positive tests by the number of overall positive tests during that time period.

Sara Shariari / KBIA

The University of Missouri will require students who test positive for the virus to report the results directly to the university within four hours of receiving them.

The requirement is part of a set of new policies MU issued on Monday, a week before classes are set to start on August 24. 

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Missouri has entered its sixth month of navigating the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and for dozens of health departments across the state, CARES Act funding has been slow to arrive.

That means crucial public-health positions like contact tracers and case investigators have been left unfilled. So, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services has found one creative stop-gap – Masters in Public Health student volunteers.


Courtesy of Angela Kender

More than 1,200 Missourians have died from COVID-19 since the first confirmed case back in March. With new data and every day, the human aspect of that loss can get lost in the numbers. Angela Kender is looking to change that.

After losing her mother to COVID-19 in June, Kender has decided to organize a project to commemorate her, and everyone else who has lost loved ones to the disease. She’s collecting photographs of those lost at missouricovidmemorial@gmail.com. Kender plans to take the photographs to the Missouri state capitol during the current legislative special session.

Green Leaf Dental Care

Many things have changed for dental practices since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic – starting with several months of closures dealing with only oral health emergencies. Now, dentists are having to figure out how to preserve PPE, or personal protective equipment, enforce social distancing and minimize the risk of disease spread as they reopen their practices.

And while these are serious challenges, some practitioners and oral health advocates are encouraged at a possible positive outcome of the ongoing pandemic – the increased interest in and implementation of teledentistry.


Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

Francisco Bonilla is a pastor who runs a low-power radio station out of his church, Casa de Sanidad in Carthage, Missouri. On a hot summer day, he’s showing me around the studio.

Bonilla mainly uses the station to broadcast sermons and religious music. These days, he’s also focused on COVID-19, which has hit a lot of Latinx workers at the Butterball poultry processing plant.


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