COVID-19 | KBIA

COVID-19

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.


Courtesy of Seth Thompson

Seth Thompson learned about COVID-19 early.  He’s an engineer in Carthage, Missouri, a town of just under 15,000 that sits along historic route 66 in the southwest corner of the state. The virus first came to Thompson’s attention in February, when the global firm he works for shut down its offices in China. Back then, the danger seemed remote.

“We were seeing the news; it looked terrible, and it was but it just wasn’t here yet," Thompson said. 

Joplin hospital
zensmom1 / Flickr

Southwest Missouri has seen the biggest spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state in recent weeks, and as local leaders try to address the outbreak, one measure that they’ve discussed is requiring masks.

While an increasing amount of research supports the use of masks in public to reduce transmission of the virus, masks have become polarizing, as Joplin Mayor pro tem Keenan Cortez found out when his city raised the possibility of a mask ordinance.


Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

The Columbia city council passed an ordinance requiring people in the city to use masks. The ordinance passed six to one and takes effect this Friday at 5 p.m. It requires everyone age ten and up to use a face mask any time they might come into contact with someone they don’t live with, with a handful of exemptions.

People with medical conditions preventing the use of a mask aren’t required to wear one, and there are other exemptions for outdoor activities, among others.

How do you practice good social distance etiquette when so much of what you do involves touching? National Federation of the Blind of Missouri's GARY WUNDER answers that question and others as he describes life as a blind person during a pandemic. July 2, 2020

As COVID-19 Cases Increase, Health Officials Struggle To Access Federal Funds

Jun 30, 2020
Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

More than two months after the president approved a funding package to bolster local response to COVID-19 outbreaks, the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services department hasn’t received a penny. As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase, according to health director Stephanie Browning the department has only been able to bring on two additional contact tracers - its retired former epidemiologist, and one of its former nurses: both on a part-time basis.

 

While the state health department has provided contact tracing support for some local health departments facing major outbreaks, Boone County health officials say they’ve been asking for help for months to no avail. Assistant Health Director Scott Clardy says it’s been a frustrating experience.

 

 

Courtesy of Erik Martin

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the state's community testing would begin on June 29, rather than the correct date of June 26.

When physician Erik Martin left his home in Joplin to help with New York’s COVID-19 outbreak in April, his county had fewer than 10 confirmed cases of the virus. Since returning in May, those numbers have skyrocketed: nearly 300 Jasper County residents have tested positive, and more than 800 are in quarantine.

“I never expected that within such a short period of time, my home town would become a COVID hotspot, as it has now,” Martin said. He was alarmed when he first learned a patient who tested positive worked at the Butterball poultry processing plant in nearby Carthage. After seeing a second Butterball worker, he alerted the county health department to the potential outbreak.

KBIA

Since we began the Check-In, we’ve gone from crisis to crisis - a global pandemic sparked off an economic crisis and merged into a movement calling for an end to police violence and for reconciliation and racial justice.

Verna Laboy, left, stands next to Dee Campbell-Carter, right. They both smile broadly into the camera.
Provided by Dee Campbell-Carter

Verna Laboy is a health educator for Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services, and runs the Live Well by Faith program, a community-based health program that targets chronic health conditions through black churches. 

The program supports health ministries at 17 black churches in the area by providing health programming, training and resources for people in the congregation, and leaders within each church help run programming and do data collection.

She spoke with Dee Campbell-Carter, a lifestyle coach for the program, about just a few of the ways the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting the black community here in Columbia – and how they’re supporting one another.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

KBIA

It’s been about 11 weeks since Boone County issued its initial stay at home orders and many businesses, schools, individuals and families went into isolation and lockdown mode.

Now, businesses are re-opening, clinics and hospitals are resuming routine health care, and in the midst of a social-justice movement and demonstrations, people are taking to the streets. 

KBIA

If you know just a little bit about journalism, you’ve heard the word “objective” thrown around. 

Journalists should show up, witness, observe and then go back and report the truth. But while the facts are king in our world, the mandate for being fair and objective makes us very cautious. Do our goals of objectivity - a thing which might not even exist - prevent us from telling it like it is? 

KBIA

As hundreds of citizens show up in town squares and streets to call for justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, many people are asking: How can this happen? How can police violence and the deaths of black citizens at the hands of police happen over and over again in our American democracy?

And before this, we were already in a pandemic that was disproportionately impacting black and Latinx communities, many of whom work as essential workers.

For answers, many are looking at how our systems work in the U.S. and calling for systemic change, from our policing and justice systems to health care and education.

If you’re looking at the news right now, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve maybe entered another dimension. Things can seem more than surreal. So much so that KBIA’s T’Keyah and Janet have been discussing apocalyptic storytelling. Especially the kind that brings attention to the experiences of the marginalized and helps us empathize and imagine - or even predict - a different future.

Octavia Butler does this. So does Margaret Atwood, among many others.

KBIA

In this episode, we're checking in with people who have been and currently are on the frontlines of the civil rights movements of today and years ago.

KBIA

We are in the midst of turbulent, and for many, dangerous times. And having the current crises played and re-played in the media and in real life for us day after day can take a toll -- especially for our black families and kids.

So how do we talk about the grief and loss that is part of life at center stage? What can we do for our kids who are feeling loss and even trauma from these events in their own lives as well as prominently in the media?

Reporter recording under a blanket
Courtesy Aqil Hamzah

Students in a Missouri School of Journalism multimedia class taught by Professors Kat Lucchesi and Major King started their spring semester thinking they were going to do a series of podcasts about a faraway pandemic.

Then it hit home, scattering the team across the country — and, in one case, beyond — and depriving them of access to the equipment they'd normally use to create their programs.

While interviewing professional journalists about how they keep their cool in the face of crisis, the reporters and producers of this story got a test of their own resilience. 


KBIA

It’s impossible to talk about the events unfolding today with this double crisis we’re in - the virus and the widespread public outcry against racism within American law enforcement - without wondering how we got here and whether history can help us understand it.

Tony Webster / CC BY 2.0

The Camden County Health Department confirmed Friday that a Boone County resident who tested positive for COVID-19 visited Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend. In a news release, the department listed a number of establishments the person visited, including some depicted in videos that attracted international attention over the past week. 

MCDHH Facebook Page

The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing announced today that they’re making clear, accessible masks available to Missourians.

These accessible masks have clear fronts, which allow people to clearly see an individual’s mouth while they speak. This aspect of communication is critical for those who read lips and an integral part of effective communication for those who speak American Sign Language.


KBIA

Theater is the idea of gathering with a group of people to see a live story unfold before our eyes in a way that transforms or challenges our vision of the world. And it all might seem like a distant dream right now.

This crisis has hit the theater world hard. Even on Broadway and well beyond, actors, writers, directors and dramatists have found themselves out of work and disconnected from their audiences and their art.

KBIA

Health experts have asked us to continue social and physical distancing during this covid crisis, also to wear masks in many public places and to get tested if symptoms pop up. But this isn’t the first time Missourians have been asked to practice precaution during a viral outbreak.

More than a hundred years ago, the 1918 flu, often called the Spanish flu, overtook the United States and hit parts of Missouri especially hard. Even then, schools and churches closed and people were told to stay home to protect themselves and each other from what the CDC calls the most severe pandemic in recent history. Between 1918-1919, an estimated 675,000 Americans died from the H1N1 flu virus and an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

Sarah Dresser

Some of us are planners. We plan everything to the last detail and we like to be prepared. And that has complicated life events like childbirth during this time of pandemic uncertainty.

An expectant mother's “birth plan” and the decisions leading up to the birth are a big deal right now with constantly evolving standards set by hospitals, including limitations on visitors, recommended early inductions and covid tests before the big day.

Provided by Jordan Parshall

Many routine medical procedures have been postponed or rescheduled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but there is one common medical condition that cannot be put off so easily – pregnancy.

So, hospitals in Mid-Missouri have had to determine the best ways to keep moms, babies and staff safe, as well as reduce anxiety for expectant mothers.


KBIA

As businesses in mid-Missouri begin to re-open, we’re all moving cautiously and optimistically toward a way forward into the new normal. Some of the first places many of us want to return to are our vibrant small-businesses -- the independent stores, restaurants and bookshops -- that breathe life into our college town here in Columbia and also in towns like Fulton, Moberly and Mexico. But as we all know, this covid crisis has wreaked havoc on small businesses and our public health is still at risk along with our economic health.

Meiying Wu

Today, new guidance was announced for a wider reopening of businesses and activity in Columbia and Boone County.

According to the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, there have been 108 positive COVID-19 cases in the area, with nine being active and one person hospitalized.


Dr. John Dane, left, wears a light blue polo and glasses. Gary Harbison, right, wears a dark blue button up and glasses.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Dr. John Dane is the state Dental Director and Gary Harbison is the executive director of the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health.

They spoke about some of the concerns they have about the possible long-term impacts of COVID-19 on oral health, as many dental clinics have been closed and Missourians may have gotten out of a normal oral health routine.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

KBIA

Sometimes on these episodes we look at the things that are getting us through - the books, the music, the coping strategies and structures that are helping us get by in a crisis. A big answer to this question for many of us is our faith.

But one challenging aspect of this crisis has been that it comes with public health orders and advice to shut down and isolate, in order to stay safe, just when you need those you love around you and you need your faith community.

KBIA

Rural Missouri has faced some challenging disasters in the past: tornadoes, floods and droughts to name a few in only the past couple of years. And while, yes, the covid crisis has had a large impact on urban areas with more concentrated populations, rural communities are also feeling the reach of the virus on many day to day aspects of life.

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