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The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Missouri and Missouri Voter Protection Coalition have filed a lawsuit against the State of Missouri.  The suit, filed Friday, seeks to make absentee mail-in balloting available to all eligible voters in the state. 

The case was filed on behalf of the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri and several individuals, according to a news release from the ACLU.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  And any other year, communities would likely be observing it by hosting things like trash pickups and environmental celebrations.  But things are different this year because of the coronavirus.  So, the City of Springfield’s Environmental Services has come up with a way that people can still celebrate the event that began on April 22, 1970.

Springfield residents are being asked to create a work of art on their lawns.  It’s part of L.A.W.N., Lawn Art with your Neighbors, a grassroots project of Sculpture Walk Springfield, the Springfield Art Museum and Missouri State University's Art + Design Department. 

All you need to do to participate is to create a work of art using materials available at home.  It can be a sculpture, chalk art or an art installation, but it must be in front of your home.

You don’t have to be a skilled artist—you just need to tap into your creative side.

This year’s commencement ceremonies for Springfield Public Schools have been rescheduled for August 6 and 7 at JQH Arena.  The ceremonies in May were canceled due to the coronavirus.  The decision was made after the district surveyed seniors and their families.

Project Graduation will also still be held for each high school on commencement night.  Prom will be rescheduled for late July.

There's not a threat to the general public after an employee of an unidentified local workplace worked while sick recently and later tested positive for COVID-19.  That's according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department .  As KSMU reported, 65 of that patient's co-workers are now under quarantine order. 

According to health department director, Clay Goddard, 13 of them are symptomatic and have been referred for testing.  

One of Greene County’s latest cases is a person who worked while sick, according to Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director, Clay Goddard.

“Now, 65 of that patient’s co-workers are under quarantine order.  13 of those are symptomatic and have been referred to testing. This very well could be our next round of positive cases,” Goddard said Friday afternoon.

This prompted the county’s top public health official to issue a “word of caution” to employers:  think of your employees, not just your customers, during this difficult time.

The April concert in the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's 2019-2020 season, "Great American Road Trip," was scheduled for Saturday, April 18.  It has, of course, been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In its place, they have decided to produce a live fundraiser for the orchestra and its musicians on the Symphony's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/springfieldsymphony.  Lexi Locke, Marketing Manager of  the Springfield Symphony, explains.

For this week’s “Coronavirus Edition” of KSMU’s “Arts News,” we checked in with Beth Domann, Executive Director of Springfield Little Theatre, to see how they are dealing with the current shutdown. Of course, as Domann said, it has “put a halt to our entire season—that’s for sure.                                                                     

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says six more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total to 87.  And it’s alerting the public about two potential exposures from COVID-19 positive individuals.

One recent positive case visited the Walmart at 3315 S. Campbell Ave. on April 6 around 8:30 p.m.

Another confirmed case visited the Kum & Go at 777 E. Battlefield on April 7 around 3:30 p.m.

Public colleges and universities are looking to make cuts to help bridge a substantial budget gap due to a reduction in revenue becuase of the coronavirus pandemic.

Missouri State University expects $7.6 million to be withheld from its state appropriations—that’s about 8.5% of the money it expected in state funding.  It also losing millions more through other lost revenue streams, like housing, meal plans, study away programs and performing arts events.

Schools in Missouri are closed for the rest of the school year. But that doesn’t mean that learning and connecting with students has stopped.

In Bolivar, school superintendent, Tony Berry, said they’re working hard to reach out to every student, whether by email or by phone.

"We have charged all of our teachers to make as much contact--and the most important is the relationship that you continue to have with the child and making sure that somehow, someway you're connecting with them and getting the information that they need to the child," said Berry.

A new mobile testing site for COVID-19 will open Friday, April 17, in Monett.  Testing will take place at the First United Methodist Church, 1600 N. Central.

The mobile testing unit is a collaboration of CoxHealth and Mercy Aurora/Cassville.  The goal is to test more people for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a news release.

Tests will be done only on those who have been referred by a healthcare provider.

Free materials authored by volunteer lawyers and provided by The Missouri Bar can help Missourians draft their own durable power of attorney for health care.

The Missouri Bar is using National Healthcare Decisions Day, or NHDD, to remind Missourians about the free resources.

The president of The Missouri Bar, Tom Bender, said in a release that the forms help to ensure a person's health care choices will be honored, while preventing family members and providers from having to make difficult decisions alone.

City Utilities of Springfield is urging  customers to look out for scam artists after one customer had an interaction with someone posing as a CU worker.

 

The requirements for getting a COVID-19 test are being relaxed in Greene County.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Clay Goddard, said during a press briefing Tuesday, they’ve been working to expand testing capacity.  Before, a person had to have more than one symptom of COVID-19 to be referred by a healthcare professional for testing.  Now, a person has to have only one symptom.

Experts say it’s critical that people check in on older friends and neighbors, even through a simple phone call.

KSMU’s Jennifer Moore and her former neighbor, Velma Hayes, have been keeping in touch through the pandemic, and they decided to share one of their phone calls to encourage others to stay connected. 

Hayes lives independently in West Plains, Missouri, and Moore lives and works in Springfield.  You can hear their conversation here:

We encourage you to think of someone you could reach out to in a similar way. Here are a few things you might talk about:

The Discovery Center of Springfield, under normal circumstances, is a place where people of all ages can learn about science and have fun while exploring the facility’s many exhibits.  And it’s usually a place where kids can take classes focused on STEM:  Science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  But these are different times, and the Discovery Center is serving a different purpose now. 

It’s been a little more than two weeks since the Discovery Center closed its doors to the public and opened its doors as a childcare center.

Editor's note:   for families or caregivers who need support related to Alzheimer's disease, the free Alzheimer's Association helpline is available 24 hours a day.

While some stress is good for you, too much of it for too long will harm your physical, mental and emotional health.

There are several helpful ways to relieve stress, such as yoga and meditation. 

Dr. Stephen Berkwitz is the department head of religious studies at Missouri State University, with expertise in South Asian religions and culture. He offers some insights about yoga and meditation, as well as tips and advice for practicing them.

 

What can someone who’s recovered from the coronavirus do to help people still struggling with it? According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the answer could lie in their blood plasma.

  Both MSU and OTC in Springfield have dedicated emergency funds for students in need, and they remain active even during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Students at Ozarks Technical Community College will pay more for tuition in the 2020-2021 school year.  But the OTC Board of Trustees has voted to eliminate online course fees beginning June 1.  Currently, online students are charged a $65 fee for each course they attend, according to the school.

The board voted to raise the student technology fee that all students pay from $8 to $19 per credit hour.  Board members said that’s because almost all OTC courses have an online element.

The Humane Society of Southwest Missouri says it’s seen so many new animals show up recently that it’s running out of space.   KSMU’s Jennifer Moore spoke with Karen Foutch, director of development for the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.  Foutch began by saying the shelter is already using bathrooms and other spaces to house the new animals.

It’s asking the public to consider fostering animals as a temporary solution until the stay-at-home order is lifted and regular adoptions can resume.  You can hear an excerpt from their interview below:

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is now completely closed to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to a news release, the emergency closure is “for the maintenance of public health and safety and is in direct response to guidance from state and federal health officials.”

The battlefield had been open until last Saturday, except for the visitor center, and fees waived.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield superintendent, Ross Runge, said they will lift the closure as soon as possible.

If you go to a park in Greene County, make sure you use the restroom before you leave home.  The Springfield-Greene County Park Board is postponing the seasonal reopening of restrooms, drinking fountains and interactive fountains to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Restrooms and fountains are usually re-opened in early April. 

The Park Board has also closed several restrooms that have been open through the winter as well as chemical toilets.

If you go to a park in Greene County, make sure you use the restroom before you leave home.  The Springfield-Greene County Park Board is postponing the seasonal reopening of restrooms, drinking fountains and interactive fountains to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Restrooms and fountains are usually re-opened in early April. 

The Park Board has also closed several restrooms that have been open through the winter as well as chemical toilets.

Two Springfield hospitals are finding ways to help their employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mercy and CoxHealth are just two hospitals in Missouri and across the nation that have had to restrict or end non-emergency services and elective surgeries. 

Some employees impacted by those changes have been redeployed to other areas, according to a news release from Mercy.  But the health system has support programs for those that can’t be reassigned.

Like many people Missouri State University Managing Director of Theatre and Dance, Mark Templeton, is hunkered down at home during the Coronavirus stay-at-home order.  But so are the many students, Theatre and Dance faculty, and theatre professionals who would normally be gearing up for the 58th consecutive season of MSU Tent Theatre, scheduled for June 10-July 18, 2020. The 2020 Tent season has been cancelled, and Mark Templeton discussed the reasons why, and what the Theatre and Dance Department hopes to offer to fill the gap.            

Missouri will have its first elk hunting season in recent history this fall. 

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved the season during its meeting Wednesday.  Five permits will be issued for hunting bull elk.  Four general permits will be for the public and one will be reserved for qualifying landowners.

MDC has designated a nine-day archery portion, which will run October 17-25 and a nine-day firearms portion, which will run December 12-20. 

The permits will be assigned through a random lottery drawing.

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