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The Missouri Department of Social Services will be able to use United States Department of Agriculture food to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

DSS was given approval by the federal agency to use USDA foods to operate Disaster Household Distribution.  Missourians in need will be able to get a food package from mobile and drive-by locations through May 7.

The food will be distributed through six Missouri food banks, including Ozarks Food Harvest at more than 200 distribution sites.

After Governor Parson ordered public and charter schools in Missouri to remain closed through the rest of the school year, Springfield Public Schools superintendent, Dr. John Jungmann, issued a statement.  He called Thursday “a sad day for Missouri educators, students and teachers.”  But he said the district wants what’s best for students and staff and that the governor’s decision was necessary.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has announced an eighth death from COVID-19 in the county. 

Meanwhile, the health department's director, Clay Goddard, said the community needs to do better at working to prevent the spread of the illness, although he believes the stay at home order is working.

The person who died was a man in his 70s who was immunocompromised.  He was not a resident of the assisted living facility, Morningside East, which had several cases and five deaths from the novel coronavirus.

City Utilities is asking everyone who uses its properties around Springfield for recreation to follow the CDC’s guidelines and stay six feet from other people.

According to a news release from CU, a lot of people have been visiting Fellows Lake and McDaniel Lake for fishing and other forms of recreation. 

Missouri is moving forward with its first alternate care site for COVID-19 patients, according to Governor Mike Parson.  In his Wednesday press briefing, Parson said a hotel in Florissant, in the St. Louis region, is being converted to a care facility and could be used as early as next week if needed.

He said the care site will assist hospitals in the St. Louis region treating an increased number of COVID-19 cases.

The Missouri National Guard was on-site Wednesday to start the preconstruction process, and construction is expected to begin this weekend. 

The Springfield Regional Arts Council has published an "Update on Artsfest 2020" at https://www.springfieldarts.org/index.php/Artsfest.  It reads in part:

Missouri State University Tent Theatre was preparing for their 58th consecutive season of plays and musicals performed in the big tent erected every spring behind Craig Hall by the MSU Theatre and Dance Department.  

However, due to the Coronavirus, it was announced that "with heavy hearts, but sincere optimism for the future, Tent Theatre announces the cancellation of its 2020 summer season scheduled for June 10-July 18."

The "Note To Our Audience," published at https://tenttheatre.missouristate.edu, continues:

The Greene County Clerk, Shane Schoeller, is reminding residents that although the date for the general municipal elections changed to June 2, the deadline for voters to register for the August Statewide Primary election remains the same.

The deadline to register to vote in the August primary election is July 8.  Registering and updating your information can be done on the Greene County Clerk’s website. You can also print the form off and mail it in to the clerk’s office.

The City of West Plains is waiving late fees for people having trouble paying their utility bills.

Because of COVID-19, the City of West Plains says it’s making it a point  to work with individuals and their personal situations.

According to a news release, the city has developed an application where residents can request some help, including on late and delinquency fees, suspension of disconnected services, and unique payment options.

When the application has been received, city staff will call to discuss the application and decide on a custom payment plan.

Missouri lawyers are helping to answer legal questions about COVID-19 and its impact during this uncertain time. 

Missouri.FreeLegalAnswers.org is a virtual legal clinic produced by The Missouri bar and the American Bar Association

Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Clay Goddard, said the stay at home and social distancing measures that are in place seem to be working.

Goddard told Springfield City Council this week that case counts in the county have remained flat.

But he said citizens should continue to stay at home as much as possible.

A vendor error has led to bills being sent by CoxHealth with letterheads for clinics where a patient did not receive treatment.

CoxHealth said in a news release, bills for a variety of CoxHealth clinics were printed on letterhead for Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute, which is a CoxHealth affiliate clinic.  No patient privacy was breached in the error, but Cox officials say there may be confusion for patients when the bills arrive in their mailboxes.

Even through Christmas is still more than eight months away, it will feel like the holidays if you glance at a CoxHealth building after dark soon.

Christmas lights will be turned on at all CoxHealth hospitals in southwest Missouri after volunteer, Marilyn Prosser, suggested it.

Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, says, in this time of uncertainty, the lights signify a sense of joy, hope and faith.  He hopes the lights bring smiles to the community.

They’ll remain on after dark for the foreseeable future. 

Many people taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s have a lifeline that they’ve come to rely on: Caregiver support groups. But those meetings have been canceled due to the coronavirus.

Even though they can't meet in person, some group leaders are staying connected with members in other ways, including meeting online. Mark Applegate leads an Alzheimer’s Association support group in Springfield. He said caregivers still need support during this time.

Demand for chicks is up this spring, and it’s likely due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"When you go to the grocery stores you're finding eggs off the shelves and no chickens to cook, so that's got people with chickens on the mind," said Sean Richardson, a fourth generation owner of Estes Farm Hatchery in Mt. Vernon. 

The major retail stores Estes Farm Hatchery supplies chicks to have extended their buying season, one as long as a month, according to Richardson.

He joked that it’s taken a pandemic to make more people appreciate chickens.

Spring is here and for many, that means it’s time to spend more time outdoors and start gardening again. 

Jennifer Morganthaler, clinical instructor in the department of environmental plant science and natural resources at Missouri State University, offers some helpful gardening tips and advice.

Read the full transcript

As the coronavirus pandemic causes food prices to rise and grocers are working hard to keep some items on the shelves, people are thinking about planting their own gardens this spring.

If you haven’t planted one before, there are some things you should know before you get started.

Paul Armstrong, owner of Smiling Sun Gardens in Forsyth, said cold-season crops can be planted now.  Those include things like beets, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, onions and peas.

As Ozarks Food Harvest prepares to meet the needs of those who’ve lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, a large egg donation is coming this week.

Opal Foods, whose headquarters are in Neosho, will donate 25,200 dozen eggs to the food bank.  That’s 302,400 eggs for Ozarks’ families facing hunger.  The donation will arrive Tuesday, April 7.

The emerald ash borer has been found in three more counties in the state:  Chariton, Layfayette and Moniteau, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.  That brings the total of counties known to have the pest  in the state to 78.

EAB is a small, metallic green beetle native to Asia that attacks all species of ash trees.  It kills more than 99 percent of the trees it attacks.

An executive order signed Monday by Governor Mike Parson is meant to protect both notaries public and those who need their services. 

Executive Order 20-08 suspends a statutory requirement that a notary public must conduct the notarization of official documents while the signer appears in person in front of him or her.

The order, requested by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, allows for the use of audio-video technology to complete the personal appearance requirement. 

Even though in person storytimes at Springfield-Greene County Library branches are canceled and libraries are closed, kids can still hear stories.

The library district will host Storytime and More with the Library Tuesday mornings at 10 on the library’s Facebook page @thelibrary.org.

The series begins Tuesday, April 7, with Library Center children’s librarian, Miss Sarah, reading a story and leading songs and activities that children can do at home while they follow along.

 

The Missouri Farm Bureau and MU Extension are giving farmers steps they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

Missourians are facing uncertain times, and it’s affecting more than just people – it’s also affecting pet adoption.

 

The stay at home order for Missouri went into effect just after midnight and lasts until 11:59 p.m. on April 24.

The order states that anyone who lives in Missouri “shall avoid leaving their homes or places of residence unless necessary.”

The order includes specific guidance for staying home, social distancing, businesses and employees, schools, restaurants, firearm sales and state government buildings.

Greene County health officials on Friday said two recent inviduals who tested positive for COVID-19 visited public places, potentially exposing others to the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department director Clay Goddard said while the risk to individuals who were at these locations remains low, they should monitor their health for symptoms:

In its first round of grants to nonprofit agencies affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks awarded nearly $100,000 on Friday.

The grants are targeted toward agencies serving the region’s most vulnerable citizens throughout the CFO’s 58-county service region, according to a news release from CFO. 

Since public gatherings of 10 or more people are banned in Missouri, many nonprofits have had to cancel fundraisers—while at the same time increasing their services to those in need.

Many people are out of work right now as schools and businesses are shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that means many service animals are unable to work, too.

Around three weeks ago, my dog guide, Payton, and I traveled home to Kansas City for spring break. Since the pandemic, we haven’t left the house other than for walks around the block because of a shelter-in-place order.

The Greene County Commission will close the county’s historic courthouse to the public for 30 days beginning Monday, April 6, according to a news release.

The decision was made to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The offices in the courthouse will continue to function by phone, fax, email or limited appointments.  Citizens who need to cast an absentee vote for the upcoming June 2 election can call the County Clerk’s office to arrange for access through the building’s east side door, facing Robberson Avenue.

Ozarks Food Harvest is working toward a goal of providing one million meals in 90 days to families who are struggling due to the coronavirus.

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