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Greene and Christian Counties are now under stay-at-home orders.  They went into effect just after midnight.

Citizens should stay at home with a few exceptions.  Those include going to a job that’s deemed essential, getting medical care or essential items such as medicine and groceries and caring for loved ones.  Getting out to exercise is allowed, but you need to maintain a six-foot distance from others.

The order goes through 11:59 p.m. on April 24 in Christian County.  In Greene County, it's in effect for 30 days.

Update 1:00 p.m. Thursday, March 26:   a fifth resident at the assisted living facility has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in the hospital, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

 

Branson’s Parks and Recreation Department will deliver essential items to city residents who are in the high-risk group for coronavirus.

 

Artists and performers are doing what they can to provide some relief during a time saturated with heavy events. For over a decade the Springfield-based late night show “The Mystery Hour” has recorded in front of live audiences, hosted by Jeff Houghton. Now, he’s hosting the show from home every weeknight. 

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Jeff Houghton has begun streaming daily, live episodes on Facebook from his garage, which he calls “Desperation Studios.”

 

Springfield police officers are changing how they operate as COVID-19 spreads in the city. 

As some nonprofits begin to feel the financial impact of so many closures and increased needs due to COVID-19, The Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) is stepping up to help with grants.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all Evangel University campus activities have been canceled for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, including the theatre production that was scheduled to open this week, “Little Women: The Musical.” The six performances have been postponed by Evangel’s Humanities Department until the Fall 2020 semester “if campus operations have returned to normal by that time,” said  Paul K. Logsdon, Evangel’s Director of Public Relations and Publications. “Details are still being worked out.”

According to Joshua Best, Development & Marketing Coordinator at the Springfield Art Museum, the Museum will remain closed to the public until Tuesday, April 28, 2020 "in response to the 30 day Stay-At-Home order issued by the City of Springfield and Greene County on March 24, 2020.

"This is a further attempt," says  Best, "to assist in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The Museum will reassess the status of public operations on April 28."

Several schools in southwest Missouri, including Springfield, are staying closed through April 24.
 
SPS says the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the region “requires school districts to be flexible and make decisions that are in the best interest of public health.”
 
Area schools that will be closed through April 24 are:  Ash Grove, Blue Eye, Branson, Clever, Fair Grove, Fordland, Forsyth, Hollister, Kirbyville, Logan-Rogersville, Marionville, Mark Twain, Marshfield, Nixa, Ozark, Reeds Spring, Republic, Sparta, Springfield, Strafford, Taneyville,

As hospitals in Italy and other hard-hit places say they've run out of space for COVID-19 patients, Cox South hospital in Springfield announced Wednesday that it's devoting an entire, new floor to patients who  may need ventilator support due to the respiratory illness.

Greene County has ordered its citizens to stay at home for 30 days, except for essential activities. Violations of the order will be considered a misdemeanor.

This comes as local hospital executives and doctors warn that Springfield’s hospitals could be overrun with cases of COVID-19 if they don’t take these extraordinary measures now.

Missourians who receive Food Stamps and whose certifications are due in March, April or May, will have their benefits extended.

The Department of Social Services has been granted a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service to extend SNAP certification periods by six months.  That will prevent Food Stamp benefits from ending during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to DSS.

The department is also waiving all work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration.

The first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Joplin has been confirmed.  To protect the patient’s right to privacy, identifying information will not be provided, according to the Joplin Health Department. As part of the regular practice of disease investigation, the health department will notify people who have had contact with the patient. This does not appear to be a travel-related case, health official said.

Stricter measures to control the coronavirus are now in place in Branson.  In an emergency special meeting Monday, the Board of Aldermen voted to restrict non-essential business operations, public and social gathering and forcing social distancing by individuals. 

The vote was five to one on the first reading and five to one on the second and final reading.  Alderman Kevin McConnell was the lone ‘no’ vote both times.

Dickerson Park Zoo wants everyone to feel connected to its animals even though the facility is closed due to the coronavirus.

The zoo is encouraging kids and adults to write letters to zoo animals. Zoo spokeswoman, Joey Powell, says as many letters as possible will be shared with the animal recipient through Facebook videos.

All eyes in the country are turning to hospitals, as men and women in scrubs prepare to receive patients with the most severe cases of COVID-19.  KSMU’s Jennifer Moore interviewed the CEO of CoxHealth, Steve Edwards, on equipment and supplies – and what his hospital needs from the community right now.  

Listen to the interview below.

Edwards oversees a health care system with an estimated 12,500 employees. And they are essentially suiting up for a battle against a highly contagious, peculiar new virus. But these warriors may need a little more armor. 

 

As employees face uncertainty with businesses hit by restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, some industries are looking to hire workers for “essential” services.

The City of Springfield and Greene County are working on stricter measures to control COVID-19.  Those are expected to be announced Tuesday, according to local government officials.   This comes after the Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced the county’s first death from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Health department director, Clay Goddard, said one of four Springfield assisted living facility residents who tested positive for COVID-19 passed away Monday.  The person was a woman in her 80s who lived at Morningside of Springfield Assisted Living.

Parks and trails operated and maintained by Branson Parks and Recreation are now closed to the public.  Branson Parks and the City of Branson made the decision to assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release.

City and Park officials called it a difficult decision.  They said it was made as “the City of Branson continues to try to do their part to assist public health care officials in preventing potential exposure to this dangerous virus.”

Update 7:00 p.m. Monday, March 23:   Springfield and Greene County officials have confirmed that one person from the assisted living facility mentioned in this story has died from COVID-19.

Four cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in a Springfield assisted care facility, local health officials announced Monday. The assisted living facility is Morningside of Springfield East, according to Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director, Clay Goddard.

Springfield Expert Discusses Common Recycling Myths

Mar 23, 2020

League of Women Voter’s host Lynn Howerton speaks with Angie Snyder, planner with Ozarks Headwaters Recycling and Materials management District,

Today’s discussion explores the common myths and recommendations related to recycling.

 

Copyright 2020 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

A private blessing was held Monday morning for a forward triage facility at Mercy Hospital Springfield. 

The new facility is located just outside the hospital’s north emergency entrance.  It opened right after the blessing and is being used to quickly provide help and masks for those who think they might have COVID-19, according to hospital officials.

Mercy is postponing all non-urgent imaging services in anticipation of a possible influx of COVID-19 patients, according to hospital officials.

Starting today these services will be postponed:

Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Clay Goddard, is encouraging citizens to stay home if at all possible as city and county officials decide what steps to take next.

In a message sent Monday, Goddard said they’re “actively in conversations with local and area county officials to map out” the next step.

There’s already a county-wide order, according to Goddard, which closely mirrors shelter in place orders that went into effect Saturday in St. Louis and Kansas City.

CoxHealth’s Board of Directors has established a $1 million fund to help CoxHealth employees as they help care for the community.

According to CoxHealth, the Employee Heroes Fund “will be used to assist employees in offsetting the situations created by their time and service during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Employees may apply for help for things like childcare, internet service to keep children connected to school, meal support, accommodations if they are required to stay close to the hospital, medications or other needs directly related to this crisis.  

Closures due to the coronavirus will now include park playgrounds and play equipment in Greene County.

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board is closing those and any high-density gathering areas until further notice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Kids across the Springfield Public Schools district can pick up free meals from local schools Monday to Friday, starting Monday, March 23.  Those free, "grab-and-go" meals are for SPS kids ages 18 and younger, and they're available for curbside pickup at every school in the distric

One small town in the Ozarks has three buses and one van in its public transportation fleet. 

Starting Monday, the City of West Plains is changing up its route to make sure senior citizens can get to the hospital, pharmacy and grocery store if needed—while keeping more physical distance between them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

The transit system is limiting passengers to 10 people per bus and sanitizing before each ride.

Anxiety is high right now as the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S.  People are avoiding close contact with one another, and that can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Dr. C.J. Davis, president and CEO of Burrell Behavioral Health, said at a press briefing Friday those feelings are normal.  “We’re anticipating the worst…we’re living with fear in the background every single day.”

Update:  The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is reporting 14 cases of COVID-19 in Greene County.  There are three other confirmed cases in the Ozarks:  One each in Camden, Christian and Jasper Counties.

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