CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield announced Saturday evening that no visitors will be allowed in hospitals for either health system in southwest Missouri beginning Monday, March 23, with few exceptions.

A Missouri State University student has tested positive for COVID-19 in Boone County, Missouri, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

The student was last in southwest Missouri on March 14, on which day the student left town and has not been back since, according to a health department news release.

Health officials provided the following information Saturday:

A person who had been identified as having COVID-19 in Christian County Wednesday actually lives on the other side of the border—in Greene County.  That means Greene County now has seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, and Christian County has one.

Nixa’s Mayor has banned public gatherings of 10 or more people in a single space or room.  Mayor Brian Steele made the decision after two cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Christian County.

The order doesn’t include funeral homes, educational institutions, daycare facilities, places of employment, grocery stores and retail stores. 

Restaurants are still allowed to offer food delivery, pickup and drive-thru services.

CoxHealth will begin offering two weeks of paid time off to employees in case they’re unable to work due to COVID-19 confirmation or exposure.

A local bank has donated several thousand dollars toward a childcare program that’s being set up in Springfield for children of healthcare workers. 

Central Bank, Central Trust Company and the Ball Foundation have pledged the first $20,000 toward an effort to raise money for the service that is being planned at the Discovery Center of Springfield.

The Branson Board of Aldermen passed has passed a bill Thursday that’s designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.  The ordinance prohibits planned or spontaneous events with 10 or more people.  It also prohibits businesses from exceeding 25% of their occupant load in enclosed public places.  Daycares and medical facilities are exempt.

Violators can face up to 90 days in jail or up to a $500 fine.  The ordinance will sunset on May 15.

In this segment of Engaging the Community, MSU President Clif Smart joins KSMU's Jennifer Moore by phone to update the community on MSU's new Emergency Leave policy and plans for faculty and staff to work remotely.

You can hear the program by clicking the "Play" button below:

Update:  The Springfield Police Department said that, "In light of recent threats and in the interest of public health and safety, the burial ceremony for fallen Springfield Police Officer Christopher Walsh will no longer be open to the general public. All members of the public will be turned away at the cemetery." 

Greene County residents returning from spring break trips are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said returning travelers are advised to stay home, avoid contact with others and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.  If they start to show symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s office says he is working with the State Department to bring home dozens of Missourians stranded internationally in the midst of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

According to a release from Hawley’s office, the Senator is in touch with Missouri families and groups of travelers -- including a church group – who are stranded in Guatemala, Honduras, the Philippines, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Peru.

Community Blood Center of the Ozarks blood drives continue to be canceled due to the coronavirus, and that has CBCO administrators concerned.

“As of Thursday morning, 54 upcoming blood drives had been cancelled, resulting in the potential loss of more than 2000 donations,” said Chris Pilgrim, media relations representative for the CBCO, "and, so, we're going to be dealing with this for a series of weeks."

They're asking those who are healthy and feeling well  to give blood as soon as possible to help the blood center "get through what could be a real crisis," he said.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has announced the fifth and sixth confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greene County.

The health department said on Thursday morning it's notifying people who have had close contact with the patients and who should be in quarantine.  

The fifth case is a household contact of an earlier confirmed case in the county, according to health officials. And the sixth case had a domestic travel history to an impacted area. Both had been voluntarily self-quarantining.

Ozarks Food Harvest is preparing for an increased demand for food as mandates to control the coronavirus continue.   The food bank is purchasing additional food to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Area restaurants and bars in Greene County are closed to dine in customers for a few weeks.  And, while some of them are still offering pickup service, employees are facing decreased hours or unemployment.  Other area businesses are closed temporarily due to concerns about the virus, including Battlefield Mall.

In this episode, Dave talks with Damon Bassett, professor of geology at Missouri State University, about the process of fossilization and DNA extraction research.

Copyright 2020 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

Next on KSMU, as part of our ongoing series Making A Difference, produced in cooperation with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, we present another Conversation on Collaboration. And today, the importance of working well with others when it comes to Placemaking, which Wikipedia defines as a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces, capitalizing on a local community's, assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of promoting people’s health, happiness and well-being... Placemaking.

Municipal elections that were scheduled for April in Missouri are being postponed.

Governor Parson Wednesday signed Executive Order 20-03, which orders all Missouri municipal elections previously scheduled for April 7 to be postponed to June 2.

The Executive Order declares that ballots already printed for the April 7 election may be used at the postponed date of June 2. Voters who have reached the age of 18 by April 7 will be allowed to cast a ballot.

All screening mammograms at CoxHealth will be postponed starting today for 30 days.  In a news release, the health system said it’s an effort to practice social distancing while also maintaining time sensitive clinical services.

Non-screening breast exams such as diagnostic mammograms, follow-up appointments and biopsies, will continue as scheduled and ordered.

Patients who have a mammogram scheduled in the coming weeks will be contacted to cancel and reschedule.

Nixa City Council has declared an emergency during an emergency meeting Wednesday.  It gives power to the Mayor to make orders to restrict public gatherings and enact regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A violation of an order of the Mayor would be considered a violation of city ordinance, punishable by fine. As of 6pm on March 18th, the Mayor had not issued any order restricting public gatherings or operation of any businesses.

Christian County has its first two cases of COVID-19.  The Christian County Health Department says it received notification Wednesday (3/18) from the MO Dept. of Health and Senior Services of the two cases. 

According to the health department, as a part of their effort to protect the health of their citizens a complete follow up investigation has been started to identify any increased risk these cases might have presented to the public.  More information will be released as it becomes available.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a patient with COVID-19 had lunch at Big Biscuit on South Campbell on March 16, based on initial information from local health officials. The patient actually had lunch at that location on March 13, according to officials, and this article has been updated to reflect that. It has also been updated to include a response from a local restaurant.

Where most people see the COVID-19 pandemic as a national emergency, scammers are using the opportunity to prey on others--and some are targeting the elderly.

Imagine getting a great deal for a vacation overseas from a travel website. You make a down payment, but the “agency” sends a message saying the trip has been postponed. Eventually, they tell you that due to the coronavirus, they are not issuing any refunds. This is one of many scams reported to the Better Business Bureau in recent weeks.

Elective surgeries could be impacted in Springfield due to the new coronavirus.  According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, as CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield prepare to serve patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the health systems have decided to evaluate and potentially postpone some elective surgical procedures that are not urgent.

Patients whose procedures are affected will be notified as soon as possible. Patients should assume that their procedures will continue as scheduled unless told otherwise.

Efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Ozarks have impacted the area’s blood supply.

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks said, since last week, more than a dozen scheduled blood drives have been postponed or cancelled.

The blood center is urging those who are healthy to continue to donate.  The CBCO is the sole supplier of blood and plasma to patients at more than 40 area healthcare facilities. 

According to the CBCO, they’ve increased their already stringent standards to protect the health of donors and employees.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the state is currently working with the University of Missouri to expand testing for COVID-19. According to his office, these efforts “should increase testing capabilities by thousands across the state.”

Mercy Hospital recently set up a drive-thru testing site in Chesterfield, and the University of Missouri Health Care is working to implement drive-thru testing in Columbia.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department opened drive-thru testing in Springfield on Monday for anyone referred by a physician.

Describing the decision as "painful," leaders in Springfield and Greene County ordered Tuesday that all businesses “offering entertainment, amusement, and recreation” be closed to the public until April 1 in the interest of public health.  Bars, taverns, or restaurants in Greene County have also been ordered closed to dine-in services as officials try to stem the spread of COVID-19;  those food and drink establishments may only offer delivery, pickup and drive–thru services for now.

Missouri State University officials have extended Spring Break for students; beginning March 30, classes that were previously taught in-person will be taught through alternative means.

MSU President Clif Smart told reporters Tuesday this will give faculty time to prepare.

“We probably have close to 30 percent of our faculty who have not taught online,” he said.

This week and next week, those faculty members will receive training that will allow them to teach via Blackboard, Zoom, and other means.

The Gillioz Theatre has announced on their website that the theater "always prioritizes the safety and security of its audiences, artists and staff, and this includes health safety. In the wake of concerns around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting many parts of the U.S., the Gillioz will cease events until May 1st, 2020." Here is a list of Gillioz events currently affected:

Lukas Nelson – 3/22 (postponed, new date to be announced)

Bert Kreischer – 3/26 (rescheduled, new date 7/31/20)

Colter Wall – 3/27 (rescheduled, new date 12/10/20)

As with virtually every other arts organization and/or venue, Missouri State University's Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts has had to adjust their schedule of upcoming events. According to an update on the Hall's web page, "In response to concerns of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and a declaration of a Missouri and federal emergency, our top priority is protecting the health and well-being of our patrons, staff, volunteers, students, and touring artists." Here is their current list of cancellations:

Due to health concerns surrounding the current coronavirus pandemic, Music Monday of the Ozarks has decided to cancel their upcoming monthly event on April 6th at the Elks Club in Springfield featuring a history of local songwriter Ronnie Self.   Chris Albert of Music Monday told KSMU it has been "cancelled until a later date.  We at Music Monday hope everyone will stay safe and healthy through these trying times."