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Missouri News

Johnson County Commissioners wrestled with their new reality on Thursday, saying they’re getting calls from constituents worried about the coronavirus, wondering about the costs to society and the economy from all the business shutdowns and stay-home orders.

By the end of their weekly meeting, they’d directed public health officials to develop a logistics plan as soon as possible, with costs identified, to ramp up coronavirus testing in the county, using private labs if necessary.

Restaurants and bars have closed and gatherings larger than 10 people have been banned. The entire Kansas City metro is under orders to stay at home. Among many profound changes brought by the coronavirus: The interaction between musicians and their audiences at live shows.

"We're shutdown for the foreseeable future, at least two weeks. Could be a month, could be two months, who knows?" said Steve Tulipana, co-owner of RecordBar in downtown Kansas City. "So we're all just trying to figure out ways to keep doing what we do to keep sane, really."

Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City has barred medical staff from wearing face masks continuously through shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic and has threatened disciplinary action if staff defy the order.

In an internal email sent March 19 and obtained by KCUR, hospital leaders cited guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say face masks should solely be used by people who show symptoms of the coronavirus.

Fast-moving viruses come with a cruel twist.

They tend to hammer hardest at people on the front lines of defense, making the rest of us that much more vulnerable.

Truckers, warehouse workers and cargo handlers, all in a vast network, find themselves one endless day after the next getting food, medicine and, yes, toilet paper to customers.

The complex supply logistics of our 21st-century world face a gathering storm even as reliance on those supply chains becomes more critical in the worst public health crisis in generations.

Over the past few weeks, local sites of worship have had to recalibrate how they serve their congregations during a time when coming together can do more harm than good.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced a 30-day stay-at-home order last weekend. The restrictions require people to remain in their homes whenever possible as part of an ongoing effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. There are a number of exceptions to the stay-at-home order, city and county officials said, but religious centers aren’t one of them.

The Kansas City Council passed a $1.7 billion budget Thursday even though the city does not yet know the full extent of the impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the city’s revenues.

“We are in a most serious time,” Councilwoman Teresa Loar said during Thursday’s four-hour debate. “We should just pass a budget, see where we’re at, and then we will take care of things as we go.”

Tens of thousands of people across Kansas and Missouri filed for unemployment benefits as many businesses were ordered to close to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Andrew Turner owns an auction house in the East Bottoms area of Kansas City, Missouri. He had to shut his business down two weeks ago after the city declared a state of emergency. 

“It's just kind of been a nightmare,” said Turner. “There's been zero business, and it's hard to manage with nothing coming in.”

Applications for unemployment benefits are spiking in Missouri. The increase reflects a nationwide unemployment surge and comes as droves of businesses close across the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last week, more than 42,000 Missourians filed for unemployment. That’s more than 10 times as many people as in the previous week. The application numbers rival those of the Great Recession in the late-2000s.

Detonia Weaver has worked as a Schnucks pharmacy technician for two decades, but she’s never seen the stores this busy.

“It's been a zoo, literally a zoo,” Weaver said.

Many grocery store employees in St. Louis are working long hours as shoppers flood stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. The very nature of their jobs puts them in close contact with many people, which increases their chances of becoming infected. But unions and state officials disagree over how best to protect these workers.

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have some St. Louisans asking: How can I help those who need support while I am at home? Even many volunteer opportunities have been canceled.

But there’s still a need for help. According to the state Department of Labor, 42,000 people in Missouri filed for unemployment last week.

BELLEVILLE — The actions Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker took to curb the spread of the coronavirus are having an impact on local organizations trying to ensure accurate census counts in the Metro East.

The orders to close schools and stay at home came at the height of many local outreach efforts only weeks before census day on April 1. 

As COVID-19 begins to spread in the Kansas City area, health care workers and hospitals say they are struggling with a lack of resources as they try to prepare for a potentially huge demand for care.

Citing concerns about shortage of both medical equipment and staff, the Missouri State Medical Association this week sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson urging him to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order.

St. Louis Alderwoman Heather Navarro is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, with the 28th Ward alderwoman talking with St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann and Jason Rosenbaum on how the city of St. Louis is handling the coronavirus.

Navarro represents portions of the Central West End, Skinker-Debaliviere, Hi-Pointe and Wydown-Skinker neighborhoods. She was first elected to the Board of Aldermen in a 2017 special election to succeed Lyda Krewson, who represented the ward before she was elected mayor.

A massive federal coronavirus stimulus package, on the verge of final passage, should bring some welcome relief from the pandemic to the Kansas City metro area, members of the Kansas and Missouri Congressional delegations said Thursday.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the so-called CARES Act on Wednesday night, and the U.S. House is expected to do so quickly on Friday. It then goes to President Trump.

Amid concerns that prisoners face a heightened risk of exposure to the coronavirus, a public interest law firm wants Missouri to release prisoners whose parole has been revoked — in many cases on technicalities.

In an emergency motion filed Wednesday, the Chicago-based MacArthur Justice Center says that prisons and jails are notoriously unsanitary and are not isolated environments, with attorneys, correctional officers, medical personnel and visitors entering and leaving on a daily basis.

With screens dark in its theaters, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. announced Wednesday that it will furlough employees at its Leawood headquarters, too. A spokesman estimated the move will affect some 600 employees.

AMC said in a statement that the closing of its 1,000 AMC and Odeon theaters worldwide "leaves AMC with no revenue, and substantial fixed costs that continue." The company said it is not terminating any corporate employees, but were forced to furlough workers in order to preserve cash and get the company through the COVID-19 crisis.

Segment 1: Kansas City, Kansas, family stuck in Peru

His wife and daughter have been in Lima, Peru, since January, and Brian Copeland felt like spending some vacation time hanging out with them there. He didn't expect he'd end up spending weeks on lockdown in a three-bedroom apartment with six other people.

  • Brian Copeland, Kansas City, Kansas, resident

Segment 2, beginning at 15:59: Kansas public schools, in the days of coronavirus

Segment 1: Kansas City, Kansas, family stuck in Peru

His wife and daughter have been in Lima, Peru, since January, and Brian Copeland felt like spending some vacation time hanging out with them there. He didn't expect he'd end up spending weeks on lockdown in a three-bedroom apartment with six other people.

  • Brian Copeland, Kansas City, Kansas, resident

Segment 2, beginning at 15:59: Kansas public schools, in the days of coronavirus

While many people are now working from home due to the spread of coronavirus, other members of the workforce, like grocery store staff, are still required by employers to go out to perform their regular duties and, in some cases, interact with the public. 

And since people need a way to get to those essential jobs, other sectors, such as transit, become inherently essential, too. Metro Transit has significantly decreased its frequency of weekday service and its ridership is down, but some buses and trains are still running.

The mobile payment company Square was a game-changer. It slashed the costs of taking credit card payments — allowing small businesses and artisans to get into the game without having to pay sizable percentages of their transactions to processors. In retrospect, it seems like a no-brainer.

But in 2009, it was just an idea — one born of frustration when St. Louis glass blower Jim McKelvey lost a sale after being unable to take a credit card payment. After McKelvey shared his idea of a better way with his former intern, Square was born. (It helped, of course, that the intern in question was Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.) 

How Square went from an inkling to an industry disrupter is the subject of McKelvey’s compulsively readable new book, “The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time.”    

Missouri has postponed April municipal elections until June, a decision that could have a long-term impact on metro school districts asking voters to approve bonds for construction projects.

North Kansas City Schools, the state’s third largest school district, needs to replace two elementary schools, build an early childhood center and add on to Staley High School. There’s also a backlog of deferred maintenance at the district’s oldest school buildings. 

Updated at 7 p.m., March 26, with details on SLU Hospital's guidance to employees on protective masks

As hospitals prepare to treat people who become very sick with the COVID-19 disease, doctors and nurses in St. Louis are worried they won't have enough protective gear to keep them safe.

Health care workers say hospitals have directed them to reuse equipment to stretch inventory as global demand during the pandemic has depleted the supply of gear such as N95 masks, which protect people from inhaling the virus.

Doctors and nurses say they have a duty to treat patients on the front lines, but they want the government and hospitals to make sure they’re protected while they’re doing their jobs.

At the beginning of last week, when St. Charles County had capped social gatherings at just 50 people to slow the spread of coronavirus, Megan Prescott was still considering trying to make her wedding work. 

She initially thought about spreading her 181 guests across different buildings at her wedding venue, the Stone House of St. Charles, to work around the limit. Then, as it became obvious that the restrictions might become even tighter, she decided to move her wedding scheduled for Saturday to a different date. 

On Chess: Classy Game Or Cutthroat Competition?

Mar 26, 2020

Among the general public, chess has a reputation for being more refined and classy than other sports.

This seemingly positive reputation actually has a negative effect on chess. It leaves people with the impression that chess is too boring and sophisticated for the average person to enjoy.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday he expects coronavirus cases to reach their peak in the region in late April — a surge that could overwhelm the hospital system. 

Page talked to St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue on the Politically Speaking podcast remotely Wednesday via Zoom phone conferencing. Below are edited excerpts from that conversation.

FBI officials say a man they shot and killed Tuesday in Belton was the suspect in a "long-running domestic terrorism investigation" who planned to attack a Kansas City-area hospital with a car bomb.

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, the bureau's Kansas City office wrote that Timothy Wilson, 36, had been "actively planning to commit an act of domestic terrorism" over several months, and had considered several targets before settling on an area hospital.

On Wednesday, the first really gorgeous spring afternoon of the year, a couple dozen people were playing pickleball at Meadowbrook Park at 91st and Nall in Johnson County, Kansas.

That was until two Prairie Village police officers showed up to tell the players they were violating the emergency order limiting gatherings to no more than ten people. 

On Wednesday, the first really gorgeous afternoon of the year, a couple dozen people were playing pickleball at Meadowbrook Park at 91st and Nall.

That was until two Prairie Village police officers showed up to tell the players they were violating the emergency order limiting gatherings to no more than ten people.

It wasn’t quite a bust but the officers came armed with copies of the emergency order issued by the county health department last Saturday.

The officers said while the order is enforceable they were there to “educate” people.

This spring, the National Weather Service is predicting moderate, not major, flooding.

Every two weeks, a new flooding outlook is published, which takes into account water levels, soil moisture and snow melting. 

FORT LEONARD WOOD — Maj. Gen. Donna Martin returned to Facebook on Wednesday in what was billed as a virtual town hall meeting to praise the procedures in place to keep the coronavirus in check.

The briefing came days after the first confirmed case of the virus at the installation in Missouri’s Ozarks that has tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians coming through every year.

Martin said the infected soldier was on leave in New York before the Department of Defense banned such travel. The soldier returned to base, followed protocol and reported for a medical check.