Mar 23, 2020 12:25 AM

Missouri virus cases top 128 including 5 tied to preschool

Posted Mar 23, 2020 12:25 AM

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri rose by 38 Sunday night, including at least five cases tied to one suburban St. Louis preschool and evidence of community transmission in one county.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, was up to 128, according to statistics released by state and county health officials, an increase from 75 on Saturday. The new cases reported in a release Sunday night by the St. Louis County Health Department indicated that one of the new cases involved someone between the ages of 10 and 19.

Health officials also said that in St. Louis County, where 55 cases have been confirmed, there is evidence of “community-spread," where it's not clear how an infected person contracted the virus and its origin can't be traced.

At least five cases are tied to Temple Israel's preschool in Creve Coeur. The synagogue said in a statement late Saturday that a total of four teachers have now tested positive for COVID-19. A parent of a child at the preschool has also tested positive.

All five are either recovering at home or are no longer symptomatic, according to the synagogue.

The synagogue noted that the parent attended Temple Israel's Purim Carnival on March 8. The event celebrates the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre in ancient Persia.

The synagogue closed its schools for the remainder of the academic year, which was scheduled to end May 15.

Anheuser-Busch employees will be making hand sanitizer in addition to Budweiser, Bud Light and other beers. The company said on Twitter that it will use its supply and logistics network to begin producing and distributing bottles of sanitizer “to accommodate the growing needs across the United States.”

The St. Louis Blues said a relative of a team employee tested positive and is in isolation with family. The hockey team said all Blues staff who may have had contact with the employee have been notified.

“As a result of this positive case, all members of the Blues, as previously directed, are requested to remain isolated, to monitor their health and to seek advice from our team’s medical staff,” the team statement read.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

A state representative with the virus, Democrat Joe Runions of Grandview, said in a statement that his condition is improving but progress is slow. He also said his doctors are “deeply concerned” about the potential shortage of supplies.

“Although I remain hospitalized, I am getting better, but it will be a long recovery," Runions said. “The most important thing to me right now is for the doctors, nurses and hospitals in our state to get all of the support and supplies they need as they work to treat this illness."

St. Louis and St. Louis County will be under mandatory stay-at-home orders, effective Monday, and a similar order in the Kansas City area starts Tuesday. Illinois, New York and California are implementing statewide stay-at-home orders, calling on residents to remain in their homes unless they have vital reasons to go out.

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O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri rose to 90 Sunday, including at least five cases tied to one suburban St. Louis preschool

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is up from 75 on Saturday, according to the state health department. Three people have died in Missouri, one each in Boone, Jackson and St. Louis counties.

At least five cases are tied to Temple Israel's preschool in Creve Coeur. The synagogue said in a statement late Saturday that a total of four teachers have now tested positive for COVID-19. A parent of a child at the preschool has also tested positive.

All five are either recovering at home or are no longer symptomatic, according to the synagogue.

The synagogue noted that the parent attended Temple Israel's Purim Carnival on March 8. The event celebrates the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre in ancient Persia.

The synagogue closed its schools for the remainder of the academic year, which was scheduled to end May 15.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

St. Louis and St. Louis County authorities on Saturday announced mandatory stay-at-home orders, effective Monday. Kansas City officials followed later Saturday with a similar order. The order in Kansas City and surrounding areas is set to begin Tuesday.

Illinois, New York and California are implementing statewide stay-at-home orders, calling on residents to remain in their homes unless they have vital reasons to go out.

The stay-at-home rules were announced as Missouri Gov. Mike Parson detailed other measures to help residents stay in their homes, including extending driver's license and vehicle registration expirations by two months, loosening licensing and other regulations for child care services, increasing food stamp allotments for some families and pushing back state income tax filing requirements to July 15 to match postponed federal deadline.

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Mar 23, 2020 12:25 AM
Virus outbreak poses massive challenges for US charities
The pandemic stopped the annual Girl Scout cookie sale. Above is Alliance, NE councilwomen Annora Bentley with Girl Scouts in Box Butte County. 

NEW YORK (AP)— With its global scope and its staying power, the coronavirus outbreak poses unprecedented challenges for charities and nonprofit groups that rely on donations.

The American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to the cancellation of nearly 2,700 blood drives. The Girl Scouts' annual cookie sale — vital to the group's finances — has been disrupted by a top-level plea to halt in-person sales.

And a 21-member coalition of major nonprofits is pleading with Congress to allocate $60 billion so charities can keep their staff on the job and ramp up assistance programs.

The CEO of one of those groups, Brian Gallagher of United Way Worldwide, has worked with the charity since 1981, engaging in its response to the 9/11 attacks, the Ebola threat, Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.

He said the COVID-19 outbreak has no parallel: "It's as if a natural disaster is hitting in slow motion just about every country on Earth."

Already, foundations and other major donors have contributed more than $1.9 billion to combat the outbreak, according to Candid, a New York-based nonprofit that tracks philanthropic giving.

The overall total, including donations from individuals, is surely far higher. Yet nonprofit leaders fear that the needs arising from the outbreak will outstrip even the possibility of massive future giving, let alone a possible drop in giving if a recession takes hold.

“Even if we get this virus under control, there will be several months of recovery for many people,” said Patricia McIlreavy, president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. “Business will have closed, many families will have exhausted every reserve.”

Among the major charities bracing for future challenges is the Salvation Army, which says it annually receives about $2 billion in public support to serve about 23 million people living in poverty.

“We expect that service number to rise exponentially in the coming months," requiring "tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to support our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Dale Bannon, the faith-based organization’s community relations and development secretary.”

He said the Salvation Army, like many other charities, has been forced to cancel numerous fundraising events because of the outbreak. It is now focusing on online fundraising operations.

Canceled blood drives have been devastating to the American Red Cross, which provides about 40% of the nation’s blood supply.

In a statement Wednesday, the organization estimated that there have been 86,000 fewer blood donations in recent weeks because of the wave of blood drive cancellations at workplaces, colleges and other venues as people were told to work or study from home and practice social distancing.

Patients being treated in hospitals for the coronavirus do not generally need blood transfusions, but the worsening blood shortage could affect surgery and cancer patients and victims of car accidents.

Anticipating that blood drive cancellations will continue, the Red Cross pleaded for potential donors to support drives that do take place or for donors to visit its blood-donation facilities.

The group outlined additional safety precautions being taken, including checking the temperature of staff and donors before they enter locations and requiring staff to change gloves each time they interact with a different donor.

For the Girl Scouts of the USA, calling for a halt to in-person cookie sales was momentous, given that the sales net roughly $800 million annually and are the core of the organization’s fundraising.

Girls who had been selling cookies at booths outside stores and other locations were asked to focus on online sales instead.

“The risk of interaction with large crowds is just too great,” said the Girl Scouts’ CEO, Sylvia Acevedo.

The Girl Scouts are asking their corporate supporters to consider making bulk cookie purchases. A spokeswoman, Valerie Geiss, said it would be several months before the financial outcome of the sales campaign is known.

Many local Girl Scout gatherings across the country have been suspended, though some units are meeting online. The Washington-based Girl Scouts of Nation’s Capital said it will be hosting more than 40 “virtual troop meetings” next week, potentially serving about 5,000 girls.

The Girl Scouts were among the 21 nonprofits appealing to congress on Thursday for the $60 billion infusion of support for charitable organizations.

Their appeal said America’s charities employ 12 million workers, many of them working on the front lines of the coronavirus response.

“The financial impact of the crisis has put the very survival of many essential service providers at risk,” said Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Charities are our society’s shock absorber when crisis hits.”

At the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, McIlreavy says there has been a surge of requests from would-be donors seeking guidance on how to give effectively in response to the pandemic.

‘‘Folks just want to know the money is going somewhere where it's actually going to help someone,” she said.

Her center urges donors to be wary of misinformation and do thorough research of charities before making gifts. It identifies key areas that could interest donors: urgent medical response needs, long-term medical research and assistance to vulnerable people in the U.S. or abroad.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

For the United Way, a current priority is to strengthen and expand the 211 network that helps people who call the number to connect with providers of urgently needed social services.

Gallagher said 211 specialists have answered about 12 million requests annually, and he predicts there will be an additional 200,000 calls per day in coming weeks because of the outbreak.

Looking broadly, Gallagher believes there will be a surge in charitable giving for the next few months, and then a downturn as a weak economy takes a toll.

Big charities like United Way will get through it, Gallagher said. “The smaller nonprofits — houses of worship, soup kitchens — they will struggle."