Mar 24, 2020 8:00 AM

Missouri woman in her 30s, man in his 70s die from coronavirus

Posted Mar 24, 2020 8:00 AM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two St. Louis-area residents are the fourth and fifth patients in Missouri to die of an illness related to the new coronavirus, local health officials announced Monday.

A St. Louis woman in her 30s died from COVID-19, and the death of a St. Charles County man in his 70s also was reported Monday.

St. Charles County officials released no other information on their case, Dr. Fredrick Echols, St. Louis health director, said his staff is still trying to figure out how the local woman got the disease caused by the coronavirus. Her relative youth “is a cause for concern for us,” Echols said at a news conference. He said the woman was hospitalized on Sunday, though he declined to provide further personal details about her.

The woman hadn't recently traveled and health officials were still trying to determine how she got the disease, though Echols said it was too early to consider it a case of community spread, in which it's not clear how an infected person contracted the virus and its origin can't be traced.

The announcement came hours before a stay-at-home edict was to take effect for the combined 1.3 million residents of St. Louis city and county.

“This should be a wake-up call for all of us, particularly anyone who may still question whether or not this is a real thing,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said at the news conference.

Similar stay-at-home orders were set to take effect Tuesday in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. Kansas City officials said enforcement of the order won’t be heavy-handed, unless it proves necessary.

“We will not be stopping people to ask for papers if you are going to work or stopping cars and asking where they are going and how you are getting there. We are asking people to have civic responsibility and not depend only on enforcement,” said Kansas City's police chief, Rick Smith. He said traffic violators will face a good chance of being pulled over because police “don’t want it to become a free-for-all out there.”

Another large Missouri county also announced stay-at-home orders. The order in Jefferson County, part of the St. Louis metropolitan area, was to take effect at midnight on Monday and last through April 23.

Statewide, Republican Gov. Mike Parson banned gatherings of more than 10, but he has declined to require people to stay at home despite pressure from some medical leaders.

On Monday he announced that the state Capitol in Jefferson City and other state buildings will be closed to everyone but essential personnel, effective Tuesday.

He also signed an executive order that temporarily suspended local rules banning restaurants from selling “unprepared food" to the public. Parson said the goal was to aid struggling restaurants, eliminate food waste and help meet increased demand.

“Many of you have seen bare grocery store shelves," Parson said. “I want to assure you, this is a demand issue, not a supply issue. Our food supply remains strong.”

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.

Missouri's health department on Monday said 183 people have confirmed cases of the virus, up from 106 a day earlier. The state's other three COVID-19 deaths were reported last week in Boone, Jackson and St. Louis counties.

Among the new cases was an inmate at the Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in St. Joseph, according to a Monday statement from the Missouri Department of Corrections. The unidentified inmate was hospitalized Thursday and is the first inmate in the Missouri state prison system to test positive for COVID-19.

Among the new cases were four at an assisted-living center in Springfield. The city's health director, Clay Goddard, said residents and staff are being monitored to watch for potential additional cases.

Goddard had a simple message for those who want to help: Don’t go out.

“It’s going to sound very counter-intuitive to you as a citizen, but as much as possible we need everyone to do nothing right now,” Goddard said at a news conference. “That means you stay at home.”

Kansas City's school district announced that one of its staff members contracted the disease. The district extended school closures through April 24.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Superintendent Mark Bedell said in a statement.

Efforts to keep the public safe proved challenging. The Kansas City International Airport said several hand sanitizer dispensers had been ripped off the wall in restrooms and that it won't be able to purchase replacements for months

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O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis woman in her 30s died from COVID-19, and officials said Monday that they are still trying to figure out how she got the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The death was the fourth in Missouri from COVID-19, and her relative youth “is a cause for concern for us,” Dr. Fredrick Echols, the city's health director, said at a news conference. He said the woman was hospitalized on Sunday, though he declined to provide further personal details about her.

The woman hadn't recently traveled and health officials were still trying to determine how she got the disease, though Echols said it was too early to consider it a case of community spread, in which it's not clear how an infected person contracted the virus and its origin can't be traced.

The announcement came hours before a stay-at-home edict was to take effect for the combined 1.3 million residents of St. Louis city and county.

“This should be a wake-up call for all of us, particularly anyone who may still question whether or not this is a real thing,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said at the news conference.

Similar stay-at-home orders were set to take effect Tuesday in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. Kansas City officials said enforcement of the order won’t be heavy-handed, unless it proves necessary.

“We will not be stopping people to ask for papers if you are going to work or stopping cars and asking where they are going and how you are getting there. We are asking people to have civic responsibility and not depend only on enforcement,” said Kansas City's police chief, Rick Smith. He said traffic violators will face a good chance of being pulled over because police “don’t want it to become a free-for-all out there.”

Another large Missouri county also announced stay-at-home orders. The order in Jefferson County, part of the St. Louis metropolitan area, was to take effect at midnight on Monday and last through April 23.

Statewide, Republican Gov. Mike Parson banned gatherings of more than 10, but he has declined to require people to stay at home despite pressure from some medical leaders.

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.

Missouri's health department on Monday said 183 people have confirmed cases of the virus, up from 106 a day earlier. The state's other three COVID-19 deaths were reported last week in Boone, Jackson and St. Louis counties.

Among the new cases were four at an assisted-living center in Springfield. The city's health director, Clay Goddard, said residents and staff are being monitored to watch for potential additional cases.

Goddard had a simple message for those who want to help: Don’t go out.

“It’s going to sound very counter-intuitive to you as a citizen, but as much as possible we need everyone to do nothing right now,” Goddard said at a news conference. “That means you stay at home.”

Kansas City's school district announced that one of its staff members contracted the disease. The district extended school closures through April 24.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Superintendent Mark Bedell said in a statement.

Efforts to keep the public safe proved challenging. The Kansas City International Airport said several hand sanitizer dispensers had been ripped off the wall in restrooms and that it won't be able to purchase replacements for months.

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Continue Reading St Joseph Post
Mar 24, 2020 8:00 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."