Mar 25, 2020 10:30 AM

Number of Missouri coronavirus cases tops 250, 8 Deaths

Posted Mar 25, 2020 10:30 AM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The number of positive coronavirus cases in Missouri has increased to more than 250 and state health officials said the rise is due partly to better access to testing.

Eight deaths from the virus have been reported, including three women who lived at an assisted-living center in Springfield. A fourth resident of the Morningside East home is hospitalized.

State health officials reported 255 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, an increase from 183 on Monday. With several health care centers and systems operating mobile testing sites, the state now lists 28 places offering testing.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

St. Louis County has the most cases, with 100. Currently, 28 of the state's 114 counties has reported at least one confirmed case. The 20-29 age group has reported the most cases, with 60, followed by 51 cases in the 50-59 age group, according to health department statistics.

Gov. Mike Parson has banned all gatherings of more than 10 people but was resisting pressure to take stronger measures. On Tuesday, Parson said issuing a statewide stay-at-home order would devastate the state's economy but he said he could change his mind if he becomes convinced it is necessary.

---------

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two more residents of a southwest Missouri assisted-living center have died from the coronavirus, bringing the number of deaths in the state to eight.

The deaths of the two women, one in her 70s and one in her 90s, were announced Tuesday by Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. They were both residents of Morningside East of Springfield. The death of another resident, in her 80s, was announced late Monday.

A fourth women who also lives at the home remains hospitalized.

The center is among 268 senior living communities in 32 states operated by Five Star Senior Living Inc., based in Newton, Massachusetts. A Five Star spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Five Star said in a statement on its website that it has implemented several changes in response to the coronavirus crisis: Restricting all non-essential visitors, screening employees and essential visitors upon entry, calling off non-medical resident outings and other social events, as well as keeping residents separated.

Health officials announced the death of a woman in her 30s in St. Louis and a man in his 70s in St. Charles County on Monday. Three other deaths, in Boone, St. Louis and Jackson counties, were announced last week.

The state health department reported 255 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, up from 183 on Monday.

The health department said the rise in confirmed cases was partly attributable to the increasing access to testing. With several health care centers and systems operating mobile testing sites, the state now lists 28 places offering testing.

Greene and Boone counties on Tuesday joined the growing list of jurisdictions requiring residents to stay at home, joining St. Louis city and St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Jackson, Clay and Buchanan counties.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson last week ordered an end to gatherings of more than 10 people but has resisted calls to take further action to limit the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, he defended that decision, saying a statewide stay-at-home order would devastate the economy. But said he'll continue to evaluate the situation and might change his mind later.

“When you start talking about shutting the state down for 30 days, 60 days or 90 days, the effects that has on the everyday people are dramatic," Parson said. "That means businesses will close, people will lose their jobs, (and) the economy will be in worse shape than ever.”

Missouri has received some personal protective equipment for free from the national strategic stockpile but also is spending about $20 million of state funds on supplies needed by health care workers and emergency responders, state Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell said Tuesday.

The state placed a $10 million order this week for nearly 4.3 million N95 respirator masks, O’Connell said. Among other things, the state ordered 335,000 bottles of hand sanitizer at a cost of $700,000; 95,000 surgical masks for $190,000; and 61,000 goggles for $117,000, he said.

Missouri lawmakers haven’t approved a specific budget appropriation for coronavirus efforts, and the Capitol is shut down for at least the next two weeks. But O’Connell said the state has used $2.3 million from its disaster fund and is tapping $18 million from existing budgets in several departments.

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

Some places have gone to extreme measures. In Hannibal, where Samuel Clemens grew up and which is known for its Mark Twain sites, the city removed or roped off all playground equipment and removed picnic tables from parks.

State officials took action preventing Food Stamp benefits from ending during the pandemic, and waived work requirements through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration.

--------

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's death toll from the coronavirus doubled to six in one day, and cities and counties statewide took new measures Tuesday to slow the spread of the virus.

Greene County health officials announced late Monday that a woman in her 80s who lived at an assisted-living facility had died. Three other residents of the same facility have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

Earlier Monday, health officials announced the death of a woman in her 30s in St. Louis and a man in his 70s in St. Charles County.

The state health department reported 183 confirmed cases as of Monday, up from 106 the day before. An updated number was expected Tuesday afternoon.

The health department said the rise in numbers was partly attributable to the increasing access to testing. With several health care centers and systems operating mobile testing sites, the state now lists 28 places offering testing.

Missouri has received some personal protective equipment for free from the national strategic stockpile but also is spending about $20 million of state funds on supplies needed by health care workers and emergency responders, state Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell said Tuesday.

The state placed a $10 million order this week for nearly 4.3 million N95 respirator masks, O’Connell said. Among other things, the state ordered 335,000 bottles of hand sanitizer at a cost of $700,000; 95,000 surgical masks for $190,000; and 61,000 goggles for $117,000, he said.

Missouri lawmakers haven’t approved a specific budget appropriation for coronavirus efforts, and the Capitol is shut down for at least the next two weeks. But O’Connell said the state has used $2.3 million from its disaster fund and is tapping $18 million from existing budgets in several departments.

Among Missouri's sick are five members from the Weinhaus family in St. Louis County. Jane Weinhaus, 63, teaches at the early childhood center at Congregation Temple Israel, where she is one of four teachers to come down with COVID-19. She was hospitalized on a ventilator for more than a week but is now off the ventilator, the family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Michael Weinhaus is hospitalized on high-flow oxygen. Jason Weinhaus, his brother Ryan and Ryan’s wife Dr. Brittanie Weinhaus have tested positive but have nearly recovered, Jason Weinhaus told the newspaper.

Also hospitalized is an inmate at the state prison in St. Joseph. Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said prisoners are continuing normal activities but their health is being closely monitored.

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

Some places have gone to extreme measures. In Hannibal, where Samuel Clemens grew up and which is known for its Mark Twain sites, the city removed or roped off all playground equipment and removed picnic tables from parks.

Boone County joined the growing list of jurisdictions requiring residents to stay at home.

St. Louis city and St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Jackson, Clay and Buchanan counties also have enacted stay-at-home orders. Statewide, Republican Gov. Mike Parson has banned gatherings of more than 10 people, but has declined to require people to stay at home despite pressure from some medical leaders.

State officials took action preventing Food Stamp benefits from ending during the pandemic, and waived work requirements through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration.

Police in Warrenton arrested a man who posted a video on social media of himself licking merchandise at a Walmart story. Warrenton is 55 miles  west of St. Louis.

Continue Reading St Joseph Post
Mar 25, 2020 10:30 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."