ST. LOUIS (AP) — The youngest of the eight people to die of the coronavirus outbreak in Missouri was a 31-year-old Red Cross employee who was buried as her family watched from their cars.
The American Red Cross Missouri-Arkansas Region said that besides the death of Jazmond Dixon in St. Louis, one other Red Cross employee tested positive and another staff member is "presumed to be positive through a medical assessment, but has not been tested." None of the three employees had contact with members of the public as part of their daily duties, and all three worked at the same Red Cross facility, KSDK reported.
"Just a few weeks ago, the coronavirus was a headline from China, and never in a million years did my family think that we would one day have experienced our loved one, our Jazz, to be the first official victim in the City of St. Louis. It's crazy," said Dixon’s cousin, Belafae Johnson.
Dixon was buried on Tuesday. The other seven deaths include 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 as testing capacity increases.
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.
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.
Without his action, locally issued stay-at-home orders have are in effect or about to take effect in the state's largest communities of Kansas City, St. Louis, St. Joseph, Springfield and Columbia. A ban on non-essential business in Branson also took effect Tuesday, and city hall in Jefferson City closed to the public Wednesday.
With Americans' lives and livelihoods hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump said he "would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” on April 12. But that statement sharply contradicted health officials' calls for stricter restrictions on public interactions. Scientists and other politicians in the U.S. have warned that the worst is yet to come.
Parson, a Republican and staunch Trump ally, dismissed the idea that restrictions put in place to slow the COVID-19 outbreak will be lifted anytime soon, The Kansas City Star reports.
“I hope the president is right,” Parson said Tuesday, “but the reality is we are planning this much longer than two weeks here in the state of Missouri.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who issued the metro’s first emergency declaration and ordered residents to stay home starting Tuesday, called the president’s shifting message “incredibly distressing.”
Lucas has acknowledged the “incredibly deleterious” impact to Kansas City’s economy. But he adds: “I also know that if people die, I can’t bring them back."