Live Updates: Coronavirus in the Ozarks

KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.  But first, these local resources:

If you are sick in the Ozarks region and suspect you may have COVID-19, call your doctor or health care provider first. Use "telemedicine," also known as Virtual Visits, to seek medical treatment so you don't expose others to illness.  Here's a link to CoxHealth Virtual Visits and here's the link to virtual visits through MyMercy.

CoxHealth is offering free virtual visits to people with symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Those patients should use the code COVID when beginning a virtual visit with CoxHealth at the link above. Or they can call 417-269-TMED (8633).

And you can click here for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department's special page on COVID-19.

For the latest information and advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services has set up a coronavirus hotline; residents and medical providers needing advice on the virus can call 877-435-8411 at any time on any day.

Click here for updates on area nonprofits and local government.

And if you would like to share how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting you, email us at ksmunews@missouristate.edu. See our ongoing local coverage below.

Experts say it’s critical that people check in on older friends and neighbors, even through a simple phone call.

KSMU’s Jennifer Moore and her former neighbor, Velma Hayes, have been keeping in touch through the pandemic, and they decided to share one of their phone calls to encourage others to stay connected.  Hayes lives independently in West Plains, Missouri, and Moore lives and works in Springfield.  You can hear their conversation here:

We encourage you to think of someone you could reach out to in a similar way. Here are a few things you might talk about:

Discovery Center

The Discovery Center of Springfield, under normal circumstances, is a place where people of all ages can learn about science and have fun while exploring the facility’s many exhibits.  And it’s usually a place where kids can take classes focused on STEM:  Science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  But these are different times, and the Discovery Center is serving a different purpose now. 

It’s been a little more than two weeks since the Discovery Center closed its doors to the public and opened its doors as a childcare center.

Mark Applegate / Used with permission

Families are struggling to check in on loved ones in nursing homes as most facilities have closed their doors to the public. One son in the Ozarks is dealing with the distance his mother, who is on hospice in a nursing home in Republic.

Mark Applegate used to visit his mother several times a week at Republic Nursing and Rehabilitation. But it's been four weeks since he's seen or hugged her.

His mother has advanced stage dementia.

For now, Applegate gets 15-minute increments to talk to her over FaceTime video.

Dave Herholz / Flickr

 

What can someone who’s recovered from the coronavirus do to help people still struggling with it? According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the answer could lie in their blood plasma.

In a news release, the department said they’re looking for people who have fully recovered from the coronavirus to donate plasma. The plasma of someone who has recovered (COVID-19 convalescent plasma or CCP) is believed to have antibodies that makes fighting off future infections easier.

 

Bear Pantry MSU Blog / Missouri State University

  Both MSU and OTC in Springfield ave dedicated emergency funds for students in need, and they remain active even during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Missouri State University President Clif Smart said on Twitter this week that he and his wife had donated to MSU's Bear Pantry, and encouraged others who were able to do the same. 

 

Alex Johnson, who works with students and nonprofits at MSU, said food pantry is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and is located in Hutchens House on campus. 

 

Humane Society of Southwest Missouri / Used with permission

The Humane Society of Southwest Missouri says it’s seen so many new animals show up recently that it’s running out of space.   KSMU’s Jennifer Moore spoke with Karen Foutch, director of development for the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.  Foutch began by saying the shelter is already using bathrooms and other spaces to house the new animals.

It’s asking the public to consider fostering animals as a temporary solution until the stay-at-home order is lifted and regular adoptions can resume.  You can hear an excerpt from their interview below:

Watch the latest press briefing from the White House Coronavirus Task Force for April 13, 2020.

National Park Service

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is now completely closed to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to a news release, the emergency closure is “for the maintenance of public health and safety and is in direct response to guidance from state and federal health officials.”

The battlefield had been open until last Saturday, except for the visitor center, and fees waived.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield superintendent, Ross Runge, said they will lift the closure as soon as possible.

Springfield-Greene County Park Board

If you go to a park in Greene County, make sure you use the restroom before you leave home.  The Springfield-Greene County Park Board is postponing the seasonal reopening of restrooms, drinking fountains and interactive fountains to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Restrooms and fountains are usually re-opened in early April. 

The Park Board has also closed several restrooms that have been open through the winter as well as chemical toilets.

(a) artwork / Flickr

Two Springfield hospitals are finding ways to help their employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mercy and CoxHealth are just two hospitals in Missouri and across the nation that have had to restrict or end non-emergency services and elective surgeries. 

Some employees impacted by those changes have been redeployed to other areas, according to a news release from Mercy.  But the health system has support programs for those that can’t be reassigned.

(Logo courtesy Missouri State University Tent Theatre)

Like many people Missouri State University Managing Director of Theatre and Dance, Mark Templeton, is hunkered down at home during the Coronavirus stay-at-home order.  But so are the many students, Theatre and Dance faculty, and theatre professionals who would normally be gearing up for the 58th consecutive season of MSU Tent Theatre, scheduled for June 10-July 18, 2020. The 2020 Tent season has been cancelled, and Mark Templeton discussed the reasons why, and what the Theatre and Dance Department hopes to offer to fill the gap.            

Sean MacEntee / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Social Services will be able to use United States Department of Agriculture food to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

DSS was given approval by the federal agency to use USDA foods to operate Disaster Household Distribution.  Missourians in need will be able to get a food package from mobile and drive-by locations through May 7.

The food will be distributed through six Missouri food banks, including Ozarks Food Harvest at more than 200 distribution sites.

Michele Skalicky

After Governor Parson ordered public and charter schools in Missouri to remain closed through the rest of the school year, Springfield Public Schools superintendent, Dr. John Jungmann, issued a statement.  He called Thursday “a sad day for Missouri educators, students and teachers.”  But he said the district wants what’s best for students and staff and that the governor’s decision was necessary.

Michele Skalicky

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has announced an eighth death from COVID-19 in the county. 

Meanwhile, the health department's director, Clay Goddard, said the community needs to do better at working to prevent the spread of the illness, although he believes the stay at home order is working.

The person who died was a man in his 70s who was immunocompromised.  He was not a resident of the assisted living facility, Morningside East, which had several cases and five deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Missouri Department of Conservation

City Utilities is asking everyone who uses its properties around Springfield for recreation to follow the CDC’s guidelines and stay six feet from other people.

According to a news release from CU, a lot of people have been visiting Fellows Lake and McDaniel Lake for fishing and other forms of recreation. 

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