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Illinois Now Has More Than 10K Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

Illinois’ COVID-19 caseload surpassed 10,000 this weekend. Governor J.B. Pritzker said residents must continue to do their part to slow its spread.

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Four residents and two workers at a St. Louis nursing home have tested positive for coronavirus.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

Live Updates: Coronavirus In The St. Louis Region

4:50 p.m. Sunday, April 5 In the St. Louis region, 468 people are currently hospitalized , including those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those who are awaiting test results. Of those people, 164 are in the intensive care unit, and 139 are using ventilators.

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Coronavirus In St. Louis: You Ask, We Answer

St. Louis Public Radio is answering your questions about the stay-at-home orders put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Coronavirus in St. Louis: Answering Your Questions About Stay-At-Home Orders

Updated April 3 We’re answering your questions about the coronavirus in the St. Louis region. This Q&A is dedicated to questions about restrictions on “nonessential” activities in Missouri and Illinois. Most of the St. Louis region is currently under a stay-at-home order , as is the entire state of Illinois. Those restrictions could change, so check our live blog and Twitter account for the latest updates.

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A worker trims marijuana plants in Ascend Illinois' growing facility in Barry, IL.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Illinois’ new recreational marijuana market is off to a hot start even amid the spread of coronavirus. Earlier this week, the state announced nearly $36 million worth of legal cannabis was sold in March — on par with numbers from February.

Nurses greet a patient in their car to be tested for the COVID-19 at the Mercy Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield on Saturday morning. Missouri has four known cases of the new coronavirus virus as of Friday evening. 3/14/20
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri and Illinois health care providers are ramping up testing capacity in response to COVID-19 projections that the death toll would peak in mid-April.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker predicts the state will be able to test 10,000 people a day by then. The Missouri Health Department said it has the capacity for 2,000 tests a day, not including the capacity of private labs in the state.

To be eligible for a test, you first must be screened by the testing site by phone or online. You cannot bypass the screening, even if a doctor has recommended that you get testing. It is mandatory. 

Creve Coeur Park bike path
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens of people were running, walking and biking on the path that runs around a lake in Creve Coeur Park Friday afternoon, soaking up the last few hours before St. Louis County shut the site down.

County officials are closing parks from Friday night until April 22 in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Residents interviewed in Creve Coeur Park Friday said they were disappointed but mostly understood that parks might be hot spots for the virus.

“It will impact our mental health a little bit. It’s nice to get outside and get some fresh air, especially at the parks,” said Jessica Compton, who lives in St. Ann. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers interacting with a coronavirus patient wear a heavy-duty mask called an N95 respirator.
michael_swan | Flickr

At the St. Louis hospital where Emma Crocker works as a registered nurse, only employees working in areas with confirmed COVID-19 patients, like the emergency room and the ICU, were given N95 masks from the hospital’s collection. 

“The CDC, when they first came out, recommended the use of N95 masks for every health care worker, but we know that there’s a shortage — there’s a limited supply, which is actually what’s hindering us the most right now,” said Crocker.

N95 masks are in short supply across the country, and the hospital said they were conserving their supply.

A report being considered by the St. Louis parking commission suggests increasing parking rates in the city. That would help fund upgraded meters, like this one that takes credit cards.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The city of St. Louis has received an extra $5 million to cover the costs of the coronavirus outbreak.

The commission that helps oversee parking operations in the city voted Friday to transfer the money from one of its accounts to the city’s reserves. That’s about the amount the city has spent this budget year on the virus; next year’s budget is likely to be millions of dollars in the red.

Sandy Kearney shares a message for the Eureka High School community, where she began working as a guidance counselor in 1993. Kearney died from COVID-19 this week. She was 70 years old.
Rockwood School District

Sandy Kearney’s health was improving, she assured her friends and family. She even talked with her grandsons in a video chat from the hospital bed.

Co-workers, friends and family were all concerned when they learned Kearney had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus sweeping through the world. But Sandy, they prayed, they predicted, would be fine.

Rebecca Clark

Christian Frommelt started swing dancing in 2007, and his hobby turned into a full-time job in 2014. With the coronavirus outbreak, he’s had to find a new way to reach audiences around the St. Louis area while practicing social distancing. 

During the swing era, from the 1920s to the 1940s, dancing was a way for people to feel a release during tough times. Across the U.S., people continue to dance to swing. But with the COVID-19 outbreak, today's dancers are missing out on that release.

File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Jake Hamlet thinks about his wife’s health constantly these days. She has an autoimmune disease that targets the lungs, and she could be vulnerable to the coronavirus.

As a carpenter, Hamlet — like all employees in the construction industry — is considered essential. He works for a small general contracting company in St. Louis that does home renovations.

He could choose to stay home, but his wife, Tina, who works remotely, said they need the money. Hamlet wouldn’t be able to collect unemployment benefits, since he has the option to work.

Indigo Massage & Wellness is among the businesses that closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Pictured April 3, 2020.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Unemployment claims began skyrocketing in Missouri and Illinois in mid-March following orders from state and county leaders that have restricted movement and business operations, and new state data show that that trend has continued to accelerate.

Last week, about 104,000 people filed unemployment claims in Missouri and 178,000 in Illinois — a steep increase in both states from the prior week. Nationally, more than 5.8 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the largest number on record.

Despite those dramatic jumps, economists at Washington University and the St. Louis Federal Reserve say the economy could recover swiftly after the worst of the coronavirus pandemic subsides and businesses start to reopen.

About 1.8 million Missourians are not under a stay-at-home order as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 1,834 Thursday, according to a KCUR analysis. 

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson has so far declined to issue a statewide order, instead saying cities and counties are best equipped to make the decision for their area. Most Missourians, about 70%, are under a county or city stay-at-home order. 


St. Louis on the Air

Monday: As Coronavirus Risk Grows, Missouri Prisons Resist Release

Sara Baker, policy director for the ACLU of Missouri, will join us to discuss her agency’s attempts to get action from the state prison system.