COVID-19 | St. Louis Public Radio


Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Friday. It will go into effect on Monday.
Governor Mike Parson screenshot via Facebook

This is a developing story that will be updated

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order Friday evening, becoming the 41st governor in the U.S. to prohibit nonessential business and activities. The order goes into effect just after midnight Sunday and remains in place through April 24.

“Individuals shall avoid leaving their homes or place of residence,” Parson said. “We must all make sacrifices. This is not about one individual person, this is about our friends and neighbors.” 

Live Updates: Coronavirus In The St. Louis Region

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

5:30 p.m. Friday, April 3

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order Friday evening, becoming the 41st governor in the U.S. to prohibit nonessential business and activities. The order goes into effect early Monday morning and remains in place through April 24.

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 early 1930s to the mid-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.

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Carolyn Mueller, a local author and zookeeper at the Saint Louis Zoo, has explored the trails of Forest Park for more than a decade. While many have walked up the famous Art Hill, Mueller has also taken the paths less traveled. 

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. 

Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery Executive Director stands beside the nonprofit's mobile outreach van. The decal on the back window represents the molecule naloxone, a chemical that can reverse and overdose.
File photo | Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

On most days, workers from the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery meet with clients at the addiction treatment center’s South Broadway storefront location or hit the streets to distribute naloxone and clean syringes to people using drugs.

But this week, the organization paused in-person meetings and decreased street outreach as the organization tries to balance protecting its staff from the spread of the coronavirus with its mission to support those currently and formerly addicted to drugs.

With many people isolated during the pandemic, those with addictions are at greater risk for relapse and overdose.

Medical workers collect a sample from a patient at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site in Chesterfield on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Missouri lawmakers say they are planning to return to Jefferson City next week to pass a supplemental budget that includes millions of state and federal dollars to help deal with the outbreak. 

The drive-thru triage area at Phelps Health Medical Center in Rolla is part of the hospital's preperation to handle increased patients becaue of coronavirus. 04-02-20
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA — So far, there have not been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Phelps County, but the hospital in Rolla is using the delay to make sure it's ready.

Phelps Health Medical Center is the largest hospital for more than 50 miles in every direction. And while COVID-19 cases are few in that region, they are preparing for its arrival in big numbers.

Phelps Health started expanding its capacity more than two weeks ago, with the creation of a triage center in a parking lot adjacent to the hospital. It’s made up of tents, portable buildings and a covered carport where patients can be assessed in their cars.

Updated on April 3 at 12:04 p.m. ET

Since the first U.S. case of the coronavirus was identified in Washington state on Jan. 21, health officials have identified more than 240,000 cases across the United States and more than 6,000 deaths. By March 17, the virus had expanded its presence from several isolated clusters in Washington, New York and California to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Brian Reed, an administrator with Rockwood School District, hands out laptops to students March 22, 2020, in preparation of remote learning.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Like parents around the country, Michelle Haffer never imagined having to become her child’s full-time teacher. But Haffer’s daughter is out of school and mostly stuck in the house.

And her daughter, Maddy, isn’t loving it.

“Well, she’s been struggling. It’s mostly the social distancing, in that nothing is open,” Haffer said.

The new coronavirus has been detected in dozens of countries, including the United States. It gets its name from its protruding spikes, which resemble a crown.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:30 p.m., March 31 with comment from Washington University School of Medicine

St. Louis University doctors are using an experimental drug to treat hospitalized patients who test positive for COVID-19. 

The National Institutes of Health recently launched a study on remdesivir at SLU and about 60 research sites around the world. The intravenous drug has been used to treat a small number of COVID-19 patients, but there’s not enough evidence to show that any drug is an effective treatment. 

Determining whether remdesivir works could save lives, said Sarah George, an infectious disease researcher at SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development.

Affinia Healthcare's Biddle Street location services one of the largest homeless populations in the city. Now COVID-19 testing is available to those communities experiencing homelessness as well.
Kendra Holmes

North St. Louis’ first COVID-19 testing site opens Thursday in the Carr Square neighborhood. 

Affinia Healthcare's 1717 Biddle St. location will begin drive-thru and walk-up testing in its parking lot for individuals who are experiencing symptoms and need to be tested for the virus.

Kendra Holmes, the center’s chief operating officer, said having a COVID-19 testing site in north St. Louis is vital because African Americans in low-income areas often don’t have access to necessary health care. 

Frontier Health and Rehabilitation, a nursing home in St. Charles on March 27, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5 p.m., March 31 with latest number of cases at Frontier Health and Rehabilitation

When dozens of nursing home residents in a Seattle suburb tested positive for COVID-19, people in St. Louis grew worried about their loved ones. 

Michael Allen immediately thought of his aunt, who has schizophrenia and a heart condition, and lives at Frontier Health and Rehabilitation in St. Charles. Allen grew more worried when her nursing home reported that residents there had tested positive.

Nursing homes across the country blocked access to visitors, began screening staff and residents multiple times a day, and are trying to follow guidelines from federal and local authorities.

A staff member loads up food donations for a church group at an emergency food distribution center set up outside Better Family Life on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People throughout the St. Louis region have flocked to grocery stores to stock up on supplies they need while staying home to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

But many people cannot afford food. To help ensure their needs are met, the St. Louis Area Foodbank and other nonprofits are stepping up their efforts to provide food.

Teams work on responding to COVID-19 at the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management in Ballwin on March 13, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical ethicists are trained to confront ethical questions in medicine, and the novel coronavirus raises quite a few.

For instance, in China and Italy, there have been reports of hospitals being forced to ration care for COVID-19 patients. This form of rationing care and prioritizing treatment is determined by a hospital’s crisis standards of care guidelines.

Anthony Brooks, third-year medical student at Washington University, calls a patient to tell them they have tested negative for COVID-19. Though most are not able to care directly for coronavirus patients, many med students are helping in other ways.
Bruin Pollard | Washington University

Cyrus Ghaznavi is supposed to be studying for his final exams — but like other students, he’s having trouble focusing in the midst of a global pandemic. 

“It feels so insignificant to be studying out of a textbook, when on the front lines, health care is basically evolving at a mile a minute,” said Ghaznavi, a medical student at Washington University. 

As the virus spreads rapidly through cities, many medical students have been pulled from their clinical rotations due to worries over possible exposure. While not able to care for COVID-19 patients, a growing number of med students in St. Louis are volunteering to help in other ways.

Illustration of a person who has just been laid off sitting at a computer looking at a website that asks him to enter his personal information to get benefits quickly.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The FBI says it has received hundreds of complaints about cyberscams based on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“When there’s a lot of fear and anxiety in the general population, it just seems that a lot of times scammers and criminals take advantage of those emotions and try to rob people of their money or their personal information,” said Mark Dargis, assistant special agent in charge of national security and cyber programs at the St. Louis field office.

People mill in the hallway leading to the Missouri Senate chamber.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislators were originally scheduled to be back in Jefferson City this week after the legislative spring break, but the coronavirus has put a hold on their return. 

Before the House adjourned the week of March 16, it approved a supplemental budget that includes $40 million in federal and state funds to help fight COVID-19. 

Pete DaPrato and his granddaughter Kate Hamel.  [3/30/20]
DaPrato Family

Hours after Pete DaPrato died from COVID-19, members of his family gathered at his home in O’Fallon, Missouri.

But they didn’t go inside.

Pete’s widow, Jackie, was in quarantine. And the other mourners wanted to follow health guidelines and maintain a healthy distance.

So they pulled up chairs in the driveway, spaced six to 10 feet apart from each other.

Pete’s daughter produced a couple of cans of Bud Light. His twin brother and son each took one, and cleaned it off with a disinfectant wipe. 

Like other families, the DePratos are grappling with the reality of death and mourning in the time of coronavirus. 

Coronavirus in St. Louis: Answering Your Health And Safety Questions

Mar 30, 2020
St. Louis Public Radio is answering your health and safety questions about COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

We’re answering your questions about health and the coronavirus in the St. Louis region.

Some of these answers about how to keep yourself and your neighbors safe during the pandemic may change in the coming weeks. We’ll post those changes here. Check our live blog and Twitter account for the latest updates. 

Coronavirus in St. Louis: Answering Your Questions About Making Ends Meet

Mar 30, 2020
St. Louis Public Radio is answering your questions about how COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, affects you financially.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

We’re answering your questions about the coronavirus in the St. Louis region. This Q&A addresses unemployment, government financial assistance and other financial issues critical for workers and employers. 

Don’t see your question answered? Ask it here. And check out other coronavirus guides:

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

Mar 30, 2020
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

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. 

Illinois Gov. Pritzker Says State Testing For Coronavirus Will Ramp Up

Mar 29, 2020
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday during his daily press briefing that more than 1,000 people in the state had tested positively for the coronavirus in the last 24 hours. 03/29/20
Gov. J.B. Pritzker via Facebook Live

In the midst of a global pandemic that has shut down much of society, concerns remain high in Illinois about getting enough people tested. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday said the state is testing about 4,000 people per day. He expects that number will be at 10,000 in the next ten days. 

“That marker, 10,000, is significant, because it’s the number of tests per day that the scientists and experts tell us that we need to get a truly holistic understanding of the virus in each of our 102 counties,” Pritzker said. 

Updated at 9:14 p.m. ET

The United States marked another grim milestone in its fight against the coronavirus on Saturday, when the number of deaths from the virus topped 2,000.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 2,010 Americans have now died from the coronavirus. The majority of deaths have been in New York City.

Students from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University donated their supplies of personal protective equipment.
Washington University School of Medicine

St. Louis-area trade groups are asking workers to donate their stores of personal protective equipment to medical workers to protect them from COVID-19. 

Nurses and doctors at St. Louis hospitals have sounded the alarm about a limited amount of masks, gloves and other protective gear. A surge in global demand has depleted the supply, and many front-line medical workers worry that they won’t have equipment to keep from contracting the virus from sick patients.