COVID-19 impacts | St. Louis Public Radio

COVID-19 impacts

Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, is located in the heart of downtown.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Cardinals will open training camp this week at Busch Stadium. They are preparing for a shortened regular season because of the pandemic. Major League Baseball is planning for all teams to play 60 games, starting July 23 or 24.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Wayne Pratt spoke with Cardinals beat writer Anne Rogers about the shortened season, what this might look like for the fans and how she’s planning to do her job during a pandemic. 

A recent show at the Contemporary Art Museum
File Photo | Contemporary Art Museum

The Contemporary Art Museum will reopen its doors July 9 with new social distancing measures to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

Only about 50 people at a time will be allowed to enter the museum every 15 or 30 minutes. Visitors and employees will be required to wear face masks, and workers will disinfect public spaces every two hours as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CAM Executive Director Lisa Melandri said.

Thousands demonstrated in from of St. Louis City Hall and marched through downtown Sunday June 7, 2020, with calls for police reform.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Before 19-year-old Sydney Alexander goes out to protest in the St. Louis area, she makes sure she has all of the protective gear necessary to prevent contracting COVID-19.

That means wearing a mask and gloves and trying her best to remain socially distant from others. As an African American woman whose father contracted the coronavirus in April, she’s afraid. But she’s determined to make her voice heard because she’s tired of hearing about and watching horrific scenes.

For Alexander, this season of pain points to a difficult reality for black people.

“Are you going to be killed by the virus, and that’s a big if, or are you going to be hurt or brutalized or killed by the police?” Alexander asked.

The pandemic forced many large buildings to close, including theaters, schools and stadiums. Researchers warn that the stagnant water sitting in the pipes of these buildings may have accumulated pathogens and heavy metals.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

After sitting empty for months, offices and commercial buildings in St. Louis are beginning to reopen — many with freshly installed Plexiglas barriers to protect workers from passing the coronavirus.

But researchers warn of other health risks that may be lurking in the plumbing systems of these once-shuttered buildings.

With fewer users, pipes have held stagnant water for weeks or months at a time. Some waterborne pathogens thrive in this environment, while heavy metals can slowly leach out of aging pipes. The sheer number of unoccupied buildings during the pandemic has some researchers concerned about a potential spike in waterborne illnesses. 

Ferguson residents vote at Griffith Elementary School in Ferguson, Missouri. Residents voted in person for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. June 2, 2020
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents across the St. Louis area came out to vote Tuesday in Missouri's first elections since officials enacted stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday’s municipal elections were originally scheduled for April 7. Gov. Mike Parson signed an executive order in March to postpone the election to June as the virus spread across the state. 

On Tuesday, many voters wore masks and other personal protective gear and stayed socially distant from others waiting to vote.

Patrons dine at the Old Herald Brewery and Distillery in Collinsville on May 29. The restaurant can serve customers in-person in phase three of Illinois' reopening plan.  05 29 2020
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly all businesses in Illinois are now able to open more than two months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s initial stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

There are still some restrictions and guidelines on how stores should operate, but they’re no longer closed to the public. Generally the state requires workers wear masks, and maintain a six feet social distance when possible.

Gov. Mike Parson answers a reporter's question at a press conference in Clayton on May 29, 2020.
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Mike Parson said it made sense to give local governments like St. Louis County power to enact stricter coronavirus-related regulations than the rest of the state, saying a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for every corner of the state.

This comes as some St. Louis County residents have been criticizing County Executive Sam Page’s administration for not reopening certain businesses, such as gyms and fitness centers.

Drake's Place restaurant's sous-chef, Deundrake Lewis Jr. May 27, 2020
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After years of ups and downs, Drake's Place in Ferguson was beginning to turn a profit in recent months, thanks to the many customers who kept coming back for its savory shrimp, potatoes and green beans. But when St. Louis County issued stay-at-home orders to stop the coronavirus from spreading, owner Bridgett Lewis had to cease dine-in services. 

That brought back bitter memories for Lewis. Six years ago, she had to limit the restaurant's hours after a police officer killed Michael Brown Jr., sparking chaos. But even that didn't prepare her for the hit her business has taken during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Some days are pretty sad, very sad,” Lewis said recently. “Like yesterday we made $300. You can’t live off [that] and run a restaurant.” 

Scott Allred, a beekeeper in Wildwood, tends to his hives. Allred has been capturing wayward bee swarms in the St. Louis area since 2012.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Bob Altman didn’t notice the bee swarm at first.

“My neighbor came over and knocked on my door and said, ‘Bob, there’s something in your backyard,’” Altman said.

The Florissant resident watched as thousands of bees zoomed in circles behind his home “like a tornado,” before landing on an old clothesline pole in a humming ball.

Carla Harris takes medication for Diabetes and heart palpitations. Like Many African Americans, she's concerned that her pre-existing condition makes her more susceptible to COVID-19., May 18, 2020
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Carla Harris sent her 15-year-old daughter to stay with a family member in St. Louis County several weeks ago. Harris is a certified nurse assistant and patient care technician who works in a St. Louis-area hospital. Her husband works in a nursing facility. 

Like many African Americans with pre-existing health conditions, they worry that they're vulnerable to the coronavirus, which has disproportionately hit black communities in the region. She lives with diabetes and takes medication for heart palpitations, and he has bronchitis. Harris said they know quite a few people who have lost a loved one to COVID-19.

A cashier at MERS Goodwill retrieves a purse off a clothing rack at the thrift store chain's store in Manchester. Store employees wiped down carts between shoppers and halted sales of large furniture. May 18, 2020
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on additional businesses

Customers lined up Monday morning outside a dozen MERS Goodwill locations in St. Louis and St. Louis County before stores reopened at 10 a.m. As the Florissant store quickly reached its 50-person capacity, other people waited outside on X’s marked on the ground — eager to get inside now that businesses can reopen.

Many wore cloth masks, and the few who didn’t were upset that they could not enter the store without one, said Tori Basile, Goodwill’s district retail manager.

“More than anything they’re just looking for that little return to normalcy and what they enjoyed doing before we closed the stores — coming in to treasure hunt and get some supplies that they may have needed while we were closed,” she said.

The St. Louis Galleria will reopen to the public on Monday, but with some restrictions.  Officials suggest customers to wear masks while shopping and to be prepared to wait if a store reaches its occupancy limitations.
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses and consumers throughout the St. Louis region are preparing to resume their severed relationship in a few days.

For several weeks, officials required many businesses to close to keep the coronavirus from spreading. Restaurants could only offer drive-through or carry-out service.

On Monday, many businesses are expected to open as city and county officials will lift many of the measures they put in place. But retailers, restaurants and other companies will have to follow some restrictions. At restaurants, for example, employees will have to wear masks and customers will be encouraged to. Businesses will have to limit the number of customers allowed inside.

Dr. Mahrukh Khan (far left) and Malik Sims (far right) volunteering at the free, mobile COVID-19 testing spot in north Ferguson.
Provided by Malik Sims

Muslims observing Ramadan are now halfway into the holy month marked by daily fasting, increased religious observance, alms giving and self-reflection. Leading up to the month, which started April 24, the coronavirus dampened the spirits of many looking forward to all the festivities people usually have planned to help keep the momentum going throughout this period.

Chris Hansen of Kranzberg Arts Foundation stands on the stage of The Grandel Theatre.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

More than half of people who frequently visit performing arts venues operated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation said they'll feel comfortable returning once there is a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent survey.

The foundation created the survey to gauge when its patrons would be comfortable returning. The organization, which operates the Kranzberg, .ZACK, the Dark Room and other spaces, sent the survey out last week and posted it to social media, receiving 915 responses.

Nancy Morrow-Howell is the director of the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging and a professor at Washington University.
Washington University

Even the quickest scan of statistics related to the coronavirus pandemic makes it painfully obvious the disease has hit some communities and segments of the population much harder than others. And to an expert on aging and social policy such as Washington University’s Nancy Morrow-Howell, those troubling realities come as no surprise.

But as the crisis shines fresh light on longstanding disparities on a multitude of fronts, along with the everyday impacts of systemic racism and ageism, Morrow-Howell also has some hope for real improvement — particularly when it comes to a deeper understanding of older adults as the diverse individuals that they are.