Missouri records 9th virus death; another nursing home hit

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Missouri has recorded its ninth coronavirus death as the outbreak continues to spread, hitting nursing homes particularly hard.

St. Louis County officials said Thursday that the latest victim is a woman in her 80s with chronic medical conditions. The announcement came after Missouri health officials said the state had 502 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 356 on Wednesday.

Coronavirus-related developments in Missouri:

NURSING HOMES:

Officials didn’t say whether the latest victim lived in a nursing home, even as another nursing home recorded cases. Sean Buckley, executive director of the Life Care Center in St. Louis, said in a written statement that four residents are hospitalized and two employees were directed to stay at home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the nursing home is owned by the same company that operates the Life Care Center of Kirkland, near Seattle, where 37 people have died from a COVID-19 outbreak. Another Life Care facility in Kansas City was the site of Kansas’ first coronavirus death.

Buckley said the first of the six cases at Life Care Center of St. Louis was confirmed Tuesday in a resident who was hospitalized March 18 at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond Heights. Two residents who later exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus were taken to the hospital Monday, Buckley said. A fourth resident was hospitalized Tuesday.

Health officials previously announced that three of the people to die of the coronovirus had lived at an assisted-living center in Springfield.

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, or death.

DISASTER DECLARATION:

The state did receive a glimmer of hope. Missouri will receive federal funds to cover some costs of fighting the spread of the coronavirus, after President Donald Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for the state.

Gov. Mike Parson, who sought the federal help on Tuesday, praised the president for his quick response “as we battle this unprecedented public health and economic threat to Missourians.”

Parson’s request for federal assistance for crisis counseling, unemployment assistance and disposal for hazardous waste related to the outbreak are pending.

UNEMPLOYMENT:

Officials also announced a 900% increase in unemployment benefits. Federal unemployment data released Thursday showed 40,508 Missourians filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 21, compared to 4,016 the previous week. That came as a record number of people across the U.S. applied for unemployment benefits last week because of layoffs caused by the pandemic.

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