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Live Coverage: Coronavirus In The Kansas City Area

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This post was updated daily through June 5 with information about the coronavirus in the Kansas City metro. For more recent and ongoing coverage, go to kcur.org/coronavirus.

Stay up to date with local coronavirus news. Subscribe to our morning news email here.

  • For the total number of cases in Kansas, broken down by county, click here.
  • For the total number of cases in Missouri, broken down by county, click here.

Friday, June 5

4:15 p.m. – Another 210 Kansas Citians tested positive for COVID-19 this week, a 41 percent increase from last week.

Deputy Health Director Frank Thompson said some of the new cases are related to a cluster at Aspen Paper, including household members of employees and individuals they interacted with in the community.

Thompson said it’s too early to tell if any of the new cases in the Kansas City area can be traced back to large gatherings over Memorial Day weekend. He said it’s more likely there are more cases because more Missourians are getting tested. Statewide, 123 percent more tests were done this week than two weeks ago, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services.

Thompson said anyone headed out to protest police violence this weekend should take basic precautions like wearing a mask and washing their hands frequently.

“As public health (officials), we don’t want to discourage people from participating in civil protests, but we do encourage people to be safe as they are exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said.

Monday, June 1

4:15 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced significant funding cuts for K-12 schools and the state’s colleges and universities Monday.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education won’t get $131 million, or 39% of the final payment to K-12 schools for the fiscal year that ends this month.

“Our intent is to withhold now and avoid withholds once school begins,” Parson said at a news conference Monday afternoon, adding that all districts and charter schools will take a proportionate share of the cut, including small, rural districts that get extra funding from the state to offset declining enrollment.

Missouri’s colleges and universities will lose an additional $41 million, bringing the total amount withheld from higher education to $117 million for the fiscal year.

Zora Mulligan, the director of the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, said the amount being withheld will create “significant hardship” for state schools that won’t be offset by federal COVID-19 funds.

“The amount restricted today essentially equates to the June payment that institutions would have received,” Mulligan said at the governor’s press conference. “It’s 100% of that payment.”

— Elle Moxley

1:45 p.m. — As of Monday, the Johnson County Museum is back open for pre-registered appointments.

The museum, at 8788 Metcalf Ave., shut down March 16 due to the COVID-19 epidemic and stay-home orders. But as of Monday June 1 the museum is providing tours for small groups that pre-register on the website, where people can also register for Kidscape times. People will remain physically distanced during the tours and are encouraged to wear masks; children can visit Kidscape for 90 minutes and then that area is completely sanitized for the next group.

The museum features a new exhibit that was put together during the shutdown. Called “Rising to the Challenge: Suburban Strength in Difficult Times,” it shows how Johnson County has responded to past crises, disasters and emergencies.

“It’s really inspirational and provides some context,” said Andrew Gustafson, the museum's curator of interpretation.

— Lynn Horsley

9 a.m. — Missouri has reported its highest COVID-19 death count in a single day. The state's Department of Health and Senior Services reported 33 new COVID-19 deaths on Saturday.

This came just one day after the previous highest count, a report of 31 deaths on Friday.

The total county of fatalities in Missouri stands at 771. COVID-19 hospitalizations in Missouri also increased last week, climbing to a total of 718 as of Saturday.

— Alex Smith

Friday, May 29

5:05 p.m. — Kansas City, Kansas, bars and nightclubs can now officially open, with restrictions on capacity. The announcement from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, came Friday at midday, taking some bar owners by surprise.

Under the county’s rules, bars may allow 15 or fewer patrons inside, with 6 feet of social distancing between groups of people. Servers, bartenders and other staff must wear masks at all times and wash hands and “high-touch” surfaces frequently. Establishments must also place hand sanitizer throughout the business.

In a statement, Deputy Medical Officer Dr. Erin Corriveau said while the county is still in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, it became clear than the plan unfairly burdened bars and nightclubs.

“So long as they implement appropriate safety measures, such as social distancing, bars and nightclubs do not inherently pose greater risks than other types of businesses that have already been able to re-open,” Corriveau said.

Bars have been allowed to reopen in neighboring jurisdictions.

— Lisa Rodriguez

3:09 p.m. - Missouri reported a new highest daily count of COVID-19 fatalities on Friday.

The Department of Health and Senior Services reported 31 new deaths.

The previous highest count was on Thursday, May 21, when 30 deaths were reported.

A total of 738 people in Missouri have died due to the virus, according the state.

- Alex Smith

2:30 p.m. — A month after COVID-19 reached Kansas, many county health departments were still struggling to get basic testing supplies and protective gear.

That’s precious time lost when they could have been testing sick people, according to researchers at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita.

They surveyed counties and found — even if local agencies could find testing kits, many couldn’t afford them. Or they faced long wait times to get test results.

The researchers have sent their new study to Gov. Laura Kelly, calling for more help for local agencies.

— Celia Llopis-Jepsen

Thursday, May 28

4 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday he was extending the first phase of his reopening plan until June 15.

The first phase was was set to expire on Sunday.

Businesses are still allowed to operate as long as social distancing guidelines and capacity limits are in place. And there’s no limitations on social gatherings like fairs, camps and weddings, so long as people can remain six feet apart.

Parson says he’s extending this phase because he wants to get more of the state on the same page before he moves forward with loosening more restrictions.

Parson also announced CVS is opening 22 drive-thru coronavirus testing locations across the state. Self-swab tests will be available for those who meet CDC and state guidelines.

— Jaclyn Driscoll

7:15 a.m. — Kansas health secretary Lee Norman is predicting an uptick in cases because he fears not enough people are taking basic precautions.

Counties are now able to reopen their economies as they see fit after Gov. Laura Kelly ended statewide emergency orders earlier this week. But the effects of returning to normal life may not be seen for weeks because COVID-19 can incubate for 14 days.

Norman begged Kansans to remember his mantra — wear a mask, wash your hands often and try to keep 6 feet away from others.

“I don’t like experimenting with people. And I consider this next period of time to be an experiment in disease spread and how it takes further root in our citizenry,” he said in a briefing Wednesday.

Kansas has about 9,300 known cases. More than 200 people have died.

— Kansas News Service

Wednesday, May 27

4:25 p.m. — Starting on Monday, June 1, patrons will be able to pick up books on hold from the public libraries in Kansas City, Kansas.

Curbside pick-up will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at all five branch locations: F.L. Schlagle, Main, South, Turner, and West Wyandotte.

You will receive an email that your book is available at your designated branch library. When you arrive, there will be a call-in number. A staff member will be alerted that you are waiting and will deliver your book. You can choose to have the book brought to your car or you can walk up to pick up the book yourself.

Book drop windows will also reopen on June 1.

The book drop will close over the weekend to prevent returned books from piling up.

Kansas City, Missouri, and Mid-Continent library systems already have reopened their pick up services for books on hold and book drops.

Check websites of individual library systems for further details.

— Laura Ziegler

12 p.m. — Johnson County health officials say they plan to impose no further restrictions after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly phased out a statewide reopening plan Tuesday.

Still, Dr. Sanmi Areola, Johnson County Health and Environment Director, recommends that Johnson County residents still adhere to previous state-issued guidelines and continue staying home when possible.

“Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. There's a reason why we put those rules in place before,” Areola said, adding that if people don’t follow these guidelines a major outbreak is possible.

He said a recent uptick in cases and Kelly’s decision to rollback state mandates have the county on alert.

“With this change and many places opening, we know the risk is higher. We expect increased transmission and with that the risk to vulnerable populations increases,” Areola said.

— Noah Taborda

Tuesday, May 26

6 p.m. — Part of the Ford’s Claycomo Assembly plant temporarily ground to a halt Tuesday, after one of the workers there tested positive for COVID-19.

Ford builds F-150 pickups at the Clay County plant, as well as Transit vans. When a worker on the Transit production line tested positive company protocols triggered a clean-up.

In a statement Tuesday, Ford said, “Our protocol calls for us to deep clean and disinfect the employees’ work area, equipment, team area, and path that the employee took while at the plant today.”

Production resumed after about an hour.

Ford also said it was notifying others who may have had contact with the sick employee, and asking that they self-quarantine for two weeks.

The disruption comes just 8 days after the plant resumed production following a nearly two month shutdown.

— Frank Morris

4 p.m. — Newly updated data from the Missouri health department show that COVID-19 was in the state for more than a month before previously reported. KCUR’s

The first widely reported COVID-19 case in Missouri was announced on March 7th. However, the Department of Health and Human Services website now shows the first case on February 2nd.

That was followed by 9 additional cases in February, which appeared on subsequent days during the rest of the month. The state did not provide information about the origins of these cases or when they were discovered.

The state health department also made a number of changes to its COVID-19 data on Saturday that suggest the state has not been as aggressive in testing as its previous numbers had shown.

— Alex Smith

12 p.m. — Kansas health officials are urging Kansans who traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, over the Memorial Day weekend to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days.

Videos circulated on social media over the long holiday weekend showing groups of people packing pools and lakeside bars at the popular summer getaway locale in contravention of social distancing guidelines.

Read KCUR’s “Kansas City Health Officials Worry Lake Of The Ozarks Crowds Are A ‘Recipe For Transmission’”

“The reckless behavior displayed during this weekend risks setting our community back substantially for the progress we’ve already made in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Lee Norman, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary, said in a statement Tuesday.

Norman did note that the Lake of the Ozarks is not currently on the state’s advisory list of destinations travelers are being warned to stay away from.

On Twitter Monday, Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer echoed Norman’s call for those who had gone to the Lake of the Ozarks to self-quarantine.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory Monday evening, asking people traveling back from Lake of the Ozarks to self-quarantine for 14 days.

— Kyle Palmer

11 a.m. — Two Kansas City hotels have alerted the state that they will lay off most of their employees.

In a letter to Missouri, under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) Ameristar Casino north of the river said it will lay off 578 people sometime between July 1 and July 14.

Nevada-based Boyd Gaming owns Ameristar and says between 25% and 60% of those layoffs will be permanent.

A quarter of all layoffs are casino dealers.

The 21c Museum Hotel downtown also notified the state it was laying off 75 workers. The hotel opened two years ago.

On its website, the company said, “This is not goodbye, it’s farewell for now.”

— Sam Zeff

Sunday, May 24

12:10 p.m. — Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services officials announced yesterday that they are changing the way they report COVID-19 tests. Last week, the CDC, as well as many states, including Missouri, acknowledged they were combining the number of COVID tests given to people who are actively infected with the number of antibody tests, which measure whether people were previously infected.

Scientists are concerned that combining those numbers makes it seem like there has been more testing of active cases than is actually the case.

"Reporting both serology and viral tests under the same category is not appropriate, as these two types of tests are very different and tell us different things," wrote Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo in an email to NPR.

Missouri’s COVID-19 dashboard will now only report cases of people who have taken the test for the active virus. Previous days' reporting will be updated to remove antibody testing, which means the number of tests given in the state will go down.

“The Governor calls on us as public servants to get better every day,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “As we continue to learn more about this virus and new tests emerge, we will continue providing better data with greater clarity and transparency to help Missourians make the best decisions for their health care possible.”

Sylvia Maria Gross

Friday, May 22

5:50 p.m. — Jackson County officials have released details on the second and third phases of the county's coronavirus recovery plan.

Phase 2 is set to start June 1, as long as COVID-19 transmission doesn’t significantly increase before then. Under phase 2, the maximum number of people allowed to gather shifts from 10 to 50. Non-essential businesses, such as restaurants, gyms and salons, can increase to 50% capacity as long as social distancing is maintained.

Other locations such as community centers, theaters, public pools and higher-ed campuses will be allowed to reopen with additional limits. Fairs, playgrounds, and K-12 schools will remain closed during the phase.

County officials said they would reassess after 14 to 28 days when it will be safe to shift to phase 3. The health department plans to release more guidelines in the coming week.

— Jodi Fortino

Thursday, May 21

7:35 p.m. — Restaurants and bars in Kansas City, Missouri, can soon set up temporary dining areas in parking lots, sidewalks and green spaces. The changes approved by the Kansas City council Thursday will allow establishments to serve more people, while maintaining proper social distance.

Under city guidelines, restaurants and bars must space tables ten feet apart – which can present a challenge for smaller venues. The suite of ordinances approved Thursday would allow restaurants and bars to apply for permits to place tables in parking spots and on sidewalks. The council also approved a measure to allow establishments to continue selling liquor to-go.

City officials also voted on a resolution that they hope will make Cass, Clay, Platte and Jackson counties feel safer sharing their federal coronavirus relief funding with the city.

Mayor Quinton Lucas asked the Jackson County Legislature Monday for nearly $55 million out of the county’s share of federal COVID relief funds to help pay for testing, protective equipment and small business relief among other needs. Kansas City did not receive any direct federal aid.

But legislators raised concerns the county could be liable if Kansas City misuses the money.

The resolution says the city will reimburse counties if it’s found to have spent the money irresponsibly.

— Lisa Rodriguez

7:28 p.m. — The Kansas City Council has approved a $65,000 contract to provide legal assistance to tenants facing eviction.

Many people have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving some unable to pay rent, and a moratorium on evictions in Jackson County ends May 31.

Attorneys can help tenants reach an agreement with landlords before an eviction case comes before a judge. That’s why councilwoman Melissa Robinson says this money is especially important now.

“Oftentimes that mediation is what really keeps so many families in their homes, so I think that this is critically important,” Robinson said.

Some councilmembers objected to signing a contract with the non-profit Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, rather than Legal Aid of Missouri, which already provides free legal services for people living in poverty.

— Lisa Rodriguez

3:10 p.m. — Missouri reported its highest daily COVID-19 death toll so far on Thursday.

The state health department reported 30 new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday. That’s the highest since the pandemic began.

The previous highest number of deaths was on April 24, when the health department reported that 28 people had died.

A total of 661 Missourians have died due to COVID-19. The health department also reported 108 new cases on Thursday.

— Alex Smith

2:35 p.m. — Workers at a second food processing plant in St Joseph have tested positive for the coronavirus.

LifeLine Foods, a corn processing plant, reported three positive cases this week, according to the St. Joseph Health Department. The company mills corn for snacks and masa flours for tortillas, tacos, and tamales.

The other hard-hit plant in St. Joe is Triumph Foods, a pork processing facility. So far, there have been 490 workers who tested positive for COVID-19, making it one of the largest outbreaks in the United States. One man in his 40sdied earlier this month.

Both plants remain open.

— Peggy Lowe

1:35 p.m. — The Kansas City Irish Festival, a major annual event on Labor Day weekend, won’t be held as usual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email sent Thursday, organizers said the festival wasn’t cancelled, but that it will be “reimagining” the event as “smaller, Irish-themed, locally-focused community experiences,” but didn’t offer specifics.

“Obviously, this is not an outcome any of us wanted,” the email said. “However, true to our Irish heritage, we're a resilient bunch.”

The decision was made by the board of directors and officers of the festival after considering the size of the event and citing the unknown restrictions that could be in place at the end of the summer, the announcement said.

— Peggy Lowe

10:45 a.m. — Health officials in Wyandotte County say they will relax more restrictions at midnight on Friday as part of the Unified Government’s next phase of reopening.

The county’s move is in line with Kansas’ transition to Phase 2 of Gov. Laura Kelly’s gradual lifting of statewide stay-at-home restrictions.

“The local data supports further re-opening of our community, and the Governor’s Phase 2 plan strikes the appropriate balance between public health and economic activity at this time,” Dr. Allen Greiner, Chief Medical Officer of the Unified Government Public Health Department, said in a statement Wednesday.

In this new phase, many businesses that had previously been closed for weeks during shutdown orders — including museums, movie theaters and casinos — can now open, as long as they keep six feet of social distance between customers.

Restaurants are also allowed to operate dine-in service but must have physical barriers between individual customers or groups of patrons.

Places still not allowed to open under this new phase include large entertainment venues, public swimming pools, bars and nightclubs.

— Kyle Palmer

Wednesday, May 20

4 p.m. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas sent a letter to Jackson County legislature Wednesday requesting an expedited disbursement of $27.1 million in federal CARES Act funding to the city.

The request is roughly half of the $54.5 million Lucas requested when he presented in front of the legislature Monday.

The letter asks that the funds be dispersed at their next regular meeting to cover “hard costs” of this pandemic already incurred by the city, including overtime pay for first responders and aid for small businesses.

Funding would also include nearly $10 million for testing and contact tracing, $12.5 million toward protective equipment for first responders and $3 million for facilities sanitation.

The county has so far received more than $120 million in federal coronavirus relief money, but through a quirk in the law, Kansas City was not earmarked any of that funding.

— Noah Taborda

10 a.m. — Air travel has plummeted since the start of the pandemic, and Kansas City International Airport is moving to restart some important flights soon.

Kansas City Aviation deputy director Justin Meyer says flight capacity in June is 70 % below a year ago. Departures will fall from 165 a day last June to just 55 next month.

Before the pandemic, he says, airport officials hoped to add more flights to Europe, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Now, the ambitions are far more humble.

“Really our focus is getting back to what we had and some of the important routes that we had,” he told KCUR.

Among the routes Meyer highlighted as being most important to get back on track were flights to Boston.

Meyer says he’s working with companies in the Kansas City area that book the most travel to restore service to needed destinations.

— Lisa Rodriguez

Tuesday, May 19

1 p.m. — A Kansas City, Missouri, City Council committee will introduce a resolution Tuesday that aims to compensate Jackson County if the city misspends money used to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Mayor Quinton Lucas asked the county Legislature Monday for nearly $55 million out of the county’s share of federal COVID relief funds to help pay for testing, protective equipment and small business relief among other needs.

But legislators raised concerns the county could be liable if Kansas City misuses the money.

“I think this is a very reasonable request. That means that I understand that there may be disagreements. I just want to make sure we get money to the groups that need it the most, the fastest,” Lucas told KCUR’s Up To Date Tuesday.

Jackson County received more than $120 million in federal pandemic relief funds, but Kansas City got no money directly in the first round of relief funding

— Jodi Fortino

11 a.m. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that Missouri’s application for additional federal food aid for low-income students had been approved.

But the Missouri Department of Social Services won’t say how much food assistance eligible families will receive. A spokeswoman said DSS did not want to make the amount public until they’d finished coordinating with state education officials.

The funds are meant to pay for meals students would’ve eaten at school in March, April and May.

Kansas’ application was submitted after Missouri’s and approved last month. Kansas families are getting lump sum payments of $291 per child loaded directly onto their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards.

In both states, families newly eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will have to wait until they get a card to receive the pandemic benefits.

Brent Schnondelmeyer of the Local Investment Commission said many low-income families haven’t received any pandemic aid yet.

“Depending on when this (food assistance) is delivered, this will be pretty consequential for many families because you may still be waiting for the unemployment check to arrive. You still may be waiting for your stimulus check to arrive,” Schondelmeyer said.

— Elle Moxley

Sunday, May 17

Some Kansas City bars opened for the first time in two months on Friday. But business was sparse.

Harry’s Country Club in the River Market neighborhood was empty in the afternoon, normally a time when it would be packed. At the Phoenix in downtown Kansas City, a few scattered patrons sat across from the bar while sidewalk seating and the patio out back were empty.

Further south at Taps on Main, owner Grant Tower said he was surprised more bars weren’t reopening right away.

“We’re a young business,” he said. “So we’ve got to do everything we can to get through this.

Friday, May 15

A stay-at-home order issued by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas in March expired at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Here's a rundown of key metrics in the city's fight against COVID-19.

Stay-at-home orders have also begun to lift for Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

1:45 p.m. — The Mid-Continent Public Library on Monday will begin to offer curbside services at all branches, so customers can pick up on-hold materials. Patrons will just need to call in advance or on arrival, and staff will deliver materials curbside.

Also on Monday, the Johnson County Library will start taking book drops at the Blue Valley, Lenexa City center, and Monticello branches. Holds will be available to pick up at drive-thru windows on Tuesday, May 26.

The Kansas City Public Library will begin a phased reopening on Tuesday with “Pop In/Pick Up” holds service. Patrons will be able to pick up holds at five locations, including the downtown Central Library, Bluford, Plaza, Trails West, and Waldo branches. Hours will be limited to 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays. Pickups at other locations will be offered in June.

The Olathe Public Library is working on a phased plan to offer holds and checkouts at the end of May. All Kansas City, Kansas Public Library locations and book drops remain closed until further notice.

— Laura Spencer

Thursday, May 14

8:50 p.m. — A new outbreak of COVID-19 that Johnson County Health officials are calling the county's “first workplace-associated cluster” has been discovered at a distribution center in Olathe.

In a statement Thursday evening, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said nine workers at the center had tested positive for the disease. Two-hundred other employees were being tested.

The county’s statement did not identify the employer or owner of the distribution center. The county said the employer had “fully cooperated to mitigate additional cases.”

It’s unclear if the center is currently still in operation.

— Kyle Palmer

7:10 p.m. — The scene of a Prairie Village pickleball bust is back open.

In March, just as emergency pandemic orders in Johnson County were beginning, police broke up pickleball games at Meadowbrook Park, near 91st and Nall, involving a couple dozen players.

It was all very friendly as police officers handed out flyers reminding the players that gatherings over ten people were prohibited.

This week the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District began opening some outdoor facilities.

In addition to the pickleball courts, tennis courts will also be open. Only singles play is allowed at this time. Basketball courts remain closed for now

Sam Zeff

6 p.m. Kansas City, Missouri, will extend a hiring freeze until at least August 15 to save some money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kansas City Council implemented a 60-day hiring freeze back in March, when they passed the city budget. Mayor Quinton Lucas says that measure paused the creation of any new positions and directed the city manager to refrain from executing any new contracts.

The finance department told the city council this week that if they make that freeze permanent, it could save the city about $1.3 million. So far there hasn’t been discussion on a permanent freeze.

On Thursday, the council also approved a measure asking staff to expedite permits for street and sidewalk cafes to allow restaurants more outdoor seating.

Lisa Rodriguez

1:45 p.m. — Johnson County could be facing a revenue loss of $24 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s not as bad as originally feared, and the county has a plan to deal with the downturn.

Budget Director Scott Neufeld told the Johnson County Commission on Thursday that his fears about a big drop in property tax collections so far aren’t coming to pass. Originally, he was worried that property tax payments might be down by $5 million or more but now he’s thinking they will only drop by about $1.5 million.

Sales tax collections are still uncertain and could be down by nearly $11 million, he said. Total revenues are estimated to be down by about $24 million, including interest on the county’s investments and various department revenue losses.

The county has a plan to save nearly $25 million, through furloughs, not filling vacancies and with project reductions or deferrals.

“Obviously to come up with $25 million in cuts, it hasn’t been easy,” County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson told the commission, but she said it is doable.

— Lynn Horsley

9:45 a.m. — As Kansas City area stay-home orders are relaxed, more farmers markets are starting to open.

The Lenexa Farmers Market opens Saturday, May 16, at the parking garage of Lenexa’s civic campus at 87th Street Parkway and Winchester Street. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon, with the first hour reserved for elderly or at-risk shoppers. Fifteen vendors will be on hand and will be spaced at a safe distance from each other. Shoppers are encouraged to pre-order products.

Olathe’s Farmers Markets will have a “soft” opening with some vendors on Wednesday, May 20, and then a bigger opening on Saturday, May 23. Hours are 7:30 a.m. until items are sold, at both locations: Stagecoach Park, 1205 E. Kansas City Rd., and Black Bob Park, 14500 W. 151st Street, Field One.

Overland Park opened its Farmers Market several weeks ago for drive-thru only at the Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd. On Saturday, May 16, the city will begin to allow walk-up shopping at that location. About 50 vendors are expected, and they are encouraged to space customers, assisting one family at a time at their booths.

— Lynn Horsley

Wednesday, May 13

4:50 p.m. — The Missouri Gaming Commission has extended its order for all riverboat gaming casinos to remain closed through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 31.

The commission had previously ordered the state’s riverboat casinos to temporarily suspend their operations and close effective midnight March 17, 2020, because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Dan Margolies

1:15 p.m. — More than a fifth of Missouri students lack sufficient broadband to do schoolwork online, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I don’t think it’s as bad as one in five not receiving any learning,” Commissioner Margie Vandeven told the State Board of Education on Tuesday. “It’s one in five do not have internet access. There are a lot of packets and manual delivery.”

School leaders have indicated that the biggest barrier to connectivity is affordability. It’s a problem that cuts across urban, suburban and rural Missouri, said Tim Arbeiter with the Department of Economic Development.

DESE has been working with schools to come up with short-term solutions, like distributing mobile hotspots and equipping buses with Wi-Fi. But educators predict the pandemic will disrupt the 2020-21 school year, too, meaning Missouri students will continue to need the internet to learn remotely.

— Elle Moxley

9:15 a.m. — Kansas City police continue to lightly enforce parking regulations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

KCPD told the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday that in March, just as the city was entering the state-of-emergency, the department issued 4,2173 parking tickets.

Last month, it wrote only 316.

Tickets are being written mostly for blocking hire hydrants, intersections and handicapped parking.

— Sam Zeff

Tuesday, May 12

9:20 a.m. — All hands in the Jackson County Health Department have been pulled in to do contact tracing for COVID-19 cases and that means other services are on hold.

Jackson County Health Director Bridgette Shaffer told the county legislature Monday that includes all of the department’s nurses.

“That means all of our public services like immunizations and STD clinic are closed,” she said.

The legislature was set to vote on using $5 million in federal money to create a 50-person contact tracing unit, but the ordinance was held because some legislators suggested that might be too much to spend.

Legislators did approved $1 million to buy personal protective equipment for county first responders and $250,000 to deep clean county buildings and build screens for county workers who have regular contact with the public.

— Sam Zeff

7:30 a.m. — COVID-19 has turned up in the downtown Jackson County jail.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Sheriff Darryl Forte said three inmates are in isolation after testing positive and seven others are quarantined because of potential contact with the virus.

The Lincoln County jail northwest of St. Louis said yesterday 34 inmates and five staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

In all of the state prison system, the Missouri Department of Corrections says it has only seen about 70 cases among staff and inmates.

— Sam Zeff

Monday, May 11

11:30 a.m. — To varying degrees, Jackson County residents are ready to go back to work, spend more time outside, eat out, shop and get manicures, according to the results of a community survey released Monday morning.

But only with one or more conditions in place, such as:

  • social distancing;
  • masks;
  • changes in the way a business, restaurant or public space is laid out;
  • limits on numbers of people in a space at one time.

The survey asked residents how they feel about the reopening of community businesses, places of work and public spaces. Some of the key findings:

People are already comfortable in parks and outdoor spaces. Of 11 categories, this was the only one where a majority of respondents (over 50%) said they feel safe without new requirements.

Using public transit and going to airport seem to concern the most people. About twice as many said they would not feel safe taking mass transit or going to KCI until additional safety measure were in place, with almost as many saying they wouldn’t feel safe using these facilities until there was a vaccine.

More than 90% of those who replied said they would feel safe going into retail businesses or back to work with some of the safety modifications back in place.

There is more trepidation when it comes to bars, restaurants and personal services. Considerably more than half of the respondents say they need safety precautions before they will patronize area eateries and watering holes.

An interactive display of the survey and its results broken down by geographical areas is available at on the Jackson County website.

— Laura Ziegler

Friday, May 8

4:45 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says he’ll proceed with a plan to reopen more businesses on May 15, despite several recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in Kansas City. Lucas said he’ll announce guidelines for bars and restaurants to reopen on Monday.

The city started allowing some non-essential businesses to reopen last week … but places like gyms, bars and restaurants have had to wait.

Now, Lucas says he is going to give more guidelines for those businesses, which will be allowed to start opening Friday.

The mayor’s plan, so far, has allowed businesses to operate as long as they limit the number of customers inside to 10 people or 10% of capacity.

Though the city plans to reopen more fully this Friday, Lucas still recommends that those who can work from home continue to do so and to limit non-essential outings.

— Jodi Fortino

Thursday, May 7

6 p.m. Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas says the city is monitoring a cluster of COVID-19 cases at a senior living facility in the Northland.

Lucas announced Thursday that the health department is testing residents at the McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff senior living facility in the Northland, after the facility's health care staff notified the health department of several positive cases.

So far, seven residents and four staff members have tested positive, but the city is still awaiting full testing results. There are 80 residents at the facility.

Because they haven’t started contact tracing, Lucas said they still can’t determine whether this cluster has spread further into the community.

Lucas said these new cases, along with another outbreak that affected about 60 Kansas City residents who work at a pork processing plant in St. Joseph, complicate the city’s re-opening plan.

Lucas said city officals had been prepared to issue guidance Friday for gyms, bars and restaurants to re-open May 15.

“With the work that our health department is doing now to make sure we can contain an outbreak, I’m not sure if we’ll be prepared to give that guidance tomorrow, so therefore I’m not sure that we’ll be in a position to say that some of those business should open next Friday,” Lucas said.

Kansas City, Missouri, lifted some restrictions for some non-essential businesses on Wednesday, although gyms, bars and playgrounds remain closed.

— Lisa Rodriguez

1 p.m. — Some Johnson County government buildings that have been closed for weeks during the COVID-19 pandemicstart to reopen on Monday, May 11 as the county’s stay home order is lifted.

The County Administration Building in Olathe reopens to the public, along with motor vehicle offices in Olathe and Mission.

The New Century and Executive airports also reopen Monday.

The 10th Judicial District court services continue to operate virtually.

Many other government offices are still closed, including the county’s Election Office in Olathe, which is only open to the public by appointment.

— Lynn Horsley

7 a.m. — The St. Joseph, Missouri, Health Department has confirmed that a man who worked at a Triumph Foods processing plant has died of COVID-19.

The department said the man was in his 40s. He tested positive for the disease on April 22 and had underlying health conditions.

The state has tested more than 2,000 Triumph workers over the past week, with more than 400 testing positive, including several dozen who live in the Kansas City metro.

Triumph initially told workers who tested positive they could return to work as early as Monday of this week if they hadn’t shown symptoms, but later pushed that back to Thursday.

A petition for the plant to close for a week for deep cleaning has received more than 900 signatures as of Wednesday night.

— Sebastián Martínez Valdivia, KBIA

Wednesday, May 6

6:40 p.m. — More Missourians needing help to pay for child care will now qualify for state assistance.

Low-income families searching for work can receive a temporary Child Care Subsidy benefit for up to 90 days. During a news conference Wednesday, Missouri Department of Social Services Acting Director Jennifer Tidball said the state received $66 million in federal funding to expand eligibility.

The state raised income limits from 138% of the federal poverty level to 215%. A family of four with an income of $56,330 can now get temporary assistance. Previously the cutoff was more than $36,156.

“Today, families who did not previously qualify for a child care subsidy payment, may now qualify,” Tidball said. “Many families eligible for this transitional child care program will also see an increase in the benefit amount.”

Child care providers that are open can also receive a one-time payment ranging from $1,000 to $7,500, based on the number of children served.

Eligibility income guidelines are on the department’s website.

—Aviva Okeson-Haberman

4:50 p.m. — Prairie Village may be the first city in the metro to require face masks when people go to stores.

The City Council this week voted 11-1 to direct its staff to draft an ordinance, and councilmembers plan to take up the measure at its May 18 meeting.

Still, Mayor Eric Mikkelson said such an ordinance could be an "enforcement nightmare." And Police Chief Tim Schwarzkopf was opposed, saying during Monday’s meeting that it would be difficult to enforce.

Also Monday, the council voted to keep the municipal pool closed this summer. City staff said it would be hard to hire enough people to enforce social distancing.

— Sam Zeff

2:50 p.m. — Jackson County Executive Frank White on Wednesday unveiled more details of the first phase of his county’s reopening plan, which will begin Monday, May 11.

White said under phase one of Jackson County’s plan “most retail stores, personal service providers, restaurants and bars selling food will be allowed to reopen,” as long as they limit capacity and continue to encourage social distancing among patrons.

The plan calls for places of business smaller than 10,000 square feet to limit occupancy to 25%, and for businesses larger than that to limit occupancy to 10%.

Certain businesses, including gyms, entertainment venues and outdoor playgrounds, will remain closed for now.

— Kyle Palmer

6 a.m. — Dozens of Kansas City, Missouri, residents who work at a pork processing plant in Saint Joseph have tested positive for COVID-19.

The city health department said on Tuesday that it received names of about 60 Kansas City residents among the 412 workers who tested positive at the Triumph Foods plant.

About 2,400 workers have been tested since last week after some employees became sick. All of the newly diagnosed cases are asymptomatic, according to the Missouri health department.

Health experts say that people without symptoms can transmit the virus. The Kansas City Health Department says it expect to be informed of more infected residents in the coming days.

— Alex Smith

Tuesday, May 5

6:20 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas quietly relaxed his rules for business reopening Wednesday.

While stores will still have to limit the number of customers inside to 10 people or 10% of the building capacity, whichever is higher, they will not be forced to collect contact information from people inside longer than 10 minutes.

The order Lucas signed Monday says businesses “should consider” maintaining a record of customers. That record could help the city Health Department trace cases of COVID-19 should another outbreak occur.

Wednesday marks the start of the city’s “soft” reopening but many businesses told KCUR they plan to remain closed for now, with some business owners expressing confusion about the city’s guidelines. Others say they are still coordinating plans with local business associations.

— Lisa Rodriguez

12:20 p.m. — Officials at the Kansas City Zoo say they hope to reopen to the public when the city’s stay-at-home order lifts next week.

Zookeepers, in fact, say the animals are eager for people to return. Speaking with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date Tuesday, Chief Zoological Officer Sean Putney said the experience for visitors will be different to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“All of our buildings will be one way. We’ll limit the number of people who can come through the zoo. We've talked about time ticketing and the number of people here. Closing off certain things that people would touch on a consistent basis, like feed machines and drinking fountains,” he said.

Putney said the zoo had approximately 950 visitors per day before the pandemic, a figure they hope to get back to again to avoid potential budget cuts.

— Noah Taborda

9:15 a.m. — The Missouri Supreme Court has issued an order, effective May 16, authorizing Missouri courts to gradually resume operations that were previously suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order states that courts should monitor local conditions on a regular basis and may move to a new operating phase only after at least 14 days have elapsed with no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

It also said that courts should allow “vulnerable individuals" to postpone their presence at court proceedings; follow social-distancing protocols and consider requiring the use of masks; clean and disinfect common areas; and consider providing hand sanitizers and wipes in courtrooms.

— Dan Margolies

7:20 a.m. — The Kansas City Local Investment Commission, or LINC, has furloughed 472 part-time employees who usually provide after school care in six metro school districts.

Deputy Director Brent Schondelmeyer said LINC continued to pay employees after schools closed in March but could not afford to do so after May 1.

“We’ve been trying to help our staff obtain the available unemployment by doing a mass filing, which just makes it easier to access the system, which is overloaded by everything else that’s going on,” he said.

LINC’s after school programs are free for families. Schondelmeyer says furloughing workers now will ensure LINC has the financial resources to operate the child care sites when schools can reopen.

— Elle Moxley

Monday, May 4

5:50 p.m. — Missouri announced its biggest single day increase in COVID-19 cases on Monday, the same day that phase one of Gov. Mike Parson’s reopening plan began.

Missouri’s state health department announced 368 new COVID-19 cases have been identified. The news came as businesses across the state reopened and restrictions on social gatherings were lifted as part of Parson’s Show Me Strong Recovery plan. The previous highest count came on Saturday, when 319 new cases were announced.

Missouri also announced 6 new COVID-19 deaths on Monday, for a total of 358. Kansas’s health department announced 215 new cases and 2 new deaths on Monday.

— Alex Smith

4:20 p.m. — The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced temporary salary reductions for all faculty and staff Monday, as part of the school’s ongoing attempts to deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus.

The reductions, announced in an email to faculty and staff, include a 7.5% across-the-board reduction for those who make between $50,000 and $100,000, and a 10% reduction for those who make more than $100,000.

Employees who make less than $50,000 are excluded.

In the emailed statement, school officials, including Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, said the pay cuts are planned for all of the next fiscal year but are currently only activated for the next three months. The statement said the cuts could continue beyond that depending on quarterly checks with each department.

The pay cuts were announced days after UMKC said it would give 75 maintenance employees one-week furloughs.

— Noah Taborda

KCUR is an editorially independent service of UMKC.

3:30 p.m. — Some Jackson County seniors can defer their 2019 property tax payments after a vote by the Jackson County legislature Monday.

The change is intended to help seniors better cope with any financial struggle caused by the pandemic.

Seniors who pay their property taxes in installments can defer the payment usually due at the end of this month to August.

The legislature also briefly discussed a proposal to spend $5 million on contact tracing but decided to hold off on a vote until next week.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

1:15 p.m. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Kansas’ application for additional federal food aid for low-income children while schools are closed.

Families eligible for the funds will get a lump sum payment of $291 per child to cover meals that normally would have been eaten for free at school in March, April and May.

Harvesters Community Food Network spokeswoman Sarah Biles said that money gives people more flexibility to choose foods that work for their diets.

“It also helps loosen the burden on nonprofits like Harvesters as far as having to fill the huge demand we’re seeing,” Biles said.

Families already receiving federal food assistance will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer later this month. Newly-eligible families will have to wait for an EBT card. Schools are working to identify families that have been impacted by job loss since the pandemic began.

Missouri submitted its application for pandemic food relief before Kansas, but the USDA hasn’t approved it yet.

— Elle Moxley

10:20 a.m. — The Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors has launched a Musicians Assistance Fund to support the jazz community during the coronavirus pandemic. The non-profit organization, which publishes Jam Magazine and hosts monthly events, will offer $150 "gig grants," comparable to the pay for a four-hour gig.

“With clubs like the Blue Room, Green Lady, the Majestic, Chaz, Café Trio, Gaslight Grill and others all closed, our talented jazz musicians have no place to work,” said KCJA president Mark Edelman in a release.

Previously, the organization has provided support for musicians to pay bills or for medical emergencies, Edelman said.

“But these are unprecedented times,” he said. “Our board decided it was time to pull out all of the stops and distribute as much money as we could.”

Jazz musicians are eligible to apply if they played 25 or more gigs in the last year. And members of the community are encouraged to bolster the fund with a donation to the “Virtual Tip Jar.”

— Laura Spencer

9:15 a.m. — As the metro starts to reopen, officials are now thinking about contact tracing. Jackson County Monday is poised to spend $5 million dollars on the effort.

Part of the reopening process around the metro includes customers leaving their phone or email with business owners just in case they come in contact with someone in the store who tests positive for COVID-19.

The person who would track them down is called a contact tracer.

The Jackson County Legislature will consider a plan to create a 50-person unit in the Health Department to do just that.

The plan calls for 32 so-called disease investigators plus managers, support staff and equipment like masks, gowns and gloves.

It will be paid for using the $123 million the county is getting in federal CARES Act money.

— Peggy Lowe

Saturday, May 2

11:55 a.m. — Jackson County, Missouri, is joining Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas in ending its stay-at-home order on May 11.

“The community’s compliance to the stay-at-home orders have been effective in flattening the curve, allowing us to make plans to move forward in a smart and safe manner. But we must do so with caution," County Executive Frank White, Jr. said in a news release. "The COVID-19 virus is still in our community and we will need everyone’s continued cooperation to protect public health. Our future is in our hands.”

The county said it would release more details, but that its reopening plan will "largely mirror many of the components of the plans announced by Johnson and Wyandotte counties."

The county also asked residents "to help finalize the recovery plan" by taking a brief survey.

— C.J. Janovy

8 a.m. — The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners has tabled recommendations by the Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force and instead will follow the phases of Gov. Laura Kelly’s Reopening Kansas plan.

In a news release, spokeswoman Lori Sand said commissioners appreciated the work of task force members, but following the governor's plan "will eliminate confusion about which businesses will open in which phase."

"The biggest change from the county’s proposed plan," Sand said, "is that Phase One will no longer include the opening of personal service businesses where a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained (such as hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage therapy businesses, tattoo shops) as well as gyms, bars, outdoor playgrounds and sports courts; those will now open in Phase Two, no sooner than May 18."

— C.J. Janovy

Friday, May 1

4:50 p.m. — The University of Missouri announced Friday it will cut 49 positions to eliminate a $17 million shortfall.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the four UM System campuses — Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis and Rolla — submitted plans Thursday for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“So we only have two months to handle a $36 million gap which is across the University of Missouri System,” he said.

In Columbia, MU Health Care eliminated 32 positions across management, administration, hospitals and clinics. School of Medicine faculty and staff are taking pay cuts or unpaid furloughs.

The four campuses will need to cut another $36 million before the fiscal year rests July 1.

— Elle Moxley

1:35 p.m. — Stay-at-home orders expire Sunday at midnight in Kansas and Missouri.

On Friday, at a press conference outside Memorial Auditorium in Kansas City, Kansas, elected officials and health department leaders from Johnson County and Wyandotte County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri, announced a coordinated extension of stay-at-home orders through May 10. A phased reopening of businesses is scheduled to start on May 11.

“The rationale for this extension is based on data,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, Wyandotte County’s chief medical officer, “and the conditions we are seeing in the community with COVID-19.”

According to Greiner, the metro area has “passed the curve, the peak of the curve of deaths and hospitalizations,” but, he said, caution is important.

“Our county, Wyandotte County, has been the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the metropolitan area,” he said. “We are working hard to protect the vulnerable segments of the population, as are our partners in Johnson County and Jackson County. We’re making progress, but we’re not in the clear yet.”

Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. reflected on the ongoing metro-wide coordination, which launched on March 22.

“We knew these stay-at-home orders would not be easy, but it was necessary to save lives,” said White. “Today, we can say that due to these orders, and tremendous sacrifices that have been made by so many in our community, that we have saved lives.”

He added, “The fight against COVID-19 is not over.”

The city of Kansas City, Missouri, has a stay-at-home order in place through May 15. But, starting May 6, some city businesses will have a slight easing of restrictions, subject to wearing masks, social distancing, limited visitors, and contract tracing.

— Laura Spencer

12:15 p.m. — Small businesses in Kansas City, Missouri, suffering amid the coronavirus shutdown can now apply for loans up to $25,000.

The Kansas City Council approved $500,000 for the loan program back in March, but contract negotiations between the city and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, which was tapped to administer the program, held up the money.

The Mayor’s office confirmed to KCUR Thursday that a contract had been signed and the funds transferred.

In a press release Friday, EDC Interim President and CEO T’Risa McCord announced that they’re ready to accept applications.

“While it may be a while before we know the full impact of COVID-19 on the Kansas City economy, the Mayor, City Council and the EDC recognize that small businesses are the lifeblood to our city, and sometimes these businesses don’t have access to the same resources as larger ones,” McCord said in the statement.

To apply, businesses must be within Kansas City, Missouri, limits, have $750,000 or less in annual revenue and have been deemed non-essential under the city’s stay-at-home order.

Eligibility requirements, loan terms and applications are available online. Paper applications will also be available at the EDC at 300 Wyandotte.

— Lisa Rodriguez

11:25 a.m. — The Kansas Department of Corrections tested 240 inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility in northeast Kansas earlier this week, about 14 percent of the prison’s population.

Seventy-five percent of that sample were positive but asymptomatic. The agency said it will test the remaining 1,000-plus inmates at Lansing over the next 14 days, and place the whole prison under quarantine.

The state said it will monitor all positive cases, including those showing no symptoms. One-hundred and sixty staff and inmates across four Kansas prisons have tested positive for the coronavirus — less than half have recovered and two have died.

— Nomin Ujiyediin

6:25 a.m. — On Friday, department heads at UMKC are expected to present their recommendations for budget cuts directly linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Administrators are asking for cuts in the range of 12.5% to 17.5%. Layoffs and furloughs are expected.

A document posted on UMKC’s COVID-19 resource site for employees outlined policies for furloughs. Short-term furloughs will be for one week per month; long-term furloughs will be for two or more weeks.

UMKC spokesman John Martellaro said other cost-cutting measures are also being considered. UMKC officials say they still plan on students returning to campus this fall but instructors are urged to prepare for remote learning in case of a second wave of the coronavirus.

KCUR is an editorially independent community service of UMKC.

— Bill Grady

Thursday, April 30

8:30 p.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has announced her plans for a phased-in reopening. The governor’s plan — essentially it lets retailers, restaurants and churches ease into a new normal — comes despite Kansas lagging other states in testing for COVID-19 and growing outbreaks clustered near meatpacking plants. Read more here.

Wyandotte County has extended its stay-at-home order until at least 11:59 p.m. on May 10, while the ReStart WYCO Committee has issued a detailed planoutlining a four-phased approach to reopening:

  • A slightly relaxed “Red Zone” calls for the highest level of caution for vulnerable populations, including residents over 60 years old, people whose immune systems are compromised and those with underlying medical conditions.
  • The “Yellow Zone” relaxes stay-at-home requirements even further, allowing more businesses to remain open “under caution.”
  • The “Green Zone,” the least restrictive phase, does away with most restrictions.

Dr. Allen Greiner, the county’s chief medical officer, said that COVID-19 data, including the number of hospitalizations, positive tests and deaths over a 14-day period, will determine when it to move from one phase to another.

— Dan Margolies

11:30 a.m. — The Johnson County Commission has confirmed that the county’s stay-home order will remain in effect until May 11.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is expected to end the state’s stay-home order as of May 4, but the county will keep its order in place one more week. Joseph LeMaster, Johnson County’s public health officer, said waiting another week would allow the county to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 and was in the best interest of protecting the public’s health.

A phased reopening plan will start to take effect beginning May 11, with most businesses allowed to reopen but with social distancing and other restrictions.

Several commissioners were very frustrated about the one-week delay, saying the economy has suffered a terrible blow from the shutdown.

“What is the magic of waiting seven more days?” Commissioner Mike Brown asked. “The economy is not being factored into this decision.”

But the decision stands. The Johnson County Commission planned to finalize the phased reopening plan Friday, after more details come from Gov. Kelly’s announcement Thursday night.

— Lynn Horsley

11 a.m. — Johnson County’s long-term care facilities are generally doing a good job containing the coronavirus, according to Health and Environment Director Sanmi Areola, but Brighton Gardens in Prairie Village is still dealing with an outbreak.

On Monday, KCUR reported that Brighton Gardens of Prairie Village had 21 cases. As of Thursday, Areola said, the facility had 32 positive cases, including staff and residents. The county is providing 230 test kits to test every resident, Areola told the Johnson County Commission on Thursday.

He said all residents who test positive are being isolated to contain and minimize the virus spread, he said. Numbers of cases at facilities are posted on the Johnson County website.

Brighton Gardens, which is owned by Sunrise Senior Living in McLean, Virginia, which operates 325 facilities throughout the United States, is one of three facilities that account for half the COVID-19 deaths in Johnson County long-term care centers.

On Friday, Johnson County will have another drive-thru testing opportunity for 200 “essential” workers.

The county so far has tallied 462 positive virus cases, and 5,316 negatives, for an 8 percent positive rate. It has had 40 deaths.

— Lynn Horsley

Wednesday, April 29

7:45 p.m. — As some nonessential Kansas City businesses get set to reopen next week, a new survey from the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce shows many businesses are optimistic when it comes to moving beyond the initial coronavirus restrictions.

The survey, which drew responses from 565 area employers, showed that more than half of employers expect that within six month, their demand will match what they saw in February. And 90% said they expect to rehire all staff that was laid off.

However, there are concerns among minority- and women-owned businesses. Only half expect they will retain between 75% to 100% of their staffing, and 50% called for more dedicated government funding.

The chamber says the survey data will be used to inform coronavirus recovery plans at the federal, state and local levels.

— Noah Taborda

4:30 p.m. — The Kansas City Health Department has completed the last of seven pop-up tests for the coronavirus. The department partnered with local health organizations to administer 500 tests over three days. People with and without symptoms were tested in medically underserved communities.

Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
Jordan Held, a third-year medical student at UMKC, assisted with drive-through COVID-19 testing in the parking lot of Independence Boulevard Christian Church on Gladstone Blvd., in Kansas City Missouri.

Deputy health director Frank Thompson said they encountered some obstacles reaching people in the eight designated zip codes.

“The fact that the only method for registering other than showing up here on site was to go on a website created a barrier for folks who have limited or no internet access,” he noted.

Thompson said additional testing will be available soon for residents in 15 zip codes with the highest number of cases.

— Noah Taborda

2 p.m. — A Kansas City Council committee passed a resolution Wednesday addressing a spike in domestic violence cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They're up by 22 percent, according to Kansas City Police.

Under the resolution, the city manager would be directed to look into the increase and possible prevention measures. Jane Brown, general counsel for the mayor’s office, told council members federal stimulus funds could help pay for the effort.

“(The) police department could be reimbursed if, in fact, they have had overtime related to domestic violence calls they might not otherwise have had,” she said.

The committee recommended the full council adopt the resolution immediately. It's expected to be on Thursday's council agenda.

— Bill Grady

12 p.m. — Nearly 28,000 Kansans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week. That’s down — but only slightly — from the past two weeks. Still, it represents nearly a 2,000 percent increase over this time last year.

Nearly 220,000 Kansans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. That’s when public health orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus shut down business across the state.

The Kansas Department of Labor has struggled to process the flood of claims because of an aging computer system and staffing shortages.

Agency officials say they’re now starting to clear the backlog. But social media complaints indicate that people still have problems getting through on the phone and filing claims online.

— Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

10:30 a.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will announced details of what his office calls a “soft reopening” plan on Wednesday at noon.

Lucas has extended Kansas City’s stay-at-home orders to May 15, along with Jackson County. But every other county around the metro is currently set to follow both Kansas’ and Missouri’s statewide orders and ease restrictions Monday, May 4.

The Johnson County Commission is set to take up its own plan to restart the county’s economy at its meeting Thursday.

— Kyle Palmer

Tuesday, April 28

9:45 p.m. — Platte County’s stay-at-home orders will now end Sunday, May 3, at midnight.

Platte County had been in line with Kansas City, Missouri, and neighboring Jackson County, which have extended their stay-at-home restrictions to May 15.

But in a vote Tuesday, the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees voted to launch Phase 2 of the county’s COVID-19 recovery plan. This will allow businesses to reopen and restaurants to start offering dine-in services for the first time in nearly two months.

Platte County’s amended order keeps social distancing guidelines in place and still prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.

For businesses in Platte County but within the Kansas City limits, the city’s extended May 15th order still applies.

Read KCUR's FAQ: When And How Parts Of The Kansas City Metro Will Reopen

— Kyle Palmer

8:30 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said coronavirus hospitalizations across the state are down significantly since peaking in early April. That figure is one of four key indicators state health officials are monitoring in the lead-up to the end of statewide stay-at-home orders Monday morning.

In his daily press briefing Tuesday, Parson said hospitalizations from COVID-19 were down in every region of the state, except St. Louis. In Kansas City, they have fallen 41% since their peak three weeks ago.

“The overall trend is that the data shows that Missouri’s health care system is under control. Our hospitals are not overwhelmed and things are improving," Parson said.

However, some health experts warn the state’s rate of testing is still far too low to get an accurate picture of how widespread the disease is in Missouri. And opening up businesses next week could spark a new wave of cases.

— Kyle Palmer

5 p.m. — COVID-19 deaths in Wyandotte County nursing homes continue to climb, according to new data released by the Unified Government.

Thirty residents of the Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation have died. It’s the largest cluster of coronavirus cases in Kansas.

Unified Government public health officials said Tuesday there have also been five residents and four staff who tested positive at the Life Care Center. Two of those residents passed away.

The third hard-hit home in KCK is at Delaware Highlands, where 16 residents and two staff are positive for COVID-19.

— Peggy Lowe

6:15 a.m. — A deeply divided Jackson County legislature on Monday said it had no confidence in the county’s Finance and Purchasing Director.

The resolution said legislators were worried that Bob Crutsinger would be unable to accurately track millions of COVID-19 federal relief money that will pour into the county.

Crutsinger works for County Executive Frank White who said in a statement he has “full confidence” in the finance director.

— Sam Zeff

Monday, April 27

6:30 p.m. —Missouri Gov. Mike Parson released the state’s recovery plan Monday for opening businesses after the statewide stay-at-home order expires late on the evening of Sunday, May 3.

The order allows churches and businesses such as gyms, hotel swimming pools and salons to open if local county or city policies allow. Social distancing guidelines, which require individuals to stand six feet apart, are still in place. Schools will remain closed for this academic year but can open for summer school.

Retail shops also can open. However, owners must limit the number of customers based on their building’s capacity.

“Some communities may be able to reopen at a faster rate while others may need to continue some guidance to keep the virus from spreading,” Parson said during a press conference.

Kansas City’s stay-at-home order is set to end May 15.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

5:15 p.m. — The city of Olathe is furloughing most of its workers for two weeks, including the city manager, due to a significant drop in sales tax revenue caused by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

About 600 full-time employees and 250 seasonal and part-time employees will be affected, according to city spokesman Tim Danneberg. The two weeks of furlough will be staggered and won’t impact front-line police officers and firefighters.

The city has a roughly $18 million general revenue shortfall. The furloughs are expected to save the city roughly $1 million, Danneberg said. The city is also implementing a hiring freeze and capping spending on non-personnel related expenses.

"At this point in time we are not eliminating poistions but we do believe the two-week furlough of all of those employees, other than police and fire, will help us fill the gap that we need to fill," City Manager Michael Wilkes said last week during a city council presentation.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

1:45 p.m. — University of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self, football coach Les Miles and Athletics Director Jeff Long are taking a 10% salary reduction over the next six months in response to the financial hit of the coronavirus.

The reductions are expected to save the athletics department almost a half-million dollars. Self’s base salary this year is more than $3.9 million. Miles, who is coming off his first season as a coach, earned more than $2.7 million. Long, who earns $1.5 million annually, says the department is evaluating the possibility of additional salary cuts for athletic staff.

— Greg Echlin

11:55 a.m. — Update to the post immediately below:

By 11:45 a.m. Monday, the Kansas City Health Department announced on Twitter that all 500 testing slots in the three-day, COVID pop-up sites had been filled.

In a tweet, the department said they would work with the state to coordinate future pop-ups.

— Lisa Rodriguez

10:55 a.m. — Kansas City, Missouri, is offering free COVID-19 testing at four pop-up sites this week.

Residents do not need to be showing symptoms to get tested, but they must be at least 7 years old and pre-register. The Kansas City Health Department hopes to reach people in “medically underserved” parts of the city, especially residents in zip codes 64106, 64123, 64124, 64126 and 64127.

“We know there are populations in our city and state that face more obstacles than others as they try to get tested or seek help for COVID-19,” deputy health director Frank Thompson said in a statement. “Some have transportation issues; many don’t have health insurance to pay for a test or may wait until they are in critical condition because of medical costs.”

Residents who pre-register can get tested at one of the following sites Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:

  • Antioch Crossing parking garage (behind the former Sears store;) 5415 NE Antioch Rd.; Monday only, 11 a.m.– 4 p.m.
  • Sun Fresh Grocery Store parking lot, 3110 Prospect; Monday 1 – 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • KIPP Endeavor Academy Charter School, 2700 E 18th St.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
  • Independence Boulevard Christian Church, 606 Gladstone Blvd.; Wednesday only, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Kansas City has 500 kits for this testing initiative. To get an appointment, complete this registration form.

— Lisa Rodriguez

Sunday, April 26

4:45 p.m. — The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has identified COVID-19 outbreaks in at least 11 nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the county.

According to JCDHE figures released late Friday, at least 25 people at eight different facilities have died from the disease. The highest single concentration in the county is at Forest Creek Memory Care in Overland Park, with 24 infections and 7 deaths as of Friday.

Overall, there have been at least 110 cases –including deaths—identified in 11 nursing home facilities in the county.

“The facilities identified [sic] have worked diligently to mitigate the spread of disease, following CDC and KDHE guidance and infection control measures as directed and protecting their population,” the JCDHE said in a statement online.

In neighboring Wyandotte County, attention remains focused on Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation. The Kansas City, Kansas, facility has recorded at least 28 deaths of patients and nearly 130 infections of both patients and staff.

— Kyle Palmer

3 p.m. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lauded a retired farmer from northeast Kansas who mailed him a single N-95 face, saying it should be used by a doctor or nurse in that hard-hit state.

“Enclosed find a solitary N-95 mask left over from my farming days,” said the letter, written by Dennis Ruhnke, and co-signed by his wife, Sharon. “It has never been used. If you could, could you please give this mask to a nurse or a doctor in your city.”

Cuomo tweeted an image of the letter.

“It’s that love, that courage, that generosity of spirit that makes this country so beautiful,” Cuomo said, after reading the complete letter at his daily press briefing Friday.

Reached by phone by the Associated Press, Ruhnke said he began looking through his old farming equipment after watching the news and hearing about the need for N-95 masks, which provide more complete protection than regular surgical masks or cloth masks.

“I would have felt terrible if I threw it away, but it made me feel pretty good to send it on to somebody who might be able to use it,” he told the AP.

— Kyle Palmer

8:50 a.m. — A widely-used academic model of the COVID-19 pandemic suggests it could be mid- to late June before Kansas and Missouri can safely start to ease social distancing recommendations aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

The state-by-state analysis from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says states should not relax social distancing guidelines until infections fall below one per 1,000,000 people.

The model currently projects Missouri won’t reach that point until June 10, and Kansas will not be there until June 21.

Both states are set to end their current stay-at-home orders on Sunday, May 3, and the governors of both states have said a phased reopening of their economies will follow.

Still, researchers at the University of Washington say that states should keep containment measures like testing, contact tracing and limits on large social gatherings, in order to decrease the likelihood of another wave of cases.

— Kyle Palmer

Saturday, April 25

10:35 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is extending a state of emergency prompted by the coronavirus epidemic to June 15.

However, Parson said Friday his statewide stay-at-home orders are still set to expire May 3, with many businesses allowed to reopen on May 4.

There will be social distancing guidelines in place after stay-at-home orders end, and Parson said he plans release more details about that next week.

Still, Parson has indicated businesses like hair salons and fitness centers will be allowed to open despite not being able to practice strict social distancing. He said he may offer some guidance and require protective equipment, but it’ll largely be up to businesses.

— Kyle Palmer, Jaclyn Driscoll

Friday, April 24

5:05 p.m. — A special committee of officials from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, are meeting to discuss how the Unified Government will go about a relaxing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing non-essential businesses to reopen.

Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey said the ReStart WYCO Committee is not being tasked with determining a timeline for the reopening. Those decisions will be made by Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer for the Unified Government.

“The mission of the ReStart WYCO committee is to outline the steps we need to take as a community to slowly and carefully begin reopening businesses and getting people back to work,” Dr. Greiner said in a release. “We need people to continue strict social distancing and be vigilant. There are a number of practical details to work.”

President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City, Kansas, Daniel Silva, a member of the committee, says he understands there is pressure to ramp up economic activity. He says half of his members are small businesses, with employees of 25 or less. But he says medical and public health experts are the ones to decide when it is safe to relax restrictions, based on data about infection and exposure rates.

Silva says the charge of the committee is to establish best practices and guiding principles once a timeline has been set.

“First and foremost, we will advocate for testing and figuring out a way to (inform) people if they are negative or not,” he said. “The other piece is [outlining] a phased-in approach. It won’t be just turning the switch on and all the lights are on. It has to resemble more of a faucet, turning it on a little bit at a time based on size, employee count, and type of industry.”

— Laura Ziegler

2:20 p.m. — Kansas City officials hope to get an emergency small business loan fund off the ground within the next week.

The city council appropriated $500,000 for the fund in March – but so far, no loans have been distributed.

AJ Herrmann is the mayor’s policy director. He told KCUR because the Missouri constitution bars cities from giving funds directly to individuals or businesses, the $500,000 will actually serve as leverage for private loans.

“The loan loss reserve fund will backstop a much larger pool of capital, so the hope that there will be more than $500,000 available in small business loans,” Herrmann told KCUR's Up To Date Special Coverage: Coronavirus In Kansas City.

Herrmann didn’t indicate where the private capital might come from. On Thursday, the Economic Development Corporation, which was tapped to run the loan program, said they were unaware of the reserve fund set-up until they received a contract from the city this week.

— Lisa Rodriguez

11 a.m. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas on Friday announced appointments to the city’s Health Commission as the city continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Lucas said the new appointees will include public health experts in areas of infectious disease, trauma, support for survivors of domestic violence, nursing home, housing and education advocates and more.

“Kansas Citians can be proud of the varied backgrounds of our health commissioners,” Lucas said in a news release. He praised the appointees' dedication to the “many physical, mental and social health challenges our communities face.”

The city health commission consists of 17 voting members and is appointed by the mayor in consultation with the city health Ddrector.

Commissioners are volunteers who serve a three-year term.

— Laura Ziegler

Thursday, April 23

5:05 p.m. — Kansas City will close some streets to traffic to create more space for people to exercise outside safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The public works department will temporarily close the following streets:

  • Kenwood Avenue: 39th to 43rd St. (Gillham Park Area)
  • Brookside Road: Meyer to Gregory Blvd and 77th to 83rd St. (Trolley Track Trail Area)
  • River Front Drive: Union Berkley Riverfront Apartments east to dead end (Berkley Riverfront Park Area)

The roads will still allow access to local traffic and emergency vehicles. KC Parks is also closing roadways in several city parks, including Swope Park and Blue Valley Park.

Additionally, neighborhoods will be able to apply for block-level closures at no cost – those permits will be available by the end of day Friday.

To prevent people from touching hard surfaces, pedestrian crossings at 100 intersections will be programmed to switch automatically so people don’t have to press buttons. Finally, the city is encouraging everyone to walk or run counterclockwise on all loop trails across the city.

The closures will last through the end of the stay-at-home order May 15.

— Lisa Rodriguez

3:10 p.m. — Some Kansas City health professionals fear that May 4, the date Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has said businesses can begin reopening, may be too early.

Charlie Shields is president of Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, where stay-at-home orders have been extended to May 15. He says he’d like to see the downward trend of infections from COVID-19 continue before opening the state up, as well as more personal protective equipment and rapid testing measures for doctors.

“The other part that I think is going to be critical is that tracking capability. Once you have a person test positive, you can figure out everybody they've come in contact with and begin isolation,” he told KCUR's Up To Date Thursday.

Shields also said Truman could receive rapid testing equipment that could get results in as little as 45 minutes by the end of this week.

— Jodi Fortino

10:35 a.m. — The number of people filing for first-time unemployment claims continues to skyrocket.

Nationally, 4.4 million people applied for benefits in the last week. In total over the last five weeks more than 26 million people have filed jobless claims.

In Kansas, almost 32,000 people went on the jobless rolls. That is down about 2,000 from last week.

Some 53,000 Missourians applied for benefits last week. That is a drop of almost 50,000 from the previous week.

— Sam Zeff

7:10 a.m. — The University of Missouri announced that it is planning to resume in-person classes in the fall for its Columbia campus.

The University says it is working with public health officials and their own health care experts in developing systems to protect students and staff when they return.

University of Missouri spokesperson Christian Basi said that there are several hundred employees on campus working to clean and disinfect before students return. Basi said that they are also developing new social distancing procedures which may impact the manner in which classes are taught, including limiting the number of students that can be in a classroom.

Basi wouldn't give a specific date as to when faculty and staff will begin returning to campus.


Wednesday, April 22

8:58 p.m. — Both Cass and Clay Counties announced they were aligning their stay-at-home orders with Missouri’s order, which is in effect through May 3.

The change represents more time for stay-at-home orders in Cass County, originally set to expire April 24, but less time for Clay County.

Following the recommendation of county health directors in the region, Clay County had previously extended its order to May 15, keeping it in line with Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted his disappointment with changes.

“I badly want our region to get back to work but the tradeoff cannot be someone losing their parent, partner, child or friend to COVID-19,” Mayor Lucas said. “We will continue to listen to our public health professionals not the political winds as we work to protect our community’s health.”

Both counties cited new case data and modeling trends as reasons for amending their stay-at-home orders.

— Noah Taborda

7:02 p.m. — A nurse who had cared for a COVID-19 patient in a Kansas City, Missouri hospital has died from the disease.

Celia Yap Banago had expressed concern about the lack of personal protective equipment for medical staff at Research Medical Center, according to the National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in the country.

Banago, a registered nurse, died on Tuesday evening. She worked at the hospital for 40 years and was scheduled to retire next week.

HCA Midwest, which operates Research didn’t respond immediately to media inquiries on Wednesday evening, but in a recent statement claimed that its Kansas City area hospitals had adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.

— Alex Smith

6:33 p.m. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson said most businesses across the state will be able to reopen their doors on May 4, when the statewide stay-at-home order is scheduled to end.

"We're working on the policy and the guidelines for that, but I will tell you almost every business in the state of Missouri will be able to open their doors," Parson said during his daily briefing. "People will go back to work. There will be some guidelines we'll have with that, but the majority of them will be open."

Parson emphasized that social distancing would remain in effect “for some time” and will be essential to a successful reopening.

— Noah Taborda

5:10 p.m. — A cluster of COVID-19 cases among workers at the Kellogg’s bakery in Kansas City, Kansas has grown to 10.

Unified Government officials said on Wednesday that a disease investigation at the bakery is still ongoing as the number of confirmed cases has grown.

Kellogg’s Senior Vice President Kris Bahner said that the company has contacted people who may have been exposed to the virus. Bahner says the bakery is continuing to operate under safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

— Alex Smith

4:30 p.m. — A Kansas City council committee advanced an ordinance Wednesday to invest $800,000 from the Health Levy fund into expanded coronavirus testing, contact tracing and other public health measures.

The funds will target vulnerable populations in 15 zip codes. Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said the areas include those most affected by the virus.

“Four of the zip codes have been the hardest hit: The 3rd district as well as parts of the 5th district,” she said.

Robinson added that while these zip codes are the focus for now, the ordinance allows the flexibility for funding in other areas of the city should it be needed.

— Noah Taborda

3 p.m. — An EMT with the Kansas City Fire Department who died last week from COVID-19 was laid to rest Wednesday at Forest Hill Cemetery.

Billy Birmingham, 69, is Missouri’s first line-of-duty death related to the coronavirus for a first responder since the pandemic began.

Kansas City Fire Chief Donna Maize said, normally, hundreds of firefighters from around the country would attend the funeral for someone who died in the line of duty.

"We just told people to stay home,” she said.

Local departments helped staff Kansas City’s department so Birmingham’s colleagues could attend the funeral.

— Sam Zeff

Members of the Kansas City Fire Department try to maintain social distance as they wait for a caravan of vehicles escorting Billy Birmingham's body to Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.
Sam Zeff
Members of the Kansas City Fire Department try to maintain social distance as they wait for a caravan of vehicles escorting Billy Birmingham's body to Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.

11 a.m. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $4.13 million to Missouri to combat the COVID-19 epidemic in rural communities, according to a department press release.

The money was funneled through the department’s Health Resources and Services Administration, which received $150 million through the CARES Act to assist hospitals nationwide. The money can be used for testing and laboratory services as well as the purchase of personal protective equipment.

— Dan Margolies

6:30 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has issued an order honoring a Kansas City EMT, who died last week from the coronavirus.

Parson ordered U.S. and Missouri flags be flown at half-staff at all government buildings in Jackson, Platte, Cass, and Clay, Counties and at fire houses across the state today in honor of Billy Birmingham.

Birmingham had worked as an EMT in the Kansas City Fire Department since 2010. He died last Monday after responding to several service calls in which there were patients who also tested positive for COVID-19.

His death is the first known line-of-duty death of a first responder in Missouri during the pandemic. Birmingham's funeral will be held today.

— Bill Grady

Tuesday, April 21

4:45 p.m. — A coalition of local advocacy groups is asking Kansas City-area officials to take concrete steps to address the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on the region's black community.

The infection rate among black Kansas City residents is about 84% higher than the infection rate for white residents, according to statistics from the city health department.

The groups sent a letter on Friday to Mayor Quinton Lucas, city council members and other area leaders. The letter outlines a series of suggestions, such as reducing barriers to COVID-19 testing, more protections for essential workers and directing funds to anti-racism training for healthcare providers.

The coalition includes Uzazi Village, Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet, Blaqout, The Baobab Project and the Kansas City Association of Black Social Workers.

“We're all under the same (stay-at-home) order, but we don't all have the same power to respond to it the same,” Uzazi Village CEO Hakima Tafunzi Payne told KCUR. “The pandemic is just magnifying those systemic inequities that have basically always existed in our society.”

— Chris Haxel

4 p.m. — The state of Missouri is suing China for that country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. It’s the first such lawsuit brought by a state.

In the suit, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, blames China for letting coronavirus spread. He’s suing: China; three Chinese government ministries; two local governments in Wuhan, where the outbreak began; two laboratories; and the Communist Party. All in U.S. District Court.

“There’s been untold suffering across the globe, including here in Missouri, and we want to hold them accountable for that,” Schmitt told KCUR.

But China is a sovereign state and is protected by sovereign immunity, which would mean that Missouri has no right to sue China, even in American courts.

Schmitt said he thinks Missouri’s lawsuit is valid based on the claim that some entities he’s going after are commercial enterprises or non-state actors.

— Frank Morris

2 p.m. — The Johnson County Health Department said it plans to continue testing randomly selected residents for the coronavirus.

The department said as of Tuesday 4% of the more than 350 residents sampled have tested positive for the virus. Sanmi Areola, director of the county health department, said the test results are promising and show the impact of the metro-wide stay-at-home orders currently in place.

Areola said he hopes to soon see even more testing done in the county.

“If you let your foot off the pedal, it's very easy to lose the gains that you have made,” said Areola.

Johnson County announced last week it will follow Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s extended statewide stay-at-home order through May 3 and not yet extend the restrictions to May 15, as has been done in Kansas City, Missouri, and several other metro counties.

— Jodi Fortino

11 a.m. — Congress is considering a new coronavirus relief package that would provide an additional $450 billion, the majority of that going to small businesses keep their doors open amid the pandemic.

The Paycheck Protection Program would receive the largest chunk, approximately $300 billion with another $50 billion going to the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund.

Speaking with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date, Rep. Sharice Davids, Democrat of Kansas, said Congress needs to send a clear message of bipartisan support for the package.

“I think it's important that it's a bipartisan piece of legislation,” Davids said. “We need to make sure that we are sending clear messages to the leadership of both our parties that we need to get relief to small businesses now.”

Davids added while the relief package may keep some small business doors open for now, more funding will be needed later.

— Noah Taborda

8:20 a.m. — The Jackson County Legislature approved $450,000 Monday for emergency housing for the homeless who test positive for COVID-19.

The money will pay for up to 50 homeless or nearly homeless people to say at the Salvation Army’s Three Trails Camp on East 40 Highway.

The county says it expects to be reimbursed by the federal government.

Earlier this month, the Kansas City Council approved $80,000 to house up to 30 homeless people at the Roadway Inn on Admiral Blvd.

— Sam Zeff

7:30 a.m. — The FBI has sent out another warning for consumers to be on the lookout for COVID-19 scams.

Some scams come to your email and some come right to your door, spokesperson Bridget Patton from the FBI's Kansas City Field Office said in a video statement Monday.

“Beware of individuals who contact you offering to sell you a COVID-19 test kit. Scammers are selling fake, at-home test kits. Some are even going door-to-door performing fake tests for money.”

In just the last few weeks, Patton says, the FBI has received over 1,000 complaints about coronavirus scams.

— Sam Zeff

Monday, April 20

7:30 p.m. — Johnson County, Kansas is starting to plan how to slowly reopen businesses.

The Johnson County Commission formed a task force Monday to guide the county in how to ease COVID-19 restrictions. The commission will have to approve task force recommendations.

“We know there’s been a lot of sacrifice. We know the economy is struggling,” County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson said. “This task force allows the county to look forward and the task force will have to balance the health management with the recovery of the economy.”

The makeup of the COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force, however, was a point of contention. Commissioner Mike Brown wanted to include more businesses that have been significantly affected by the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus. The 14-member group includes the public health director, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce president, the Prairie Village mayor and a hospital executive.

“There are a whole bunch of highly educated, smart people on this list but as far as I can tell there’s not very much business representation on this list and I’m really, really struggling with that,” Brown said.

Jackson and Clay counties in Missouri don’t have an equivalent task force, although both counties are reaching out to community leaders.

“The county has been in discussions with leaders across the region, including representatives from organizations such as the Greater Kansas City Chamber and the Mid-America Regional Council about the possibility of forming a regional group to plan for the metro area’s reopening,” Jackson County spokeswoman Marshanna Smith said in an email.

Clay County has a plan for the phases of reopening in “development” that “ includes feedback from community leaders like city mayors,” according to a spokeswoman with the county public health department.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

3:20 p.m. — Missouri tenants lined I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis Monday to demand Gov. Mike Parson cancel rent statewide for the duration of the state of emergency and the recovery period.

Jenay Manley is a leader with tenant advocacy group KC Tenants. She says with kids home from school, many renters are faced with additional expenses and less income.

“There are families who are covering the cost of food now for two extra meals that they weren’t expecting to cover,” Manley said.

Manley said canceling rent payments will take action from the state government — not reliance on landlords' generosity.

“As a collective, landlords are there for a profit, they are not there to take care of people — that’s the government’s job,” Manley said.

The coalition of tenants says any rent suspension policy should come with a fund for landlords to recover losses. While protesters further east did not report issues, several Kansas City-area organizers were told to leave the interstate by law enforcement.

The groups are also asking for a statewide eviction moratorium, a ban on utility shutoffs and expanded services for people experiencing homelessness.

— Lisa Rodriguez

Renters protest along the side of I-70 at the 148 exit near Mexico, Missouri. Advocacy groups are pushing Gov. Mike Parson for a moratorium on rent payments during the COVID-19 crisis.
KC Tenants
Renters protest along the side of I-70 at the 148 exit near Mexico, Missouri. Advocacy groups are pushing Gov. Mike Parson for a moratorium on rent payments during the COVID-19 crisis.

11:45 a.m. — Leaders at the University of Missouri-Kansas City have asked all academic departments and administrative units to cut their budgets by between 12.5% and 17.5% as the school tries to weather the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email message to faculty and staff Monday, UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said the cuts could lead to layoffs, furloughs, reductions in adjunct instructors and non-tenure-track faculty, increased faculty teaching loads, frozen stipend offers for graduate students and a "significant reduction" in non-compensation expenses.

"I don’t have to tell you that this process will be challenging. Every academic and administrative unit at UMKC will be impacted by this process," Agrawal wrote in the message.

— Jodi Fortino

Sunday, April 19
10:45 a.m. — Two churches, one in Dodge City and one in Junction City, don't have to follow Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly's executive order. That's according to a federal judge in Wichita, who issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday in a lawsuit involving the churches.

The judge said the churches highlighted a “live controversy” over whether the state can restrict religious organizations from holding gatherings of more than 10 people, saying Kelly’s executive order operates as a “wholesale prohibition.” He also said other things, like airports and production facilities, aren’t held to the same standard.

Kelly, however, said in a statement late Saturday that the April 7 order, which added church services and funerals to the limited gatherings, wasn’t about religion, but public health.

The judge, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, has scheduled a hearing Thursday on whether to place broader hold on the executive order.

— Erica Hunzinger

Saturday, April 18
9:10 a.m. — A new update of an influential COVID-19 model shows Kansas and Missouri may be near the peak of per-day deaths.

The International Health Metrics and Evaluations model, created by the University of Washington, was updated Friday afternoon.

It estimated that Missouri reached its highest number of daily fatalities Tuesday, while Kansas’ most deadly day is expected to be Sunday.

The model shows that both states may be able to safely ease some social distancing measures on June 1 if testing is widely available, they’re able to trace contacts of patients who’ve tested positive, keep coronavirus patients isolated and continue to limit the number of people who can gather.

Before Friday’s update, the well-regarded model showed Kansas and Missouri would reach peaks at the end of April.

— Alex Smith

Friday, April 17
3:45 p.m. — Two Missouri advocacy groups have sued to make absentee ballots available to voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The class action lawsuit in Cole County was brought by the NAACP of Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Missouri and three individuals. The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition.

“Requiring voters to be physically present at their traditional polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic — where they will be congregating and waiting in line with others in order to vote — is contrary to the advice of public health experts and puts people’s health at risk,” the ACLU of Missouri said in a statement.

Elections in Missouri are scheduled in June, August and November. The suit seeks a declaration that eligible voters isolating themselves because of the pandemic can invoke Missouri’s confinement-due-to-illness reason to cast an absentee ballot.

— Dan Margolies

2:20 p.m. — Starting Friday, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, in coordination with the Kansas City Health Department and Mayor Quinton Lucas, will close roads to vehicle traffic in a few area parks.

Barricades will close roads in Swope Park at East Meyer Boulevard and Swope Parkway, and Blue Valley Park at 2301 Topping Avenue, to create “wide open spaces to enjoy the outdoors.”

Stay-at-home orders in Kansas City, Missouri, and Jackson County have been extended through May 15, but spending time outside – with social distancing – is still strongly encouraged. The road closures are expected to allow more room for area residents to exercise.

— Laura Spencer

1:05 p.m. — For now, Johnson County and Wyandotte County, Kansas, have not extended the stay-at-home order beyond May 3 for business closures and distancing rules. This date lines up with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s order.

On Thursday, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, and Jackson County Executive Frank White extended the stay-at-home order until May 15.

The Shawnee Mission Post reports that Johnson County Commission chair Eilert told commissioners on Thursday that the “extension from the county’s previous April 23 end date would give officials time to collect data before deciding whether to continue the order another two weeks.”

— Laura Spencer

9:35 a.m. — Due to COVID-19, Symphony in the Flint Hills has canceled its annual event, which features a sunset concert by the Kansas City Symphony in the Kansas Flint Hills.

“The decision to cancel the 2020 Signature Event is heartbreaking, but the health and well-being of our audience, performers, and the communities of Wabaunsee County and the Flint Hills region are of utmost importance to us,” Leslie VonHolten, executive director of Symphony in the Flint Hills, said in an update on the organization's website.

The daylong event usually draws about 7,000 people each year. Ticketholders will receive a refund through EventBrite through May 30, or the cost of the tickets can be donated to the organization.

— Laura Spencer

Thursday, April 16

Metro Kansas City's stay-at-home orders are in effect.

4:20 p.m. — The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has postponed this year’s outdoor performance of “The Tempest,” with John Rensenhouse as Prospero, scheduled from June 16 to July 5 in Southmoreland Park to the summer of 2021.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” Sidonie Garrett, executive artistic director, said in a news release. “But as Kansas City deals with issues related to the COVID-19 virus, we were faced with immediate challenges like uncertainty about the availability of space to create the production, guidelines regarding safe public gatherings this summer, and other logistical issues involved in successfully producing a performance.”

The festival will continue to offer summer classes as virtual sessions, as well as other online programs and events.

— Laura Spencer

3:40 p.m. — Following Kansas City, Missouri’s lead, Jackson County on Thursday announced it was extending its emergency stay-at-home order to May 15.

The announcement follows the recommendation of metro public health leaders and directors of county health departments in the nine-county metro region.

“Now is not the time to let up. By extending the order past our anticipated peak date, we can further reduce transmission of the virus and begin re-opening our community in a smart and safe manner,” Jackson County Executive Frank White said in a statement.

The county’s extended order expands the list of essential businesses that can operate in a scaled-down manner, including realtors, funeral homes, cemeteries and moving companies.

— Kyle Palmer

3:05 p.m. — Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City is trying to get money to students who need help paying for food, housing and child care because of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Chancellor Kimberly Beatty said the college is also trying to figure out how to provide emotional support after it emerged as a need after surveying students.

“Our Foundation came up with the idea of helping out the local restaurants at the same time by doing meal vouchers, but it turned out that wasn’t really the top need our students indicated," Beatty said.

MCC is supposed to receive $4.3 million for student support from the stimulus package. But until those federal dollars arrive, Beatty said the MCC Foundation is kicking in to provide short-term assistance.

Students who expressed a need when surveyed will get $120 in meal vouchers, up to $350 for rent and up to $400 for child care.

In the fall, MCC students who struggled when classes moved online to slow the spread of coronavirus will be able to retake those classes face-to-face. Beatty said there will be another round of emergency grants then, too.

— Elle Moxley

2:40 p.m. — As of Thursday, Kansas had nearly 1,588 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 80 deaths from the coronavirus.

Most of Northwest Kansas counties have no reported cases. But Ford, Finney and Seward counties have seen an increase in cases this week, including coronavirus cases at all three meatpacking plants in Dodge City and Liberal.

Meanwhile, the number of cases at the state men’s prison in Lansing in Leavenworth County has risen to more than 30 staff members and nearly two dozen inmates. Some medical professionals from the Kansas National Guard have been deployed to the prison.

— Corinne Boyer, Kansas News Service

10:35 a.m. — Kansas City officials will vote Thursday on the possibility of strategic street and lane closures to allow more space for people to run and walk outside.

Some city councilmembers said they’ve heard from residents that certain parks and running trails have become too crowded to maintain proper social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other councilmembers, including Katheryn Shields, say they don't think Kansas City has a problem with having enough space.

If the full council approves the resolution, the public works department will seek input from neighborhood leaders and offer ideas for temporary closures.

— Lisa Rodriguez

7:45 a.m. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says he will extend the city’s stay-at-home order to May 15.

He says there is a consensus among local health officials. “Frankly, nothing is more important that nine public health directors from nine different counties here in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, our own health director in Kansas City, Missouri, have suggested that we take these key and important steps,” he told KCUR.

Lucas will make the announcement at a noon news conference at city hall downtown.

— Sam Zeff

Wednesday, April 15

Metro Kansas City's stay-at-home orders are in effect.

8:20 p.m. — Black residents in Wyandotte County make up more than half of the county’s 362 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two-thirds of its 31 deaths. But only about 23% of Wyandotte County’s population is black.

The Unified Government Public Health Department began adding race to its coronavirus reporting on Wednesday.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Greiner said in a news release that “protecting and supporting underserved communities that already suffer from inequitable health outcomes and higher than average levels of chronic disease is more important than ever.”

Across the country, data shows that black people are disproportionately getting the coronavirus. Kansas City, Missouri, black residents have 44% of the city’s cases, but make up just 30% of the population.

And in the entire state of Kansas, state numbers show black residents are three times as likely to test positive for COVID-19 as white people, and 10 times more likely to die.

Wyandotte County’s Latino population is 28%, but the health department said Latinos make up 15% of positive cases. It cautioned that the rate is more likely due to fewer Latinos being tested for coronavirus, rather than a “lower proportion of illness.”

Mariana Ramírez, the director of JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health in Kansas City, Kansas, said that many black and Latino residents in Wyandotte County are “frontline workers whose jobs allow us to keep functioning as a society.

“We can’t fail them,” she said in the news release.

— Erica Hunzinger

5:20 p.m. — Kansas will remain under a statewide stay-at-home order for at least two more weeks. On Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced the extension to her executive order through early May.

While Kelly said it would end May 3, her chief counsel noted that May 1 is the technical expiration date because her state of emergency declaration ends that day.

“None of our internal predictions indicate that Kansas will peak by April 19,” Kelly said of Sunday, when her initial statewide order was set to expire.

She’s facing pressure from House Republicans to reopen the Kansas economy, and said Kelly said she’s talking about how to do that with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Kansas City area mayors.

“We believe a regional approach will reduce confusion and help keep our communities safe on both sides of the state line,” Kelly said.

— Noah Taborda

4:55 p.m. — Rainy Day Books launched a GoFundMe page Monday asking the community to help keep the store open amid the pandemic.

Since stay-at-home orders went into effect last month, the Fairway bookstore has been reduced to a “skeleton crew” and faces a potential six-month revenue shortfall from canceled author appearances and other in-person events.

The store's President & founder Vivien Jennings believes people in the community value the store.

“And not only what we’ve done previously and contribute but also what we are capable of contributing going forward," she said.

Jenning said money from the GoFundMe will go toward rent, inventory and, as things ease up, increased staffing. She notes the store still plans to celebrate 45 years of business this November.

— Noah Taborda

2:00 p.m. – Stimulus checks started arriving in Missourians’ bank accounts Wednesday, but only for those taxpayers who provided direct deposit information to the Internal Revenue Service.

The $1,200 stimulus payments are expected to take longer to reach individuals waiting on paper checks.

That’s most of the families Stacy King works with. She's director of Family and Student Services for the Center School District.

“My families just don’t have the banking access,” said King. “They’re going to the Price Chopper on 85th Street to get their paycheck cashed.”

She’s especially worried about families that were at risk of homelessness before the pandemic. King said getting $1,200 now versus a month from now could be the difference between staying in their home and having to move into a hotel.

“I wish there was a better way to make sure that those families have what they need in a timely fashion,” King said.

On KCUR's Up To Date Wednesday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt said when lawmakers reconvene next month, they will consider whether to provide additional support.

Blunt said the fund for small businesses is almost depleted, and Congress may need to appropriate more.

Anyone unsure of the status of a stimulus payment can get information on the IRS website.

– Elle Moxley

11:35 a.m. — Kansas City officials will discuss Wednesday how the city can alleviate overcrowding in city parks and trails.

Councilman Eric Bunch said some other cities, like Denver and Oakland, have closed streets to traffic to give people more space to walk and run in public. “Because they see that there is a desperate need for getting people outside, but doing so at a safe physical distance,” Bunch said.

Short of blocking streets, Bunch said the city could implement lane closures to widen sidewalk space.

The city’s transportation, infrastructure and operations committee will discuss Bunch’s proposal Wednesday.

— Lisa Rodriguez

10:30 a.m. — Boulevardia, the city’s annual beer, food and music festival, has been canceled for 2020. The 7th annual gathering was scheduled for June 19–20 at a new location: Grand Boulevard, at Crown Center and Washington Square Park.

“We realize the impact this decision makes on our charity partners, vendors, makers, and patrons,” organizers wrote in an email. “This decision was made with respect to the ever-changing public health situation and with the goal of allowing our community time to focus on their personal health and well-being and in the interest of bringing this festival back in 2021.”

Tickets and hotel packages purchased through the Boulevardia website will be refunded, with processing expected to take about 10 to 14 days.

— Laura Spencer

Tuesday, April 14

Metro Kansas City's stay-at-home orders are in effect.

5:25 p.m. — More area companies have begun making reusable masks for residents to wear per CDC guidance. As KCUR previously reported, sewKC is selling masks for $15 for pickup or delivery. The organization says it will donate one mask to the local community for each purchase.

  • Made in KC is selling several sizes of masks, but they are on back order until April 22.
  • Sew What?, a company based in Lee’s Summit, has masks available in several athletic team-related designs, with an expected order-to-ship time of three days. Prices range from $6.50 per mask to $9.
  • Local clothing shop Charlie Hustle has three-packs available for $25. The company says it will donate one mask to local essential workers for each mask purchased.

— Chris Haxel

2:05 p.m. — Public health and elected officials from across the metro will gather at the end of this week to make recommendations on a timeline for reopening Kansas City businesses.

Dr. Rex Archer, Director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department told KCUR there will be some requirements before they give the green light:

  • Public health infrastructure must include enough personal protective equipment to minimize illness among providers;
  • More testing is needed to prevent further community spread;
  • There will likely continue to be certain restrictions, including limits on the number of people who can gather in one establishment, as well as social distancing enforcement.

Archer emphasized there are no concrete plans at this time.

“Whatever we do, it may become an on-and-off situation where we open some (businesses) and see how that works, open a few more, and we may have to close some back down," he said.

— Laura Ziegler

12:05 p.m. — The Kansas Supreme Court has expedited arguments in a case brought by inmates alleging conditions in Kansas prisons have put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

In an order released Tuesday, the state's high court set oral arguments for the case Wednesday, April 15.

The inmates are variously seeking early release, mitigation efforts, a plan to isolate inmates who have been exposed or contracted the virus, a plan for social distancing and unrestricted access to soap and other sanitizing products.

— Dan Margolies

11:45 a.m. — The coronavirus pandemic will delay getting more police officers on the streets of Kansas City.

There were two classes of recruits moving through KCPD’s academy in the Northland, but Chief Rick Smith told the police board Tuesday that all of them are now quarantined.

Smith says some recruits tested positive for the virus, so KCPD shut down training and quarantined everyone.

The chief said some junior class members are doing online training but things like weapons and driving can only be done at the academy.

A KCPD spokesman said they still hope to graduate one class in early May. Meanwhile, 65 current KCPD members, both sworn officers and civilians, are under quarantine.

— Sam Zeff

10:20 a.m. — The Shawnee Mission school board has agreed to spend $9 million on new iPads, a decision made largely as a result of COVID-19 pushing more learning online.

The board approved the funding at Monday night's board meeting.

In February, parents urged the board to delay purchasing 19,000 iPads until the district could look at how technology was being used in classrooms. The board agreed then, but soon after that all Kansas schools closed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Board members noted that the district could save at least $1 million by replacing iPads now, money the district could need if the economy worsens amid the pandemic.

— Elle Moxley

6 a.m. — New datareleased by the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department shows black residents are being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures published Monday show 44% of confirmed cases in the city are in black patients, even though black people make up 30% of the city's population.

Kansas City’s preliminary data follows what other states and cities have reported — that the coronavirus is infecting black people at disproportionately high rates. In Kansas, black people make up 6% of the population but about 16% of cases so far.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

Monday, April 13

Metro Kansas City's stay-at-home orders are in effect.

Statewide stay-at-home orders are now in effect in Kansasand Missouri

7:10 p.m. — A Kansas City first responder died Monday afternoon from COVID-19 complications.

Billy Birmingham was an emergency medical technician for the Kansas City Fire Department. Before joining the department in 2010, he had worked with the Metropolitan Ambulance Service since 1998. He was 69 years old.

Birmingham is the first city employee to die from COVID-19.

"His passing represents a personal loss to all of us who knew him and cherished both his friendship and professionalism," Kansas City Fire Chief Donna Maize said in a release announcing the death.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement he was “heartbroken” by the news.

“We all must continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent any further spread of this terrible disease and to best support our first responders and health workers who give it all for us,” Lucas wrote.

The city will turn on the Firefighter’s Fountain and Memorial at Pennsylvania and 31st Street Tuesday in honor of Birmingham’s life and service.

Funeral arrangements and information will follow in the days to come, according to the fire department.

— Lisa Rodriguez

5:15 p.m. — Summer classes at Kansas’ three largest universities will all now be taught online.

All students at Kansas State University will pay the in-state tuition rate for online summer classes, no matter where they live. The university will also reduce the fees students normally pay.

K-State says it hopes making the decision now will give students and faculty time to prepare for summer classes starting at the end of May.

Wichita State University and the University of Kansas announced they would move their summer classes online earlier this month.

— Kansas News Service

4:45 p.m. — The Kansas City area will soon see more COVID-19 testing, according to Lee’s Summit-based Viracor Eurofins Clinical Diagnostics. Testing has been extremely limited, mostly because of shortages in testing swabs and chemicals. But Viracor says it will soon be working with corporations to test employees, especially those in health care and food production.

Viracor Vice President Steve Klieboeker said people working in high-risk environments such as hospitals might need to be tested repeatedly to be sure they aren’t spreading the disease.

“In that type of scenario, I might recommend testing more frequently that weekly, like maybe every third day,” Klieboeker said.

— Alex Smith

3:20 p.m. — Kansas City Public Schools will again distribute meals to students this week after pausing last week after a worker showed symptoms of the new coronavirus.

KCPS officials said that staff member’s COVID-19 test came back negative, so the district plans to resume meal distribution starting tomorrow. The meals can be picked up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at three school sites – Northeast Middle, East High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.

The district is also trying to get a Chromebook to every family so that students can start doing their schoolwork online. Last week Governor Mike Parson announced all Missouri school buildings would remain closed for the rest of the term.

— Elle Moxley

Sunday, April 12

2:40 p.m. — Officials at the Kansas Bureau of Investigations say the number of reports of drivers pulled over by police imposters is on the rise.

"In many of the incidents reported, the impersonator is in a vehicle without official police markings, but emergency lights are used. The impersonator often questions whether the driver’s travel is ‘essential,’ or asks for workplace documentation," KBI officials said in a statement.

Police around the state have taken ten such reports in the last few weeks, including one in the Kansas City area.

So far nobody has been hurt and nothing was stolen.

The KBI reminds travelers that no one needs any specific documentation to travel under the "stay-at-home" order.

— Sam Zeff

Saturday, April 11

10:30 p.m. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly won a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court Saturday that said she holds sweeping powers to shut down operations in the state, including large church services, in the face of a public health crisis.

The high court said that a panel of legislative leaders lacked the power to reverse Kelly’s controversial limits on church and funeral services. She had said the action was needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19.

That meant that late on the night before Easter, Kelly’s order banning church gatherings of more than 10 congregants remained in force.

The ruling forced the justices to weigh in on an issue that tangles together politics, religion and debate about the powers granted to a governor when a deadly pandemic strikes.

— Jim McLean

7:50 p.m. — Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté says there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the downtown jail.

In a Tweet Saturday evening Forte said the person is "a non-inmate."

This is the first case connected with the Jackson County jail, although one Missouri Department of Corrections inmate has died from the virus.

— Sam Zeff

Friday, April 10

4:30 p.m. — The Kansas City Council passed a resolution this week asking the acting city manager to work with downtown neighborhood groups on providing portable restroom facilities and hand washing stations for the homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Councilwoman Andrea Bough said at Thursday's full council meeting that such facilities are already being placed around the downtown area.

“Luckily, staff has been working with our civic partners, and I received today a list of 20 sites where porta-potties have been located already,” said Bough.

The portable sites will give the homeless access to restroom facilities, now that places they previously used, like libraries and coffee shops, are closed during the pandemic.

— Jodi Fortino 

1:30 p.m. — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas continues to climb, and Wyandotte County has the highest number of cases in the state.

On Monday, April 13, the Unified Government's Public Health Department will expand hours for coronavirus testing at a recently launched site at the department's downtown headquarters, 619 Ann Avenue. Testing will be available Monday through Friday, 2-5 p.m.

Officials say priority will be given to people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Wyandotte County residents are advised to self-report symptoms by calling 311 or using a website to receive guidance. The clinic will screen patients and test without a doctor's prescription.

— Laura Spencer

6 a.m. — Johnson County is furloughing 264 employees and cutting some $21 million dollars from its budget, as it anticipates a drastic reduction in tax revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic.

County commissioners signed off on the move Thursday. In a statement, the county said a large portion of those furloughed work for the library system.

The county said, while on furlough, employees will keep their benefits, such as health insurance, and continue to pay their portion of the premiums. 

— Sam Zeff

5:30 a.m. — As many as 50 inmates rampaged through the state prison in Lansing, Kansas, Thursday. They set fires and busted windows in an incident that began in the afternoon and lasted well into the evening.

Several prisoners refused to return to their cells and the tensions escalated from there. Prison officials told the Associated Press that about half of those inmates returned to their cells by 9 p.m.

Prison workers were able to leave the cell house and no injuries were reported.

Inmates’ freedom to move within the prison was restricted this week to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Kansas confirmed its first infection of a prisoner with the coronavirus late last week at Lansing. At last count, 12 inmates and 14 people who work at the prison have tested positive for the virus.

— Kansas News Service

Thursday, April 9

5:30 p.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly sued the GOP-led panel that blocked her order restricting religious services and funerals to public gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

The first-term Democrat didn’t clarify Thursday whether her previous limit on gatherings, which didn’t involve churches, is still in place.

Republican lawmakers on the Legislative Coordinating Council said Wednesday that Kelly's order infringed on religious freedoms just before the Easter holiday. Kelly argued in her challenge that only the full Legislature can revoke an executive order, not the leadership panel.

Many churches already have canceled services or moved them online, and the restrictions didn’t apply to the number of ministers or others producing services.

— Kansas News Service

3:45 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday afternoon that all public schools in the state will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Parson said he made the decision with input from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well as both urban and rural school superintendents. The announcement includes charter schools.

Schools can continue to provide child care and distribute meals.

— Elle Moxley 

12:35 p.m. — The Missouri Department of Corrections says it is instituting a "containment plan" to slow the spread of the coronavirus following the death of an inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

The plan stops short of a lockdown, but will still limit inmate movement and the size of gatherings inside state correctional facilities, said Missouri DOC Director Anne Precythe.

“We’re trying to avoid as much cross-contamination across the entire facility so that should the virus come in we have it isolated to a particular area,” she told KCUR's Up To Date Thursday.

Precythe said 41 inmates have been tested statewide for COVID-19 so far: 32 have tested negative, eight results are pending, with the one confirmed positive. According to the National Institute of Corrections, as of December 2017, Missouri had an inmate population of 32,564. 

— Noah Taborda

8:10 a.m. — The Missouri legislature on Wednesday approved a supplemental budget measure that will supply the state with billions of dollars to help fight the coronavirus.

The plan gives Gov. Mike Parson roughly $6.2 billion to spend on personal protective equipment, field hospitals, the National Guard and much more.

Most of the funds will come through the COVID-19 stimulus package passed by Congress. Though most of that money has yet to reach the state, lawmakers said they hope to receive more guidance by the end of the April.

— Jaclyn Driscoll, St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday, April 8

5:15 p.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly isn’t immediately issuing a new order to ban more than 10 people gathering, after Republican lawmakers Wednesday revoked her statewide order

Kelly called the lawmakers' move a "shockingly irresponsible decision." Kelly's order aimed to keep churches from holding Easter services Sunday. 

Republicans said the state needs to uphold constitutional rights to religious freedom. Kelly says there is now confusion without the ban on gatherings … and that could allow the coronavirus to spread more quickly.

Kelly says her legal counsel is studying how to respond and she’s urging Kansans not to gather in large groups for any reason.

— Kansas News Service

2:15 p.m. — Harvesters is anticipating even greater demand for food now that the Kansas City Public Schools has temporarily suspended its meal distribution program after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. 

Sarah Biles, Harvesters' Director of Communication, said the regional food bank is currently working with Children’s Mercy Hospital and the YMCA to set up additional sites for “kid cafes,” where families can get to-go meals similar to what the school district had been providing.

“We're certainly trying to locate these where we can within neighborhoods, so that people can walk if necessary to pick up these meals,” Biles said.

Last week, Harvesters distributed 1.3 million pounds of food, 400 pounds more than usual. Biles said the food bank has plenty of fresh produce but is struggling to get canned meats, beans and peanut butter.

In the meantime, Harvesters is encouraging families who need additional help because their kids are out of school to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. There’s funding in the stimulus package to help pay for food stamps.

– Elle Moxley

Tuesday, April 7

6:15 p.m. — Overland Park City Manager Bill Ebel has reversed course and will not allow the farmers market there to open this weekend. City spokesman Sean Reilly says complaints began coming in after The Kansas City Star ran a story announcing that the market would open for the season, while others stayed shut.

Even with social distancing precautions, lots of open space, new product wrapping requirements and no entertainment, Reilly says, “The public was extremely concerned. Safety is their biggest issue, and it is for us as well.”

More than two dozen venders are now without a market for their perishable goods. One, Pastimes Farm and Bakery, had more than 300 pre orders lined up for Saturday, Reilly says.

It’s not clear when the Overland Park farmers market will reopen, but Reilly says it won’t be before April 25 and will be later if officials extend state and county stay-at-home orders.

— Frank Morris

4:30 p.m. — One of the first human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine is taking place in Kansas City.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a Pennsylvania biotech company, along with the Center for Pharmaceutical Research, a privately-owned clinical research company in Kansas City, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, are looking for up to 40 healthy adult participants to test Inovio's vaccine, INO-4800.

Inovio expects quick enrollment in the study and safety results for the first phase this summer. If results are positive, they will begin phase two of trials, testing the efficacy of the vaccine on COVID-19.

— Noah Taborda 

2 p.m. — New data from the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department provides further detail about the city's coronavirus outbreak. 

Health officials said Tuesday more than a quarter of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas City are concentrated in the city's Third City Council District, which also has a "a higher percentage of Black/African American residents with underlying health conditions."

Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said she’s not surprised by that but says people all over the city need help.

“We need to be thinking about Kansas City as a whole and thinking about where our weakest links are. So yes, that drives you to where are some of our vulnerable populations but there’s vulnerable populations throughout the city," she said. 

— Sam Zeff and Kyle Palmer

1:15 p.m. — Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City said it is offering free funeral services via live stream in an effort to provide closure for grieving families during the coronavirus shutdown.

Stay-at-home orders in the metro currently limit public gatherings to 10 people or less, including traditional memorial services.

Rev. Duke Tufty said Unity Temple's hope is to provide an opportunity for people to grieve while also helping alleviate financial stress during the crisis.

“Many places a funeral is three, five thousand bucks. And with COVID-19 going on and people out of work the free thing is a big, big benefit to them," Tufty said.

He said their services will be available to anyone. They have both religious and nonreligious options.

— Noah Taborda 

10:25 a.m. — Four people have died and 37 people have tested positive for the virus at the Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation facility in Kansas City, Kansas.

Public health officials at the Unified Government in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, confirmed it late Monday.

Thirty-three of the positive cases are residents, four are staff members. The outbreak surfaced Friday, and a UG spokeswoman says an investigation is ongoing.

The executive director of the facility didn’t return a call seeking comment.

— Peggy Lowe

Monday, April 6

7 p.m. – Kansas City Public Schools is the latest district to suspend meal service for students because a worker is presumed to have COVID-19.

The district made the decision in concert with the Kansas City Health Department.

Between 100 to 130 people on the food services distribution team might have been in contact with the employee, according KCPS spokeswoman Kelly Wachel. She said the district doesn’t “have a whole lot of reason for worry right now” but the district wants to be “really overly cautious.”

In the past two weeks, KCPS has served almost 65,000 meals, according to Wachel.

When we are making the decision about not feeding some of our families, it’s heartbreaking,” Wachel said. “It’s really wrenching for us. It was really hard.”

The district is directing families in need of food assistance to contact Harvesters. Children’s Mercy Hospital is also distributing meals. KCPS  has a list of providers offering free meals on its website.

Last week, Raytown Schools had to stop handing out meals after one of their food service workers tested positive for the new coronavirus.

– Elle Moxley and Aviva Okeson-Haberman

5:35 p.m. — Patients at the Lupus Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis are struggling to access an anti-malaria drug they rely on after President Donald Trump touted it as a treatment for COVID-19, according to the clinic’s director. 


The current data on using the medication to treat COVID-19 comes from several poorly designed studies so more investigation needs to be done,  Alfred Kim said. 

“It has put an additional strain on the supply,” Kim said. “Our patients right now still can’t get their hydroxychloroquine. I’d say a majority of them are still having some problems.”  

The Missouri Board of Pharmacy and the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts said concerns had been raised that “this activity may lead to stockpiling of medication, inappropriate use and potential drug shortages for patients with a legitimate need,” in a joint statement issued in late March

The Lupus Foundation of America also sounded the alarm, saying in a statement earlier this month that “people with lupus who depend on HCQ as an essential and research-backed therapy may now be faced with an inadequate supply.”

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

4:19 p.m. — Three more Kansas City Police Department members have tested positive for COVID 19,  according to KCPD spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina. 

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the police department to five. Three are sworn law enforcement officers in the patrol bureau and two are administrative employees, according to Becchina. 

“We don’t have any reason to believe there’s any widespread contact with the public or any danger to the public or anything like that based on these members and their regular assignments,” Becchina said. 

Becchina said 25 employees are in quarantine based on guidance from the health department. 

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman 

2:20 p.m. — Jackson County has put another $4 million into the fight against the coronavirus.

The county legislature voted Monday to budget $2 million for emergency housing assistance for people who might need quarantining but are not sick enough for the hospital.

Another $1 million will go to Truman Medical Center or the county health department to buy testing kits.

The rest of the money will go to buy personal protective equipment, or PPE. The Sheriff’s Office will get $500,000 for PPE for itself and smaller police departments in Jackson County. The county jail will get $300,000 and the the Medical Examiner $200,000 for PPE.

While the county is fronting the money, county officials expect to be reimbursed by the federal government before the end of the fiscal year in July.

Last week, legislators allocated $4 million dollars to TMC for testing and other coronavirus supplies. All of that is coming out of county funds.

— Sam Zeff

11:25 a.m. — Dr. Gene Olinger, a science advisor at Kansas City-based MRI Global, said Kansas Citians can expect an uptick in quicker, more effective testing over the next two to three weeks.

“We’re working with a lot of commercial entities to help develop methods in which we can store the sample and then make sure we don't have sample degradation as it's being shipped and processed,” Olinger said today on KCUR’s Up to Date with Steve Kraske. “But also working with clients that are working on faster tests than can actually answer the question quicker."

Olinger warned that while the metro may see cases tail off toward the end of May, we are likely not out of the woods for now.

— Noah Taborda 

8:20 a.m. — Jackson County is considering postponing the collection of most business fees until after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

With most businesses closed in the county, the legislature will talk about a plan Monday that would push the collection of licensing fees back to October.

This would include things like the renewal of liquor and health licenses.

The county says postponing collections will have no financial impact on the county budget and would help businesses “better cope with financial issues relating to COVID-19,” according to online legislative documents.

Often the fees are modest, some as low as $30 dollars a year, but for some restaurants the cost can run up to $700.

— Sam Zeff

Saturday, April 4

11:49 a.m. — The Missouri Gaming Commission has extended its order for all riverboat gaming casinos to remain closed through 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 24, to comply with the statewide stay-at-home order issued on Friday by Gov. Mike Parson. The commission had previously directed the casinos to close as of March 17.

— Dan Margolies

7:59 a.m. — The Kansas City Health Department on Friday announced a second death of a COVID-19 patient. In a Twitter post, the department said the individual was a man in his 90s.

There are now 154 confirmed cases in the city: 107 in Jackson County, 36 in Clay County and 11 in Platte County, according to the department.

Women make up 79 of the cases and men make up 75. The ages range from children to adults over 90 years old.

— Dan Margolies 

Friday, April 3

4:40 p.m. — UMKC students will now have the option to receive simpler pass/fail marks for their courses this semester instead of traditional letter grades. It's an accommodation prompted by the university's move to online courses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Interim Provost Jenny Lundgren said in a release Friday that this decision will allow more flexibility for students.

“We decided against a one-size-fits-all approach in favor of empowering students to choose an option that best fits their academic needs this semester," the release said. 

After final grades have been posted, students can choose to retain the letter grade they earned, or select Credit/No Credit for one or multiple classes.

Students will receive credit for any grade C- or higher.

The University of Missouri in Columbia is allowing students to switch from receiving letter grades to receiving either "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" marks. The University of Kansas is also allowing students to opt into a Credit/No Credit system, but they will have to submit a request to do so by April 17.

— Jodi Fortino 

3 p.m. — As COVID-19 continues to spread, advocates and health officials worry about the risk of potential outbreaks in Missouri and Kansas prisons.

The Kansas City-based Midwest Innocence Project has signed on to a letter, along with other advocacy groups, calling on Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and the Missouri Supreme Court to release inmates who already have release dates, as well as elderly inmates.

“If you look at both jails and prisons, we have overcrowding. They don’t have access in many institutions to hand sanitizer and they don’t have access to soap. I mean this a cruise ship, but worse,” said Trisha Bushnell, president of The Midwest Innocence Project.

Bushnell said some individual counties and local jurisdictions have begun releasing inmates. The Missouri Supreme Court says it is leaving the decision up to lower court judges. Kelly’s office says she is still thinking about their next step.

— Jodi Fortino 

12:25 p.m. — The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, said it will open a COVID-19 drive- or walk-thru testing site for residents.

Residents in the county with a fever of over 100 degrees, shortness of breath and a dry cough will have priority for testing, a county health department statement said Friday. 

Health Department officials ask that residents who think they have COVID-19 symptoms report them from home first in order to see if they are eligible for testing. Once symptoms are reported, a Health Department staffer will reach out to provide guidance and inform them if they meet the requirements for testing.

The best way to inquire into testing is to go to the Unified Government’s online “Self-Report Your Symptoms” tool. The online tool is available in English and Spanish.

Residents without access to the internet can call the city’s 3-1-1 line to report symptoms and will be referred to a Health Department staff member for consultation.

County workers will run the mobile unit in the parking lot next to Kansas City, Kansas City Hall at 619 Anne Avenue. It will be open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 2 – 5 p.m.

— Laura Ziegler

11:30 a.m. — People who are spring cleaning during quarantine will likely need to hang on to their unwanted items for now. Most area locations that accept used clothing, old furniture or other items are closed due to the pandemic. The following organizations have closed their offices, or are not accepting donations or scheduling pickups:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City
  • Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas
  • Disabled Americans Veterans (DAV)
  • Goodwill 
  • Jewish Vocational Services (JVS)
  • Red Racks Thrift Stores
  • Savers
  • The Salvation Army

Planet Aid, with its bright yellow bins for donating clothes and shoes, suspended operations in about nine states around the country, including Missouri and Kansas.
— Laura Spencer

6 a.m. — Jackson County is making additional COMBAT anti-drug funds available to some agencies in the county amid the ongoing pandemic.

Extra money is available to organizations that run treatment centers, recovery houses or other in-house treatment for those with substance problems.

“The men and women still doing their jobs in these facilities are the frontline workers most people haven’t been hearing much about,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Baker runs the COMBAT program.

Only agencies previously approved to receive 2020 COMBAT funding will be eligible for the emergency funds, according to a statement from the prosecutor's office.

— Sam Zeff

Thursday, April 2

7:30 p.m. — The Kansas City Council has voted unanimously to spend $80,000 to house homeless people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Advocates say people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable because many lack access to health care. They also tend to live in communal shelters where the virus could be more easily spread.

“These persons who have been infected or who are subject to quarantine will find themselves in a situation where they’re continuing to go to a shelter, jeopardizing the health conditions of a number of others, or alternatively remain on the streets,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

People with confirmed cases of COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms will be given temporary housing at the Rodeway Inn at 1409 Admiral Blvd. in Kansas City, Missouri. Lucas said the location was chosen for its proximity to shelters, social service agencies, hospitals and public transit lines. The $80,000 will pay for up to 30 rooms, security and insurance costs for one month. Lucas said a plan to provide healthcare, food and other services is in the works as well.

Councilman Eric Bunch said he’s also working on legislation that would provide services for people experiencing homelessness who are otherwise healthy.

“Because so many of the facilities that our homeless Kansas Citians rely on daily like the library are closed. So, places where people can charge their devices, where they can go to the bathroom and things of that nature, I would encourage us to look at those options as well,” Bunch said.

— Lisa Rodriguez

3:45 p.m. — Kansas City health officials said the city has recorded its first death due to COVID-19. 

In a statement, the Kansas City Health Department said the woman who died was in her 70s. She was admitted to the hospital already in critical condition on March 25. She died Thursday. 

“We can’t imagine the grief her family and friends are going through right now,” said the city's Director of Health, Dr. Rex Archer. “We knew this day was coming and we will have more hard days to come. We need to take care of one another and take seriously the stay-at-home order.”

Another person who lived with the woman has also tested positive for COVID-19, and health officials say they are trying to determine if others need to be isolated and tested. 

As of Thursday, Kansas City has recorded 143 cases of COVID-19. 

— Kyle Palmer 

1:30 p.m. – Johnson County budget officials are already planning for a hit to the county’s revenues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and shuttering of many businesses. The county’s preliminary estimate is that revenues could drop by $18 million to $38 million, depending on the severity of an economic downturn.

Fortunately, Johnson County has a robust “rainy day” fund of $102 million for its operating budget, so it can weather some losses, Budget Director Scott Neufeld told the County Commission on Thursday. But a serious recession may require more drastic county response, he said. “We’re going to monitor this constantly,” Neufeld told the commission. “We are actively dialing back expenditures.”

Neufeld and County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson said they have already taken some steps to address budget concerns. The county has furloughed 46 employees who were working at motor vehicle offices that are closed to the public because of the epidemic. They have also instituted a hiring freeze for all non-essential positions, cut out travel and eliminated other non-critical expenses.

— Lynn Horsley

12:15 p.m. — The University of Missouri-Kansas City won’t hold in-person graduation ceremonies next month, but May graduates will be able to participate come December.

“We know what a treasured tradition and milestone commencement is for our graduates who have worked long and hard for their diplomas,” Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal and Interim Provost Jenny Lundgren wrote in a letter to students. “At the same time, we must address the need to keep our campus community, as well as our graduates’ families and loved ones, safe and healthy.”

UMKC will send May graduates a survey next week to get input on how to hold commencement virtually. Those students will also be invited to walk with December graduates later this year.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, UMKC halted all in-person classes last month, though students are still expected to complete coursework.

— Elle Moxley

11:40 a.m. — Heart to Heart International, the Lenexa-based international relief and development agency, is focusing resources on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the homeless in Kansas City.

Credit Courtesy of Heart to Heart International
The mobile care unit from Heart to Heart International will be in the Historic Northeast neighborhood to address non-coronavirus needs of people who are homeless. The hope is to free up hospital beds for those with the virus.

Next week, in partnership with the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness and the Veterans Community Project, Heart to Heart will send its mobile medical unit to work with the Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus in Kansas City, Missouri. The campus provides health and personal services for people who are homeless.

“Essentially, it’s an urgent care center on wheels,” says Kim Carroll, CEO of Heart to Heart.

“We’ll conduct some initial screening for suspected COVID symptoms. For those who do not have the virus, we’ll provide medical support in order to free up hospitals and urgent care clinics for coronavirus patients.”

The Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus is a one-stop facility that collaborates with health-care and service providers in the Historic Northeast neighborhood. Heart to Heart has provided urgent medical care in natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Haiti, during the Ebola crisis in Africa and hurricanes in the United States.

“This (the COVID-19 pandemic) is certainly is a global disaster,” Carroll says. “While people think of us as an organization that deploys across the globe, we operate year-round and support domestic programs with the distribution of medicines and medical devices in Kansas City and to free clinics around the U.S.”

— Laura Ziegler

8 a.m. — Just like the rest of the country, Kansas and Missouri once again saw huge spikes last week in people making initial claims for unemployment.

In Kansas, 54,739 people filed jobless claims. That is an increase of 31,176 from last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor report out Thursday morning. 

In Missouri, there were 96,734 new initial claims for unemployment. That is a jump of 54,488.

Overall, jobless claims nationwide soared by 6.6 million last week. That is double the record-setting 3.3 million people who filed initial unemployment claims the previous week. 

— Sam Zeff

6 a.m. — Starting Tuesday, the Shawnee Mission School District says district police will start writing tickets for trespassing to people using district stadiums and athletic fields who are violating social distancing guidelines.

"This is a step that we would have preferred not to take, but given the on-going lack of adherence to personal distancing guidelines, it has become necessary," the district said in a statement.

The district said these facilities will remain open but people must be six feet apart, no team sports and no groups of more than ten people.

— Sam Zeff

Wednesday, April 1

9:45 p.m. — Missouri education officials started getting calls on Wednesday afternoon about a prank letter that said students whose schools are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19 will have to repeat a grade.

Now the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is trying to reassure families that fell for what agency spokeswoman Mallory McGowan called an "insensitive" April Fool’s Day joke.

“(We) couldn’t be more disappointed that someone has taken their free time to create the document, especially given how much anxiety so many of our students and families are facing,” McGowan said.

McGowan said Missouri students will be able to advance to the next grade despite school closures.

All schools on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metro are closed until at least April 27.

— Elle Moxley

2:00 p.m. — The Kansas City Parks Department has started locking gates at some parks to keep people from gathering in large groups.

Outdoor recreation is allowed under the city's stay-at-home order, but park-goers are required to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other visitors. Mayor Quinton Lucas says he didn't see people following that guideline in city parks, where he witnessed teenagers gathering to play basketball over the weekend.

Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR
The gates to a parking lot at Kansas City's Loose Park were padlocked shut Wednesday morning.

Lucas says he's committed to making sure the city's enforcement of the stay-at-home order doesn't disproportionately affect people of color or low-income neighborhoods. The rules, he says, will be enforced identically throughout the city.

— Elle Moxley

1:45 p.m. — Small businesses in Kansas City, Missouri, can now apply for interest-free loans from the city's emergency relief fund.

Last week, the Kansas City Council approved a $500,000 fund for small businesses. The fund will be managed by AltCap.

To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 20 employees and earn less than $750,000 in yearly revenue. Qualifying businesses can get loans of up to $25,000.

Applications are availableonline or by calling 816-216-1851. 

— Lisa Rodriguez

10:40 a.m. — Two members of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19, the department said Wednesday morning.

“We have enacted our procedures, including quarantining those who had direct contact with the members,” Capt. David Jackson said in a statement. “The members are home and we look forward to their return to work once the virus runs its course.”

There are 16 KCPD members in quarantine, according to the department.

— Sam Zeff

9:25 a.m. — The coronavirus outbreak is expected to peak nationwide in about two weeks, but Kansas and other states could take longer. The University of Washington predicts Kansas will peak on April 28. Dr. Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says if people continue to practice social distancing, there should be adequate resources in the Kansas City-area.

“That's something that can be absorbed within the capabilities without having to say, 'Let's build something, let's commandeer a hotel, let's borrow a VA hospital, borrow a children's hospital,'" Norman says.

Norman says the state is still looking at alternative care sites that the Army Corps of Engineers or the National Guard could revamp.

— Bill Grady

8:15 a.m. — Metro companies are reporting more big layoffs in Missouri and Kansas.

In a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) notice, Gaming Partners International in Blue Springs said it was laying off 112 workers. The company makes cards, dice and other devices for casinos.

American Auto Auction in Kansas City north of the river told the state it is laying off 62 people.

In Kansas, the Marriott at 108th and Metcalf in Overland Park made a WARN Act notification this week saying it was laying off 50 workers.

— Sam Zeff

7:20 a.m. — No party at Paul Rudd’s mom’s house this year, Kansas City. That's because Big Slick Celebrity Weekend has been preemptively canceled due to COVID-19.

Rudd and fellow Kansas City natives Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner started the event back in 2010 to benefit pediatric cancer research at Children’s Mercy Hospital. It brings dozens of celebrities to Kansas City each year and was scheduled for June 5-6 this year.

“Big Slick draws big crowds and requires a lot of travel, which go against social distancing guidelines that are so critical at this time,” organizers wrote in a statement. “In making this decision, we appreciate the support and guidance from our partners, who help make each event that weekend so special.”

Big Slick raised $2.5 million for Children’s Mercy last year. The cancellation likely means less funding for the nonprofit hospital.

– Elle Moxley

Tuesday, March 31

8:47 p.m. — Kansas City civic and business leaders are banding together to offer zero-interest small business loans during the coronavirus pandemic.

AltCap, a Kanas City-based financial institution, will administer the interest-free loans. A number of business and philanthropic organizations are bankrolling the loan program, which has a $5 million goal.

To apply, businesses have to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be located in the Kansas City region
  • Employ 20 or fewer employees
  • Earn $2.5 million or less in annual revenue.

The three-year loans top out at $100,000 and deferred payments for up to a year. Retail, food service, arts, fitness and other industries hurt by the stay-at-home orders will be given priority.
“While federal and state assistance may be available eventually, businesses need help now,” said Wendy Guillies, President of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package includes $350 billion for small business loans nationwide.

Businesses can apply online or by calling (816) 216-1851.

— Frank Morris

5:37 p.m. — An outbreak of the new coronavirus in tiny Burlington, Kansas has a link to COVID-19 deaths in Kansas City, Kansas, and Washington state.

Life Care Centers of America runs the only nursing home in Burlington, population 2,500. As of Tuesday afternoon, 11 patients and nine staff members at the facility have tested positive for coronavirus.

The Burlington home has problems. A federal ratings agency gives it one star out of five and lists 11 health citations.

A Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, suffered from one of the earliest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the U.S., which killed 35 people.

The first COVID-19 death in Kansas was at the Life Care Center in Wyandotte County.

In general, nursing homes have been hot spots for coronavirus. Life Care Centers of America operates about 250 skilled nursing homes nationwide.

Coffey County Health Director Lindsey Payer says the Life Care Center in Burlington has been very cooperative through the current outbreak.

“In a facility like a nursing home, (coronavirus) is very easily spread because of the nature of living in confined spaces with vulnerable populations,” says Payer.

Payer says the infected patients are sequestered in the facility or being treated in hospitals. She says staff members who have tested positive are isolated in their own homes, which span four counties in southeast Kansas.

Payer says she’s been helping the nursing home obtain N95 masks and other supplies to fight the outbreak. She's also dropped off snacks for employees still working in the facility. 

— Frank Morris

5:15 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said HyVee Arena in Kansas City and Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence have been assessed as potential alternate care sites by the Missouri National Guard. The sites could be used if area hospitals become overcrowded with COVID-19 patients.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Parson said the Guard is assessing sites based on three criteria:

  • Located in areas with deficient bed counts,
  • Areas with spaces large enough for patient populations, and
  • Areas where utilities are available to start immediate construction if necessary.

Parson said the Guard is scouting two additional locations in Kansas City. The National Guard is working with several other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, to identify these potential sites.
— Lisa Rodriguez

4:55 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is warning people who attended a conference at the Miracle Temple Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, Kansas, that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“Multiple people" who attended the Kansas East Jurisdiction’s 2020 Ministers and Workers Conference from March 16-22 have become ill and tested positive for COVID-19, the department said in a news release Tuesday.

The church is located at 2106 Quindaro Boulevard.

“This event has been identified as a place of exposure for multiple people in Kansas who have since become ill and tested positive for COVID-19,” the release said.

Symptoms for COVID-19 appear up to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other rarer symptoms that may develop include malaise, sore throat and diarrhea.

The department warned people who attended the event that if they develop any of these symptoms, but are not sick enough to seek medical care, they must stay home for at least seven days after symptoms started or for 72 hours after the fever is gone, which ever is longer.

“If you attended this event and develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 between 2 and 14 days later, please call your local health department as they will conduct a confidential investigation to prevent further transmission of COVID-19,” the release said.

For questions regarding isolation and quarantine, the department suggests contacting a local health department of the state Epidemiology Hotline at 877-427-7317.

— Peggy Lowe

2:35 p.m. — The Tonganoxie School District in Leavenworth County, Kansas, shut down its lunch delivery program for two weeks after a kitchen staffer tested positive for COVID-19.

Superintendent Loren Feldkamp said the “Tongie Drive Thru," established after schools across Kansas were shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus, is set to resume operations April 13th.

“We're pretty comfortable everything's been super sterilized we're checking on all of our kitchen staff to make sure they're OK, but we probably will not have hot meals this time we'll probably stay with the cold meals," Feldkamp told KCUR.

Feldkamp said the district’s special lunch program had been serving over 350 meals each day during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Missouri, Raytown Schools resumed its lunch delivery program after suspending it briefly Monday after a worker tested positive for the disease.

— Bill Grady

11:25 a.m. — Kansas City nonprofit organizations are making an effort to protect the metro’s homeless population from the coronavirus outbreak.

Stephanie Boyer is CEO at the Kansas City nonprofit reStart. She said the area’s homeless are particularly vulnerable because many lack access to health care. They also tend to live in communal shelters where the virus could be more easily spread.

Boyer said her organization has been scrambling to find shelter for individual homeless people as they await test results.

“Which takes time and we don't really have time on our side right now to do that. I feel like we needed this plan over a week ago, at least. I think everyone does and I know the city does as well,” Boyer said.

Boyers said a few homeless people reStart serves have already tested positive for COVID-19. While those people are isolated, she says they are also working on finding facilities to house them after testing positive.

— Jodi Fortino 

10:25 a.m. —  The Johnson County Commission approved up to $400,000 for additional COVID-19 tests Monday.

This would fund between 3,000 and 5,000 tests.

Dr. Sanmi Areola is the county Department of Health and Environment’s director. He said testing will be randomized to help the county assess the role of asymptomatic transmission.

“It gives us a broader opportunity to understand what is going on in the community, know how, where it is out spreading," he said. 

The county still needs to find a vendor for the additional test. 

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman 

Monday, March 30

9:30 p.m. — More than half of Kansas City businesses expect to struggle to meet financial obligations, according to a survey about the effect of COVID-19 released Monday. 

The joint KC Chamber, Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Development Council survey includes responses from about 340 businesses. About a quarter said they are laying off or furloughing workers. 

About 70% of small businesses, which are classified by having less than 50 employees, indicated they expect to struggle to meet financial obligations.  

Most employers reported restricting employee travel, eliminating in-person meetings and having employees working from home.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

5:10 p.m. — The Jackson County legislature Monday passed a $4.5 million relief fund for immediate health care needs during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Of that total, $4.3 million will go to Truman Medical Centers for testing and monitoring the spread of the deadly virus, and $200,000 will fund a high-volume X-ray machine for the county examiner’s office.

Lawmakers also approved a resolution supporting “a freeze or a reduction of the current property tax rate on all residential and commercial real property taxes.” The resolution recommends a cap on real estate assessments at the 2019 level for the 2021 cycle.

3rd District-At-Large legislator Tony Miller said the resolution is intended to address the adverse economic impact of the public health crisis.

“It’s important to signal to our constituents that that the legislature is still concerned with ... predictability, fairness and equity,” Miller told KCUR.

The resolution is largely symbolic, however, because only the state can take such budgetary action.

County Executive Frank White last week released a statement asking the legislature to approve a $10 million aid package.

6th District Legislator Theresa Galvin said slashing the request by more than half does not suggest legislators disagree with the need for the aid, but that accountability is essential.

“I support the idea we need the (emergency) fund, but we also need to know where that money will come from before we commit it and exactly how it will be spent,” she told KCUR.

Lawmakers say they are not opposed to funding other aspects of White’s request, including aid for drive-through testing by Truman Medical Centers.

“Work is underway to fund additional medical challenges, as well as housing and food needs,” Crystal Williams, 2nd District-At-Large representative, said in a text. “Jackson County is intent on working with all the partners, public and private, to address our constituents' needs during this emergency.”

— Laura Ziegler

2:30 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city is adding police patrols to area parks in order to monitor crowds, which are supposed to be limited to no more than 10 people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor also encouraged people to call City Hall’s 311 hotline to report “house parties or any other events that seem to exceed the ten person limit.” 

Lucas also announced he was in conversation with a number of hotels and apartments to create temporary housing for the homeless population during the crisis. He did not identify any by name. He said officials are also heightening their efforts with non-profit and faith-based agencies to accommodate the homeless who are either waiting on test results or who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

— Laura Ziegler 

12:30 p.m. — Eight businesses in Missouri are on the radar of the state Attorney General Eric Schmitt for possible price gouging around the coronavirus crisis, according to a release from Schmitt's office.

Schmitt said his office is working in partnership with Amazon to identify third-party sellers seeking excess profits during the pandemic. These sellers must now provide information on pricing for face masks, respirators and hand sanitizers.

Schmitt's office did not identify the companies currently being investigated.

— Sam Zeff

12:15 p.m. — The Missouri Gaming Commission has extended the closure of the state’s riverboat casinos to Monday, April 6, to comply with social distancing requirements mandated by the state’s health agency. The commission had previously ordered the casinos shut down beginning midnight March 17 through March 30. There are 13 riverboat casinos in Missouri. Four of them are in the Kansas City area and a fifth is in St. Joseph.

— Dan Margolies

10:45 a.m. — With physical copies of books no longer available, libraries across the metro are pivoting services and events online.

Kansas City Public Libraries is using Facebook to stream their storytime for children, while the Mid-Continent Public Library is providing virtual small business classes.

“We’re trying to meet people where they are at. There are immediate needs we couldn’t foresee six weeks ago so how do we meet those now” said Steve Potter, Director of the Mid-Continent Public Library, speaking with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date Monday.

Sean Casserly of the Johnson County Library system said  his libraries are trying to build a "digital community until we can resume physical interactions."

“What we’re really looking for is how to create meaningful connections among people where they can talk about these issues that they’re facing, maybe in the context of a book, and a safe space,” said Casserly.

— Noah Taborda

Sunday, March 29

8:33 p.m. — Johnson County commissioners will hold a special meeting by video conference Monday to vote on allocating up to $400,000 for coronavirus tests.

The funds would buy between 3,000 and 4,000 completed tests, majorly expanding testing in the county. County officials say more testing would help map the spread of the virus, even among people showing no symptoms.

The shortage of tests is frustrating patients and leaving public health officials trying to manage the outbreak with only scant evidence.

Johnson County commissioners aren’t the only group trying to address the dearth of testing in greater Kansas City.

Last week, a group of Kansas City area business leaders pooled resources and contacts to order 50,000 tests for the metropolitan area, but those purchases have yet to translate into a spike in testing here.

— Frank Morris

Saturday, March 28

4:44 p.m. — Johnson County now has two COVID-19 deaths. The county health department didn't release any details as of Saturday afternoon but showed a second death on its coronavirus website.

The first death in Johnson County was a man in his 70s.

It is the fifth death in Kansas, according to the Department of Health and Environment website.

— Sam Zeff

9:03 a.m. — Johnson County Parks and Recreation says it will reopen its two public golf courses on Monday after being closed for about a week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heritage Park and Tomahawk Hills will reopen with new safety measures, including what the county calls in a news release a “touchless golf experience.”

That experience includes removing ball washers, bunker rakes and allowing only one person per cart.

The department is reducing the number of tee times by half to provide more space between players. Pro shops will also be closed, according to the release.

This comes on the heels of the parks department closing all basketball, tennis and pickleball courts.

— Sam Zeff

Friday, March 27

7:49  p.m. — President Donald Trump signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

The relief package includes direct payments to Americans and relief for hospitals and businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said he worked to add protections for displaced workers and local businesses to the bill despite pushback from some Republicans.

“The one sticking point for me was we wanted to have expanded benefits for people who had lost their jobs,” said Cleaver. “We were able to get that into legislation so that has satisfied me, but we're not through yet.”

Cleaver said he anticipates Congress will consider another economic relief bill this May. He hopes it will focus on small businesses and job creation

Cleaver said residents could see a direct payment in as soon as three weeks. He recommends switching to direct deposit for the quickest payment.

— Jodi Fortino

3:40 p.m. — There’s a chance of severe thunderstorms starting around 9 p.m. with hail, strong winds, and possibly tornadoes. That could lead to some power outages for Evergy’s 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri.

The coronavirus has had an impact on the way Evergy works, says Chris Kurtz, senior director of emergency operations. “We keep the same people together, the same crews, so people aren’t moving from crew to crew, which would potentially spread the virus. And that has worked well for us up to this point.”

Kurtz says the company is also using new technology so that dispatchers who answer calls can work remotely.

— Laura Spencer

1:45 p.m. — Johnson County District Court in Olathe will switch to remote hearings starting Monday, March 30. Chief Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan said the decision was reached in consultation with a pandemic response team. 

"We cannot jeopardize ourselves or the citizens who would otherwise be in the courtroom for emergency hearings," Chief Judge Ryan explained in a written announcement.

The court has been working to update technology for remote appearances. These will be conducted at no cost to those expected to appear.

Johnson County residents who have been summoned for jury duty may ignore their summons through April 20. Jury trials scheduled through May 10 are set to continue, pending further orders from the court.

— Laura Spencer

12:45 p.m. — A member of the Overland Park Fire Department has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a release from the department Thursday evening. 

In addition, six Overland Park police officers have been sent home for possible exposure and ordered to self-quarantine. The confirmed positive case is on the administrative staff and not involved in first response efforts. None of the police officers are currently showing symptoms.

According to the release, the person’s symptoms appeared away from work and it is believed their exposure was non-work related.

Additionally, two other staff members at OPFD are being monitored at home and one was sent home after a significant other reported a cough.

- Lisa Rodriguez  

10:20 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is mobilizing the Missouri National Guard to help with the COVID-19 response. State officials say this action will increase coordination among state government partners.

“The COVID-19 crisis is constantly developing and changing, but we are taking steps each and every day to slow the spread and protect public health and safety,” Parson said in a release Friday. “Mobilizing the National Guard will help us provide more immediate resources to our citizens and enhance Missouri’s ability to overcome this global pandemic.”

The Guard, according to the release, will provide health and safety training for personnel.

“The National Guard is ready and poised to assist local and state civilian authorities in response to COVID-19,” Brigadier General Levon Cumpton said in the release. “The Guard has flexibility in utilizing resources and deploying them around the state where they are most appropriate.”

— Laura Spencer

9:40 a.m. — The Crossroads Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, has laid off 151 full- and part-time workers due to the coronavirus, according to a notification it filed with the state of Missouri. The hotel, at 21st and Central streets, is operated by the Aparium Hotel Group out of Chicago. The laid-off workers include 54 servers, 20 cooks, 13 bartenders and 10 housekeeping attendants.

“For the safety and well-being of the employees, the hotel has temporarily suspended services and is not open to the public,” the notification states. “We are hopeful that this is temporary, although the date when the hotel may resume operations is unknown.” The layoffs took effect on March 22 and included all but four workers who remain employed.

— Dan Margolies

9:05 a.m. — Wyandotte County has reported a third death related to COVID-19. That’s according to the dashboard of official COVID-19 data on the county’s website. As of Friday morning, that brings Wyandotte County’s number of confirmed cases to 37.

According to county health officials, the latest death was a man in his 80s with underlying health issues. He was diagnosed on Monday, March 23, and died on Thursday, March 26. 

Meanwhile, neighboring Johnson County has the most cases in the state, with 59. That includes one death, as of the latest KDHE update released Thursday.

Also as of Thursday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 502 confirmed cases, with a jump in numbers on Thursday by 41 percent. That total includes 8 deaths.

Kansas City itself now has 64 confirmed cases. And Jackson County has 31 confirmed cases, with 1 death.

— Laura Spencer 

Thursday, March 26

9:45 p.m. — Missouri has been approved for a federal major disaster declaration amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. 

President Trump approved Gov. Mike Parson’s request Thursday evening. The move, among other things, allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse eligible expenditures by local governments, nonprofit groups and the state for emergency protective measures by first responders and others responding to the coronavirus.

Parson’s request for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling are still being reviewed. Also under review is the governor’s request for federal hazard mitigation assistance to identify and reduce long-term risks associated with natural disasters.

— Bill Grady

8:10 p.m. — The Kansas City Fire Department said one of its firefighters tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-quarantined. 

In a statement released Thursday, KCFD officials said the firefighter first started feeling ill March 20. The fireighter was tested "in accordance with Department protocols" and a positive test came back March 25. 

The statement said the firefighter had begun self-quarantining before being tested and has not required hospitalization. 

— Kyle Palmer

5:15 p.m. — On a day when new federal data reflected greater than 1000% increases in unemployment claims over the last week in both Kansas and Missouri, the U.S. Postal Service in the Kansas City metro said it was hiring.

Of the 38,000 federal workers in offices around the Kansas City metro, postal workers are the only ones not working remotely.

Larry Hisle, executive director of the greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board said the post offices are seeing holiday-volume business as people shop online during the stay-at-home orders. Jobs are posted daily on the U.S. Postal Service website.

— Laura Ziegler 

4:25 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has introduced an ordinance to extend the deadline for filing earnings tax information until July 15th.

The measure was drafted Thursday morning and is expected to be approved during the full City Council meeting Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the mayor said he wanted to follow the lead of federal and state government. Accrual of any interest or penalties would also be delayed. 

— Bill Grady

2:45 p.m. — A health care workers union is asking Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to issue a stay-at-home order and help with child care assistance for workers.

“They are facing shortages of facemasks, gloves, sanitizer and other safety equipment,” said Lenny Jones, the state director and vice president of SEIU Healthcare Missouri. “They do not have adequate paid sick time in the event that they are exposed or contract the virus.”

Jones said while attention is focused on doctors and nurses, the roughly 4,000 Missouri union members representing nursing home, home care and hospital workers face similar challenges.

The union joins a growing number of organizations, including the Missouri State Medical Association, calling for a stay-at-home.

Parson has so far declined to issue one, saying it would shut down businesses and result in job losses that would devastate the economy.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

12:55 p.m. — Kansas City, Kansas, police have created a hotline to report non-essential businesses that are staying open during the metro-wide stay-at-home order.

They’re urging residents to call (913) 225-4788 if they see a business they believe is not complying with the order, which went into effect Tuesday. The line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Police say if a complaint is received, they’ll reach out directly to the business and urge them to close voluntarily. If the business owner refuses to comply, a citation will be issued.

— Lisa Rodriguez

12 p.m. — The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is closed and the Kansas City Symphony has canceled performances through May 10, but Symphony musicians and staff will keep their salaries and benefits through the 2019-2020 season.

“Due to COVID-19, the Symphony has had to cancel or postpone more than 20 concerts and that loss of revenue is extraordinary,” Executive Director Danny Beckley in a statement. “We are pleased to announce that salaries and benefits will remain unchanged for the current season for both Kansas City Symphony musicians and staff.”

Beckley said philanthropic support such as new gifts and donations of unused tickets back to the Symphony as well as “many years of fiscal discipline” provided a cushion. The Symphony is also in the process of adding digital offerings, including a podcast called “Beethoven Walks into Bar ...” and a podcast featuring archived performances. Also in the works are music education materials for kids who are learning at home.

— Laura Spencer

8:30 a.m. — Both Kansas and Missouri saw dramatic spikes in initial jobless claims, according to a weekly report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

In the last week, the number of people seeking unemployment insurance in Kansas shot up by 21,932. In Missouri, the spike was even higher with a week-over-week increase of 36,492 people. 

Nationwide, more than 3.2 million new jobless claims were filed this week, an unprecedented one-time rise in the Department of Labor's weekly report. 

"The increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts," the report said. 

— Kyle Palmer

8 a.m. — U.S. Senators representing the Kansas City metro area are applauding the Senate's passage of a massive relief package to help communities deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The so-called CARES Act passed the Senate Wednesday night by a vote of 96-0. It now goes to the U.S. House and then to the President. It allocates $2 trillion and is the largest relief package in American history.

"The CARES Act provides one of the most powerful and timely economic relief packages in our nation’s history," Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas said in a statement. Roberts said the plan "represents ideas from both sides of the political aisle but with a shared purpose: to deliver a necessary financial bridge to American households, workers and businesses through the economic shock from COVID-19."

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas agreed. "Our country is facing a pandemic and we must act now to make certain Kansans have the support they need to weather this storm," Moran said in a statement. The CARES Act contains many provisions he would not support in ordinary circumstances, he added, "but hospitals need supplies, small businesses need loans, farmers and ranchers need certainty and folks who are out of work, through no fault of their own, need relief."

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said the pandemic is the greatest threat America has seen in decades. "We have to speed relief to everyone who needs it and the CARES Act the Senate just passed does that," he said. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said on Twitter, "Just voted for major relief for families $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, which I’m proud to say will go to EVERY Missourian who needs it. No penalties for low income families. I fought for this relief and we won. In this crisis, Missouri families deserve the help."

In addition to providing direct assistance to individuals, the Act has emergency funds for food and nutrition programs and schools, provides cash-flow assistance to small business through federally-guaranteed loans, creates temporary unemployment assistance programs, and ensures virus testing will be covered by private insurance. Among other provisions, it also includes $100 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $16 billion for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

— Lynn Horsley

Wednesday, March 25

9:40 p.m. —  The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced Wednesday that a student has tested positive for COVID-19. It's the first known case of the disease identifed in someone associated with the school. 

UMKC, in coordination with public health officials, will now begin reaching out to those who may have come into contact with the student, Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said in a letter to the university.

The student does not live on campus and is currently being treated in isolation. 

— Noah Taborda

9:00 p.m. — Kansas Senator Jerry Moran announced $1.9 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to state organizations in a release today. The funds will be used to combat COVID-19 for the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, Kansas clinics, and community centers.

“These resources will help provide timely relief and support for Kansas medical services as they continue to work to keep their communities safe,” Moran said.

The grants funds will be given to 18 organizations. KDHE will receive nearly $118,000 in aid.

— Noah Taborda

7:55 p.m. — The Kansas City campus of the IRS will be closed from March 26 until April 9 due to an employee under quarantine with a presumptive positive case of COVID-19. The closure was announced in an email to employees this morning.

This comes after several complaints about work conditions and pressure from Post 66 of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS workers in the Kansas City area, to follow the latest health recommendations. More than 100 employees had been working in the office this week.

The building will close for extensive cleaning.

All calls to the Kansas City campus of the IRS go to an automated voice message confirming the temporary closure and directing all further inquiries to the IRS website.

— Noah Taborda

5:00 p.m. — Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman said in a press conference today that he expects cases in Kansas to double every three to four days. Kansas currently has 128 confirmed cases, and eight deaths from COVID-19.

Testing supplies are still limited, with KDHE having only enough for 900 tests at the moment. Often supplies reach the bare minimum before they can restock, Norman said. This could force areas with multiple hospitals to share supplies in the future.

KDHE is also dealing with other equipment shortages including masks and protective gear for health workers. Norman said the department has been in contact with FEMA regarding protective gear as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for ultraviolet equipment to sterilize and reuse masks.

KDHE also expressed interest in satellite locations where samples can be drawn to study the prevalence of COVID-19 in certain communities and asymptomatic carriers, he said.

Lastly, Norman emphasized the importance of respecting stay at home orders, saying these orders will not show the intended results if people ignore their importance.

— Noah Taborda

4:00 p.m. — With the United States Senate working toward a vote today, it seems likely that Congress will pass a $2 trillion dollar relief package this week. Senators from Missouri and Kansas weighed in, giving constituents some ideas of what to expect.

In a telephone town hall yesterday, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) emphasized the need to get money to individuals as soon as possible, adding that the bill will also take special consideration for those in rural America. “We are working to provide additional resources for telemedicine, broadband connectivity, and business and industry loans,” Roberts said.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) pointed out that the current version of the bill triples unemployment insurance available to Missourians, in an interview with Brian Hauswirth.

And in a release yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) highlighted money that would be funneled into small businesses, families, and healthcare providers for at least the next few weeks. “We'll immediately begin to talk about whether or not [a payment to individuals] needs to be repeated again as the summer progresses, but that's not the point right now,” Blunt said. “The point is what happens two and three weeks from now.”

—Noah Taborda

1:10 p.m. — Calls to Missouri's child abuse and neglect hotline have decreased by 50% since March 11, in all likelihood because school closures due to COVID-19 have cut contact between children and mandated reporters. The Department of Social Services calls the drop in calls "alarming."

"This low number of calls is very abnormal for the Hotline and our worst fear is that children are unsafe while at home," said Acting Director Jennifer Tidball in a statement. 

"I know Missourians are very focused on COVID-19," Gov. Mike Parson said, "but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure every Missouri child remains safe from abuse and neglect."

Anyone concerned about a child's safety can call 1-800-932-3738 to report abuse or neglect. Reports can be made anonymously.

— Elle Moxley

12:50 p.m. — Wyandotte County, where the confirmed number of coronavirus cases has climbed to nearly two dozen, now reports a second death from the virus.

According to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, the second person to die of COVID-19 was a man in his 70s. Mayor David Alvey told KCUR's Up To Date that the county's second death drives home "this notion that we all have to take responsibility to stop the spread of the virus."

Wyandotte County has joined surrounding counties in issuing a stay-at-home order for residents. Kansas City, Kansas officials hope that limiting interactions in this way will prevent the further spread of the virus.

— Jodi Fortino

11:00 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is asking President Donald Trump to approve a major disaster declaration for his state amid the growing coronavirus epidemic. 

In a statement Wednesday, Parson said the COVID-19 pandemic has already had a “devastating” effect on the state.

“Although it is continuing to develop, it’s already clear the COVID-19 pandemic will have a more sweeping impact on the entire state of Missouri than any other previous disaster that has affected our citizens. There is an urgent need for federal assistance to help Missouri families meet today’s challenges and the many more that we will face,” Parson said.

Parson is requesting Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling from FEMA, which helps individuals and families, and funding from the Public Assistance program, which goes to local governments and nonprofit agencies.

— Lisa Rodriguez

10:25 a.m. — Kansas City crafters in quarantine have been churning out homemade masks to give to hospitals running out of personal protective equipment, or PPE.

Nationally, N95 masks are in short supply. Health care workers in some hospitals have been asked to use the same mask for an entire shift.

For now, though, Children’s Mercy says it isn’t accepting homemade masks.

“We are consistently amazed by the generosity of our community and have received an outpouring of support from people wanting to help during this time of need,” the hospital said in a statement.

“As an organization, we must continue to ensure our in-kind donations, especially PPE, meets national regulatory standards. As an example, based on current research we are not confident homemade masks meet that standard and thus, we cannot accept them at this time.”

Children’s Mercy is accepting monetary donations, as well as packaged food, PPE, toys, blankets, toiletries and blankets.

Other organizations will take the masks, though, including the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

– Elle Moxley

9:30 a.m. — Meal distribution is now underway in school districts shuttered to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

On Monday, the North Kansas City Schools served 6,511 lunches. Superintendent Dan Clemens says the district is still tabulating Tuesday’s total but expected it to be higher because the district added drive-through service at its high schools.

“I think it also shows a little bit that people are following Mayor Lucas’ shelter in place order,” Clemens said. “If they are staying home and depending on us for food, that’s probably going to help our community remain healthy.”

Nearly half of the district’s 20,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Most schools are providing breakfast and lunch – and some, dinner – to any student 18 or younger.

— Elle Moxley

8:20 a.m. — Nebraska Furniture Mart said it will temporarily close its Kansas City, Kansas, showroom.

The Omaha-based retailer initially said it would encourage employees to practice social distancing but stay open so customers could buy office furniture to work remotely. Most of the metro is now under a “stay at home” order, but there are exemptions for companies that provide essential goods and services.

On Nebraska Furniture Mart’s Facebook page, people questioned whether the retailer ought to be in that category. Late Tuesday, Nebraska Furniture Mart President Tony Boldt reversed course and said the company would close its stores, beginning Friday.

“In our 83-year history, we have only closed our store once: in 1975 after a tornado ravaged parts of Omaha, including our store,” Boldt wrote in a letter to customers. “Nothing is more important to us than being there for our friends and neighbors.”

Boldt said customers could still order online for delivery to their driveway or contactless pick-up at the Kansas City, Kansas, store.

— Elle Moxley

8:10 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said the state is facing a financial crisis because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Missouri’s next budget counts on tax revenue growing by almost 2% throughout the fiscal year, but Parson said Tuesday that projection is now unrealistic in light of the pandemic.

“There is no doubt the original budget that we proposed will change drastically,” Parson said at new conference. “There will be major changes as we move forward.”

Parson hasn’t started naming the budget cuts he thinks the state should make in light of the crisis, but they could be drastic. Across the country, state tax revenues plunged by about 9% during the last recession, according to the Brookings Institution. A drop of that magnitude would cost Missouri more than $2.5 billion. In Kansas that figure would top $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, Missouri, like other states, is busy spending money trying to plug gaps in the national pandemic response. Parson has allocated $18 million to buy personal protective equipment for medical professionals and first responders.

Most of the money has been spent, with $10 million alone on N95 protective masks — the state ordered 4.2 million of them. Missouri Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten said employees scoured every source they could think of, including Amazon, to assemble the orders. She said the equipment will be coming in over the next few weeks.

— Frank Morris

6 a.m. — A second person in Wyandotte County has died from COVID-19. The Unified Government said last night in a news release that the patient was a man in his 70s who died Monday night at the hospital. 

— Sam Zeff

Tuesday, March 24

5:05 p.m. — Cellphone location data released by a Norway-based company revealed people in Kansas and Missouri have reduced their movement by about a third in the last two weeks, as more stringent restrictions have been put in place amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. 

The data from the firm Unacast showed Johnson County, which has been identified to have community spreading of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has seen one of the larger drops in Kansas, with residents moving about 40% less.

However, both Kansas and Missouri overall rank below the national average, which is also about a 40% drop in movement.

— Alex Smith

4:25 p.m. — Building the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport remains on schedule amid the metro-wide coronavirus shutdown.

On Tuesday, KCI spokesman Joe McBride said the project's developer Edgemoor has issued safety protocols, but since the work is mostly outside, social distancing recommendations are not difficult to comply with. He said no layoffs are anticipated.

“Nearly $900 million in bonds were issued last year, that's enough to keep the project going forward into the future and so that's not going to be a problem," McBride told KCUR.

McBride says the new KCI's projected completion date hasn't changed. It’s still set for the spring of 2023.

— Bill Grady 

1:55 p.m. — Students in Kansas are continuing to learn, even though school buildings are closed for the rest of the year.

At least, that was the message Olathe Superintendent John Allison sent in a tweet this week.

Allison said Olathe’s 1:1 program, in which each student gets their own digital device, will make it easier to move classes online during the coronavirus shutdown. But he said the district is mindful that not all students have easy internet access at home.

“Every day seems to be a new situation, so I ask you to bear with us. Have patience as we work through that continuous instructional plan and learning plan,” said Allison.

— Jodi Fortino

1:40 p.m. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will give funds to 29 health centers in Missouri and 19 in Kansas to help stem the novel coronavirus outbreak. The money can be used for screening, testing, acquiring medical supplies, and enhancing telemedicine capabilities, according to a news release from the department.

The Missouri health centers will receive $2.1 million and the Kansas centers $1.27 million. Local health centers and the money they’re getting include:

  • Turner House Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas – $64,427
  • Health Partnership Clinic, Olathe, Kansas – $72,310
  • Kansas City Care Clinic, Kansas City, Missouri – $70,040
  • Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, Kansas City, Missouri – $82,066
  • Swope Health Services, Kansas City, Missouri – $114,755
  • Northwest Health Services, St. Joseph, Missouri – $82,182.

The money comes from $100 million designated for health centers nationwide under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which addresses the outbreak with $8.3 billion in emergency funding.
— Dan Margolies

12:45 p.m. — As more Kansas City residents stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, street maintenance crews continue to repair potholes. The crews are considered essential employees in Kansas City, Missouri.

But fewer cars on the streets doesn’t necessarily mean pothole patching is happening at a faster rate. Crews scaled back when Mayor Quinton Lucas declared a state of emergency on March 16.

Kansas City Public works spokeswoman Maggie Green says they’re sending fewer workers out at once to keep crews safe.

“We’re doing things like one crewperson per vehicle just so we can make sure that the social distancing recommendations are met,” Green tells KCUR.

A pothole emergency declaration at the end of February did allow maintenance crews to work overtime and take care of a majority of pothole complaints. As of March 18, 83% of the more than 3,000 reports called in to 311 had been resolved.

Green added that improving weather will also allow workers to fill more potholes.

— Lisa Rodriguez

12:15 p.m. — Both Clay and Platte Counties have confirmed their first cases of COVID-19. 

Health officials in both counties north of the river declared their first cases Monday. 

In a tweet, the Platte County Health Department said one person had been requested to self-isolate for 14 days and people who had been in close contact with them were being notified. 

On Tuesday, Platte County officials confirmed a second case had been confirmed, unrelated to the first.

In a news release Monday, Clay County health officials said three unrelated cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed. The release said the cases were a man and woman in their 50s and a woman in her 80s. 

"Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread across the Kansas City metro area and Clay County is no exception," Director of Public Health Gary E. Zaborac is quoted in the release. 

— Kyle Palmer

12:00 p.m. — Kansas City food pantries, soup kitchens and social safety net organizations are struggling to keep up with the surge in demand brought on by the spread of COVID-19.

Harvesters, the region’s largest food bank, said Tuesday their demand has more than doubled in the last few weeks as more people come to the pantries for assistance. On a normal day, officials say, they pack about 5,000 cases of food. On Monday, they packed 12,000.

Chief Resource Officer Joanna Sebelien says Harvesters is having difficulty keeping up with the unprecedented need in the community.

“We've seen a drop in donated food because the retailers are trying to keep the grocery stores in stock. We've had to revert to purchasing food to be able to bring it in by the truck load,” said Sebelien.

Sebelien says the organization is most in need of monetary donations to buy more food for their pantries. They also encourage more volunteers to help at their warehouse, where they will be able to work safely and at the recommended distance from others.

— Jodi Fortino

11:05 a.m. —  The Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation have agreed to commit $5 million to start a COVID-19 emergency relief fund to help people with rent or housing payments, food insecurity and access to health care.

The leading donors, along with more than two dozen charitable and private businesses, hope to raise $10 million for the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to give out to nonprofit organizations, who can provide direct services and support.

The fund will be managed by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, United Way of Greater Kansas City, LISC Greater Kansas City and the Mid-America Regional Council.

The Fund expects to deploy an initial round of grants as soon as possible to support operations and services with a focus on critical needs, including, but not limited to:

  • Housing support (rent, mortgage, utilities)
  • Food insecurity
  • Access to health care
  • Other critical human services

— Lisa Rodriguez 
10:35 a.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a package of executive orders aimed at easing some state regulations amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

One of the orders extends the tax-filing deadline for Kansans to July 15. Another extends deadlines for driver's licence and vehicle registration renewals. 

Another suspends evictions due to COVID-19-related issues and another ensures waste removal operations around the state will remain runnign during the crisis. 

— Kyle Palmer

12:01 a.m. — Metro-wide "Stay at Home" orders go into effect.

Starting on Tuesday, March 24, metro-area residents are under orders to stay at home except to conduct essential business. The stay-at-home order lasts for 30 days, until April 24 (it may be extended or canceled sooner).

The order is similar throughout the metro, but residents should check their jurisdiction's website for specific information:

Monday, March 23

7:45 p.m. — The Kansas City mayor’s office is discussing an extension of the earnings tax deadline to July, consistent with the extension for federal income tax returns.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved Missouri’s request for assistance through the federal agency’s disaster loan program on Saturday.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program lets small businesses and nonprofit groups apply for economic relief loans to offset losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The interest rates range from 3.75% for small businesses to 2.75% percent for nonprofits.

To receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications go to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/elah. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

— Laura Ziegler

7:30 p.m. — Health care and first-responder agencies in the Kansas City area have begun asking for donations to overcome shortages in dealing with the spread of COVID-19.

The Kansas City Police Department wants face masks and 10 temporal scanner thermometers.

“We’re asking for extra gear. We aren’t asking for people to go without,” Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said at a Monday news conference. “We would happily take that donation at any of the patrol divisions.”

The Johnson County Emergency Management Division is looking for cloth masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

“COVID-19 is continuing to put a strain on the health care system,” Dan Robeson, deputy director of Johnson County Emergency Management, said in a press release. “We have requested additional masks, but supply is short everywhere, and we must ensure health workers are safe as they serve those who are ill.”

The University of Kansas Medical Center is accepting donated N95 respirator face masks, according to Tammy Peterman, president of the Kansas City division of The University of Kansas Health System.

“We are so happy and thrilled actually to receive those donations,” Peterman told reporters Monday. “Many of those N95s (face masks) we are putting to use.”

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman and Dan Margolies

7 p.m. — A Missouri prison inmate has tested positive for COVID-19 and was undergoing treatment Monday in a Kansas City area hospital, according to state corrections officials.

That marked the first case of the new coronavirus in the state prison system.

Test results confirming the diagnosis came back Monday, but the inmate had been hospitalized since March 19. The man was being “monitored for a suspected respiratory condition and had been isolated” in medical containment room at the state prison in St. Joseph since March 4, the Missouri Department of Corrections said in a news release.

Corrections officials said they alerted all staff members who had contact with the offender. Family visits to Missouri prisons have been on hold since March 12.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

4:15 p.m. — Jackson County Executive Frank White is proposing $10 million in emergency funding to address COVID-19. 

Funding would come from budget reserves and rainy day funds, according to county administrator Troy Schulte.

“This is why the county, through good fiscal management, has put the money aside for just this type of an issue so that we can move when other organizations, whether it’s the state or the federal government, have not been as quick to respond as we needed them to,” Schulte said in a news conference Monday.

The funding proposal, which would need to be approved by the county legislature, includes the following:

  • $3 million for the Truman Medical Centers. This would go toward medical equipment like ventilators, increasing the hospital bed capacity and increasing testing capacity.
  • $1 million for the Jackson County Health Department. This would fund more staff members, testing kits and personal protective equipment.
  • $1 million for community health providers. This includes money for contact tracing and help for people without insurance.
  • $2 million for temporary housing. This would help people who are housing insecure, homeless or living with someone who is high-risk for COVID-19.
  • $1.5 million for food delivery. Area food agencies would get this money to provide meal delivery to people who can’t leave their homes. Part of the funding could be used toward restaurants that help with meal preparation.
  • $1.5 million for first responders/public safety. This would go toward personal protective equipment.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman
3:15 p.m. — Undocumented immigrants in Wyandotte County, Kansas, will not be arrested for seeking medical care or for being outside their home, according to a news release Monday by district attorney Mark Dupree.

Dupree said he had received “numerous reports of fear regarding undocumented individuals afraid to seek medical assistance.”

“If you do have to go out, you will not be pulled over and questioned,” Dupree said in a news release. “We simply ask for compliance with the [stay at home] ordinance. Additionally, if you are home and undocumented, police are not looking to arrest any group of people en masse.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it won’t conduct enforcement operations near health care facilities except “in the most extraordinary of circumstances.” Those revised guidelines went into effect last week.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

2:45 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is proposing a $500,000 relief package for small, local businesses in the 2020-2021 city budget.

The Small Business Emergency Relief Fund would provide small grants to local businesses who are struggling amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

In a statement announcing the proposal Monday, Lucas said his “heart breaks” for small businesses and their employees.

“I applaud the painful steps our small businesses have already taken to protect our community—now, it’s our turn to step up and protect them,” Lucas said.

Details about what businesses would qualify for grants were not immediately available. The City Council is expected to vote on the budget Thursday.

— Lisa Rodriguez

2:30 p.m. — The Missouri State Medical Association is asking Gov. Mike Parson to enact a statewide shelter-in-place requirement.

In a letter sent to the governor Monday, the medical association said a shelter-in-place order is “the only way to curb the exponential spread of COVID-19 in Missouri.”

Residents of Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri will be ordered to stay at home for 30 days beginning Tuesday. Those orders, which exclude essential activities, came from local officials.

“If things progress as is, COVID-19 patients will deplete the state’s available hospital beds, ventilators, and precious personal protection equipment,” MSMA president James DiRenna wrote. “Any additional time without a ‘shelter-in-place’ requirement wastes crucial healthcare resources, including manpower.”

Parson has stopped short of issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order but has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people. The order, which took effect Monday, also prohibited dine-in eating at restaurants. Drive-through, pickup and delivery are allowed.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

2:15 p.m. — Kansas City residents and businesses impacted by the coronavirus could see a nearly $2 trillion relief package pass through Congress by the end of the day on Monday.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, told KCUR's Up To Date that there has been debate over who should receive aid, with his preference being a focus on helping small businesses rather than large corporations.

"By the time individuals get their checks, it will be May. Many people will have already missed two house payments, not to mention running out of necessities," said Cleaver.

Cleaver says his current priority is funding the distribution of much-needed testing kits to hospitals across the metro.

— Jodi Fortino

2:00 p.m. — Fourteen northland teenagers stranded on a mission trip organized by Platte Woods United Methodist Church returned home on a flight into KCI Sunday night. The teens and their adult chaperones had been previously unable to leave Guatemala after the country closed its borders for travel in or out to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Arrangements for the emergency trip were made possible through the efforts of US Senator Josh Hawley's office. Such matters are typically handled by the State Department, but it was a call from Hawley to President Trump that ultimately brought the group home. 

— Gina Kaufmann

11:50 a.m. — The FBI has joined local law enforcement to urge you to be on the lookout out for coronavirus fraud.

“Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both,” the FBI said in a public service announcement.

The Bureau says to be suspicious of:

  • Fake Centers for Disease Control emails claiming to offer COVID-19 information. Don’t click on links you don’t recognize.
  • So-called phishing emails asking you to verify personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check. A phishing email may also contain offers of airline refunds, ask for charitable contributions or offer fake testing kits.
  • And counterfeit treatments or equipment that claim to prevent COVID-19 or offer N95 respirator masks, goggles or other personal protective equipment.

The Jackson County, Missouri, Prosecutor and the Wyandotte County, Kansas, District Attorney have also warned of such scams.
— Sam Zeff

10:05 a.m. — Many Metro school districts will start meal distributions to students Tuesday.

Kansas City Public Schools has released four locations for meal distributions, which will be on Tuesday and Thursday this week:

  • Northeast High School (415 Van Brunt Blvd.)
  • Central High School (3221 Indiana Ave.)
  • East High School (1924 Van Brunt Blvd.)
  • African-Centered College Preparatory Academy-Lower Campus (6410 Swope Pkwy)  

On Monday, March 30, and Wednesday, April 1, meals will be available at the same schools from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 6 p.m.
“We are asking families to be prepared to provide the student ID number for each child receiving a meal packet. Children should be present to be eligible for these meals,” KCPS said in a news release.

KCPS also said one of it’s employees has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.  The district said the worker is recovering in the hospital.

“The employee never entered any of our schools or other buildings upon having symptoms,” the district said in a statement.

—Sam Zeff

9:30 a.m. — Starting this week, the Y is offering full-day childcare for school-age children of essential workers at eight locations across the metro area, including North Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. More locations are expected to be added.

—Sylvia Maria Gross

Saturday, March 21

7 p.m. — The first Missouri lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19 is asking the Gov. Mike Parson to increase the supply of testing kits and personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses.

Credit Joe Runions
Missouri Rep. Joe Runions, a Democrat from Grandview, being treated for coronavirus on March 19. As of March 22, he no longer needed a ventilator. Runions attached the photo to his news release urging Gov. Mike Parson to speed support and supplies to hospitals.

Missouri Rep. Joe Runions, D-Grandview, said he spoke with Gov. Mike Parson Sunday about his concerns.

“My doctors are deeply concerned that they could run out of vital supplies, especially the equipment they need to keep themselves safe while caring for patients,” Runions said in a press release. “They also say expanded testing is needed to more quickly identify and treat those who have contracted COVID-19.”

Runions is still hospitalized at St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City but is “getting better,” according to his press release.

6:45 p.m. — For Missourians not covered under stricter "stay at home" rules such as those announced for the Kansas City metro on Saturday, a new statewide social distancing order imposed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

The order bans social gatherings of more than 10 people, instructs residents to avoid eating in bars or restaurants (take-out and delivery are allowed) and bans them from visiting nursing homes and similar facilities unless to "provide critical assistance."

The order is set to remain in effect through April 6, unless extended.

The order, which Parson first announced Friday, came shortly after business and health care leaders from Kansas City and St. Louisurged the governor to act to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

6 p.m. — Residents of Kansas City and Jackson County in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas will all be ordered to stay at home beginning on Tuesday, March 24, according to an announcement made by county leaders late Saturday afternoon.

The order from each jurisdiction is expected to remain in effect for 30 days, until Friday, April 24. Officials from all four entities planned to announce additional information at a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas extended his citywide state of emergency, telling people to stay at home except "to perform 'essential activities.'"

3:24 p.m. — Johnson County, Kansas, has logged its first fatality from the coronavirus, according to officials with the county's health department.

The victim is a man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions, said Barbara Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the department. The man was being treated at a Johnson County hospital. Mitchell declined to say which hospital or release further details.

In a news release, Dr. Sanmi Areola, the Johnson County Health Department Director, said the victim had no history of travel.

The county has now tallied 26 total cases, including the fatality. The death brings the state total to two, alongside a man in his 70s who died last week in Wyandotte County.

8:15 a.m. — The Kansas City Police Department says it will ease up on parking tickets during Kansas City’s state of emergency. In a tweet, the department said officers will still ticket during rush hour and for cars blocking intersections and hire hydrants, but they won’t ticket vehicles parked in timed zones or at meters.

— Lisa Rodriguez

7:55 a.m. — The Jackson County Detention Center is taking new precautions as officials hope to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay. As of Friday, there were no infections among the 820 inmates or staff, said Diana Turner, Director of the Jackson County Corrections Department.

Before entering the jail, temperatures are taken for all staff, visitors, inmates and law enforcement, Turner said. Attorneys visit their clients through a window, using a phone. Friends or families of inmates are not allowed in the lobby, but video chats are available for a fee. Volunteer services have also been suspended, including visits by faith-based communities.

Turner defended the prohibition on inmates having hand sanitizers (they are alcohol-based and can be made into an illicit drink), saying all inmates are given free hygiene kits and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says soap is a better protection against the virus than santizers. Hand sanitizer stations have been placed at all the doors, but they are solely for visitors and staff.

Turner said inmates may be safer from COVID-19 in the jail than they are outside of it. "We’re screening everybody walking in the building," she said. "Who's screening anybody walking in at Wal-Mart? And the answer is no one."

— Peggy Lowe

7:30 a.m. — Independence, Missouri, Mayor Eileen Weir is restricting all “body care” services starting Monday. That includes hair salons, nail salons, barbers, tattoo and piercing services, and massage providers. Retail services at those business will still be allowed.

“As we see this virus continue to spread across the country, it is important that we further limit person-to-person contact while enforcing social distancing,” Weir said in a statement.

“We know there are economic repercussions in our area for these decision and we are working with the Chamber of Commerce to plan for recovery appropriately. These types of services are more likely to transmit illness due to the unavoidable close person-to-person contact.”

Healthcare services such as physical therapy are not impacted. Weir said she will reevaluate the restrictions on March 31.

— Lisa Rodriguez

Friday, March 20

8 p.m. — A member of the Missouri House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19, according to a joint statement by House leadership. Rep. Joe Runions, D-Grandview, is the first Missouri lawmaker to test positive. Runions was an electrician and Grandview City Council member before being elected to the House in 2012. In a statement Friday, House leaders asked employees to “stay out of the Capitol for at least the next ten days.”

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

4:10 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said the state will soon ban gatherings of more than 10 people to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Until now, the 10-person limit had been a recommendation. Parson's new order follows guidelines issued this week by President Trump.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Parson stressed that the order — to be issued Saturday—won't require businesses to close.

Earlier Friday, a group of business leaders from across Missouri sent a letter to Parson urging him to put more restrictions in place to stem COVID-19. 

—Lisa Rodriguez

3:30 p.m. — Jackson County Health Department officials said a patient in eastern Jackson County has died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

It would be the first death from COVID-19 on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metro. A man in his 70s died last week in Wyandotte County.  

— Kyle Palmer 

3:00 p.m. — Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven cancelled state performance exams for public school students.

Every public school system in the state is currently closed to prevent coronavirus spread. Two school districts, Wright City and Warren County, both outside St. Louis, have cancelled classes for the rest of the school year. 

"There is a time and a place for statewide required assessments and now is not the time," Vandeven said. 

Most districts are currently closed until early April. But there’s little optimism school will resume before the end of May.

— Ryan Delaney, St. Louis Public Radio

12:30 p.m. — Sen. Josh Hawley said Friday he is working with the U.S. State Department to arrange for a group of Kansas City-area teenagers stranded in Guatemala to be repatriated back to the U.S. 

The group of 14 teens are in Guatemala as part of a mission trip with Platte Woods United Methodist Church north of the river. They were supposed to have flown back Friday, March 20, but Guatemala closed its borders to foreign travel to prevent the arrival of COVID-19. 

Read KCUR's story of parents' and the church's effort to get the teens back to the U.S.

Hawley said he had called to ask U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for help in the matter. 

— Kyle Palmer

12:00 p.m. — The grand opening of the much-anticipated downtown convention hotel in Kansas City has been delayed, due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

Loews Hotels & Co. announced Friday it would delay the opening of the new hotel, originally scheduled for April 2. A company statement said a new opening date had not yet been set. 

"In the coming weeks we will release a new date for the opening of Kansas City’s newest hotel, a hotel that we look forward to opening and celebrating with the entire destination of Kansas City, MO," the company statement said. 

— Kyle Palmer

11:50 a.m.— Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas is urging residents to fill out their U.S. Census forms online, by phone or mail, even amid the chaos prompted by the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau temporarily suspended all field operations for the 2020 Census until April 1, due to the virus' spread.

Lucas said with people practicing recommended social distancing, now is the perfect time to complete the 2020 Census from.

“An accurate Census count is essential and will ensure the federal resources Kansas City receives—funding for critical issues such as public safety, transportation, healthcare, housing and infrastructure—are reflective of our actual city population. Our community needs you—let’s make our voices count in Kansas City,” Lucas said in a statement.

According to Lucas' statement, each person not counted in the state of Missouri could result in a potential loss of $1,272 in federal funding per person per year.

Residents can fill out the Census form online at 2020census.gov or by phone by calling 1-844-330-2020.

— Lisa Rodriguez

9:30 a.m. — Johnson County has launched a coronavirus nurse hotline for people who need information. School nurses are available to answer people’s health questions, in an effort to take the pressure off public health staff; they fielded 352 calls on Wednesday, the hotline's first day. The number is 913-715-CV19 (or 913-715-2819). It operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

— Lynn Horsley

9 a.m. — All Kansas driver’s license offices will close from March 23 at least until April 6. This includes the offices in Kansas City, Kansas, Lawrence, Mission and Olathe. The Overland Park office has already closed. The Kansas Revenue Department has temporarily eliminated walk-in services at its larger driver’s license offices and is only accepting scheduled appointments (the department is reviewing whether driver’s license renewals can be extended). Vehicle registrations and some driver’s licenses can be renewed online.

— Lynn Horsley

Thursday, March 19

4:50 p.m. — University of Missouri System President Mun Choi has issued a directive that, starting at 12 a.m. on Monday, March 23, "no one physically works on our universities unless they are requested to do so by an appropriate supervisor." The directive did not apply to MU Health Care and the university system's clinical operations.

"Staff and faculty will either work remotely if they can or, if that is not possible, they will be paid through enhanced leave measures that we are putting into place," Choi said in a letter to the university community. "Faculty will continue remote teaching through the end of this week (Friday, March 20) and resume remote teaching Monday, March 30, following spring break."

Choi said university buildings will be secured.

"There are some students who do not have other options to support their continuing education, including international students. Those students will be allowed to remain in our residence halls. We will continue to provide dining options and other needs," he said.

— C.J. Janovy

4:15 p.m. — Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced that her office will file fewer non-violent cases and take other steps to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the county's detention center.

In a statement, Baker said her office will stop prosecutions of “driving while revoked” cases against drivers who don’t have a valid driver’s license and those cases will be referred to municipal courts. The prosecutor’s office will also broaden eligibility for a diversion program called New Start, which is a separate track from the drug, veteran’s and mental health courts. Bond conditions may also be minimized for those detainees who don’t pose a public safety or flight risk, she said.

“These actions announced today will protect public safety, but also keep some defendants out of our jail during this crisis,” Baker said. “This office has been proactive in limiting our impact on the criminal justice system, but today’s actions are necessary to address this public health crisis.”

— Peggy Lowe

2 p.m. — Grocery story chain Hy-Vee placed armed guards at some of its Kansas City-area stores on Thursday, a spokeswoman confirmed.

The chain had additional security at some stores between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., an hour which the company has now set aside for those 60 and older, pregnant women and those who consider themselves at high-risk for COVID-19.

“We want to make sure we are protecting this ‘at-risk’ population of customers, which includes our older customers, and providing them with the best experience,” Hy-Vee spokeswoman Tina Potthoff wrote in an email to KCUR

The chain will also only have one door at each store open during that hour because “we want to make sure everyone is being safe and respectful of others as they enter,” she wrote.

The special early-hour plan will continue indefinitely.

— Peggy Lowe

1:20 p.m. — Kansas City-based distillery J. Rieger & Co. said it sold out of its special "Rieger's Remedy" hand sanitizer on the first day of sales Thursday. 

Rieger is selling the 70% alcohol by volume sanitizer to help curb a shortage of the product in the metro amid the spreading COVID-19 outbreak.  

The company is not charging customers, who can get the sanitizer by driving up to the East Bottoms distillery, but they suggest paying $5 for a 2-oz. bottle and $30 for a 2-liter bottle.

The company said it will be using any proceeds from the sanitizer's sales to help pay its 95- person staff during the outbreak.

The limit is two bottles per customer. 

— Jodi Fortino

12:45 p.m. — Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids has announced she will self-quarantine "out of an abundance of caution" after coming into contact with a fellow member of Congress who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

12:30 p.m. — The State of Kansas has issued a new, 14-day quarantine mandate for spring break travelers returning from states with widespread COVID-19 community transmission.

The quarantine would apply to people who have traveled to California, New York, Washington and Florida on or after March 15; to Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado in the week prior to March 15 or after; or traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15. Additional quarantines are in place for international travelers.

Those who are under home quarantine should not attend school, work or any other setting where they are not able to maintain at about a 6-foot distance from other people. If a person under quarantine develops symptoms of COVID-19 during their 14-day quarantine period, including a measured fever of 100.4 (F) or higher and lower respiratory symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath, they should contact their healthcare provider and tell them about their recent travel or other COVID-19 exposure. More information is available at the KDHE website.

— Lynn Horsley

9:30 a.m. — Initial claims for unemployment benefits spiked during the week ending March 14, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report released Thursday morning.

Nationally, initial claims jumped 70,000 week-to-week.

“The increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus,” the department said in a news release.

Initial jobless claims also went up in both Missouri and Kansas. In Missouri, claims increased 28%. In Kansas, initial claims jumped 33%.

— Sam Zeff

Wednesday, March 18

7:55 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says the state is up to 24 cases of COVID-19, including the death in Boone County.

Parson said the cases are mostly "travel-related," though some are still under investigation. He did not provide more information about age or gender of the cases.

Parson also said that the state will soon set up mobile testing sites, though also did not provide specifics. He also said during his news conference that people need to continue to do social distancing and not travel unnecessarily.

— Erica Hunzinger

4 p.m. — The first confirmed death of COVID-19 in Missouri has occurred in Boone County, according to Gov. Mike Parson, who spoke at a media briefing Wednesday afternoon alongside Columbia Mayor Brian Treece and MU Healthcare Chief Clinical officer Dr. Stevan Whitt.

The patient tested positive Tuesday in a travel-related case.

“This is serious. We thank our public health officials for doing things that at first may seem onerous, like avoiding church, avoiding schools, avoiding university classes, avoiding public places,” Whitt said. “This is reinforcement that COVID-19 is really here and we need to do our part in taking care of our sick and needy people.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

11:20 a.m. — The Social Security Administration announced that all local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service. There are five Social Security offices in the Kansas City area – three in Kansas City, Missouri; one in Kansas City, Kansas; and one in Lenexa, Kansas.

The agency is encouraging the public to access services online. Members of the public can apply online for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card, or print a benefit verification letter. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section.

— Dan Margolies

10:30 a.m. — Municipal elections  in Missouri scheduled for April 7 are postponed until June 2, according to an executive order issued by Gov. Mike Parson Wednesday.

Kansas City voters were set to vote on a proposed increase to the city sales tax to help maintain buildings and buy new vehicles for the fire department.

“Given the growing concern surrounding COVID-19 and the large number of people elections attract, postponing Missouri’s municipal elections is a necessary step to help combat the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Missouri voters,” Parson said in a statement.

The move comes after a number of states including Ohio and Kentucky moved their presidential primary.

The deadline to register to vote has already passed. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is May 20.

— Aviva Okeson-Haberman

7:50 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said there have now been 15 "positive tests"  for COVID-19 in the state. Parson noted that in a tweet sent Tuesday evening. 

That news came as health IT giant Cerner confirmed Tuesday that one employee based at its south Kansas City campus had tested presumptive positive for the disease. It's unclear if the state's official count currently reflects that case. 

— Kyle Palmer

Tuesday, March 17

8:07 p.m. — Six members of the Kansas City council, who attended a National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C. , have been asked to self-quarantine, according to Morgan Said, spokesperson for Mayor Quinton Lucas.

“The National League of Cities learned today two attendees of the Congressional City Conference 2020 have tested positive for COVID-19. The individuals were active participants in the conference—attending general sessions and workshops,” the NLC said in a statement on its website.

—Sam Zeff

6:59 p.m. — Cerner confirms an employee based at their south Kansas City campus has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

Spokeswoman Misti Preston said in a statement that Cerner received notification today and is taking necessary precautions, including notifying employees who may have come into contact with the person and asking them to self-quarantine.

“Protecting associates’ health and continuing to meet our health care clients’ needs are our top priorities,” Preston said in an e-mail.

Tuesday afternoon, Cerner closed the Realization campus in Kansas City and relocated any non-exposed associates to other campuses. The Realization campus will remain closed until it’s cleaned and disinfected.

On Sunday, Cerner asked employees to work remotely if they can until March 30.

If confirmed by local health officials, it would be the first case of COVID-19 in Kansas City, Missouri.

—Lisa Rodriguez

4:30 p.m. — All Kansas K-12 schools must close for the rest of the school year in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday.

"I'm sure you all have a lot of questions. If you are a parent, an educator or a school district employee, your local district superintendent was briefed earlier today, and s/he will be in touch with you in the next 24 hours," Kelly said.

She also said a Kansas State Department of Education task force is looking into how to provide at-home learning resources, meals and more. Those recommendations will come Wednesday afternoon.

She also wants most employees at state agencies to stay home for two weeks starting March 23, though assures people essential state services will still be provided.

— Erica Hunzinger

3:17 p.m. — In the wake of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order to ban gatherings of 50 or more people, the Kansas Lottery announced Tuesday it will suspend operations at all state-owned casinos. The shutdown will begin at the close of business Tuesday and last at least until March 30. The affected casinos in Kansas include the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas Crossing in Pittsburg; Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane; and Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City.

"Everyone understands this is what we need to do to help Kansas,” said Cory Thone, spokesman for the Lottery. Thone acknowledged the closures would be a disruption for the lottery's 13 state employees as well as to the state's economy. According to the Lottery’s website, it has generated $1.8 billion in state revenues over the 31 years it's been operating. The funds go to address problem gambling and economic development.

— Laura Ziegler

2:50 p.m. — Douglas County, Kansas, has a confirmed case of COVID-19, a man in his 20s who was recently in Florida.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Department said Tuesday in a news release that it is identifying the man’s close contacts to make sure they know they’ve been exposed.

This brings the state’s count to 16; there are two other cases in the state, but those people are not from Kansas so the state health department is not using them in their count.

All K-12 schools in Douglas County, including Lawrence, as well as rec facilities and public libraries were shut down by the county health department last week. The University of Kansas announced Tuesday that all classes will resume next week, but online for the rest of the semester.

— Erica Hunzinger

2:35 p.m. — The Missouri Gaming Commission is ordering all 13 of the state’s riverboat casinos to shut down beginning at midnight tonight through March 30. The decision to close was reportedly made after consultation with Gov. Mike Parson.

“Our concern for the welfare of both patrons and employees of the riverboat gaming casinos was of utmost importance," Gaming Commission Chairman Mike Leara said in a statement. "We understand this closure affects patrons, employees, the home dock cities and counties, and the worthy causes such as the Missouri Veterans Capital Improvement Trust Fund, and others who receive tax revenue from Missouri’s casinos.”

The move will affect more than 8,500 casino employees and impact government revenue. Last year, the state’s casinos paid more than $364 million in gaming taxes to state and local governments, according to the commission’s 2019 annual report. The casinos also contributed $75 million in admission fees to various state funds and governments and paid real estate and sales taxes totaling $62 million. Four casinos operate in the Kansas City area: Ameristar, Argosy, Harrah’s and Isle of Capri. A fifth casino, St. Joe Frontier, operates in St. Joseph.

— Dan Margolies

1:40 p.m. — The first confirmed Covid-19 case in Jackson County has been announced by the Jackson County Health Department. It said the individual is a woman in her 80s who had not traveled recently. The case was identified by a private testing laboratory.

“We knew that Covid-19 was coming, and we’ve been preparing accordingly by monitoring individuals, educating the public, and working with our partners at all levels,” Jackson County Health Department Director Bridgette Shaffer said in a statement.

Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said that sharing the information “is key to keeping our community informed and safe, not to cause panic.”

The department urges people who have general questions about Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to call the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services’ hotline at (877) 435-8411. To contact the Jackson County Health Department, call Kayla Parker, communications specialist, at (816) 404-8424 or kayla.parker@tmcmed.org.

— Dan Margolies

1:35 p.m. — The University of Kansas said it’s taking classes online for the rest of the semester for both its Lawrence and Edwards campuses. The school also said students will need special exemptions to stay in dorms.

“It’s become clear that we, as a community, must now be very bold and intentional in our actions to limit face-to-face interaction,” university administrators said in a statement. “Only residents who need to maintain a physical presence on the Lawrence campus will be allowed to stay. This is a very hard decision, but one that is necessary to protect the health of students.”

KU said students who haven’t returned from spring break to campus housing should stay away while the school plans a moving-out process that can avoid large gatherings. The university is eliminating anything that brings more than 10 people together.

School officials told  the faculty and staff to work remotely “as much as is possible.”

KU also said it’s working with international students and professors to help them find off-campus accommodations.

And the school said its graduation ceremonies “is still to be determined.”

— Scott Canon

12:35 p.m. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, has confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in Wyandotte County to three. The first death in the Kansas City metro due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, was a Wyandotte County man in his 70s who died on March 12.

Both of the newly identified cases are women, one in her 40s and one in her 50s. The women were taken to separate hospitals with COVID-like symptoms and, in consultation with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, tested positive for the virus. The women have been released and are self-isolating in their homes.

Unified Government Public Health Department Spokeswoman Janell Friesen says investigators are currently conducting what is called “a contact tracing investigation,” to see who the patients may have exposed or been in contact with, including the individual who died on March 12. Friesen said the investigations are a call to action to adhere to measures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as Monday’s order from area counties to limit gatherings to 10 people, avoid bars and restaurants and keep a distance of at least six feet during social interactions.

“Having new cases in our area underscores the need for what may seem like harsh restrictions, Friesen said. “We know avoiding gatherings disrupts daily life for residents, it's hard on businesses. But taking these steps now is our best way to pro our community overall, especially those at highest risk of serious illness.”

She noted that Kansas City, Kansas, has a concentration of potentially vulnerable residents. “We know that the population hit hardest would be older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes,” Friesen said. “We know our county faces a lot of health inequities and we have a lot of residents who are faced with chronic health conditions.”

— Laura Ziegler

12:30 p.m. — Arts organizations in the metro are starting to extend closures into April and May, due to recent mandates to restrict gatherings of more than 10 people.

Kansas City Symphony has canceled or postponed more than a dozen concerts through May 10.  According to a news release Tuesday, the Symphony asks patrons to consider “donating the value of their tickets to the Symphony to help sustain the organization through this crisis.”

But, ticket holders can also exchange tickets for future concerts.

“Music is such an important part of life, most especially during a trying time like this,” said Symphony director Danny Beckley, in the release. “We will be rolling out a series of initiatives in the coming weeks to share music and other great digital content with our community in the safety and comfort of their homes.”

Kansas City Repertory Theatre cancelled its upcoming production, and final show of the season, “Noises Off!” scheduled to run March 27 – April 19. Ticket holders will received a refund, or they can also make a donation to KC Rep.

The Kansas City Museum at the Historic Garment District and the Historic Garment District Museum will be closed through April 4. Public tours, events and meetings are not expected to start back up until after May 15. The museum's annual Derby Party has been pushed back from May to September. 

Kansas City Young Audiences will now remain closed through April 3.

All remaining performances of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s season have been canceled. This includes the production of “The Shining,” an opera based on the Stephen King horror novel, scheduled for April 25-May 3, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

— Laura Spencer

11:40 a.m. — People needing a driver license in Missouri may be delayed because of the spreading coronavirus. 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Tuesday that it is suspending road tests until March 31.

“Written testing services will continue, but the Patrol will restrict the number of applicants allowed in each facility at one time to ensure recommended social distancing measures are followed. The location of services is subject to change due to building closures in some jurisdictions,” the Patrol said in a news release.

— Sam Zeff

10:15 a.m. — Hallmark Cards, Inc. has shut down its Kansas City headquarters for 48 hours.  

In a release Monday evening, the company said it was a “precautionary measure after one employee was potentially exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) in a social setting outside of work.” This employee is now in self-quarantine, as well as others who came in contact with this individual.

“The health and safety of our employees is our top priorty,” said CEO Sabrina Wiewel. “Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to temporarily close our headquarters facility for 48 hours and have our employees who work from home to do so. Those who cannot perform job functions at home will be paid for this time.”

According to Hallmark, cleaning crews will be cleaning high-touch surfaces and public areas.

— Laura Spencer

10 a.m. — Fort Leavenworth has asked all military personnel and civilians to follow social distancing and self-isolation guidance, and says it is evaluating “current day-to-day operations to ensure the safety” of those on base.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Joey Sullinger said in an email that the fort also has “no-touch ID authentication” at its controlled access points and suspended group activities like church services and career fairs.

No one at Fort Leavenworth, which has more than 5,000 service members and about 5,000 other personnel, is being actively monitored for the new coronavirus, nor does it have any cases. Sullinger said that should the on-base clinic need to test someone, it would have to send samples elsewhere for results.

— Erica Hunzinger

9:50 a.m. — Health officials in Cass County, Missouri, say they have confirmed the county's first case of the novel coronavirus. It is the eighth confirmed case of the virus in Missouri and the closest to Kansas City on the Missouri side of the border. 

A statement from the Cass County Health Department said the patient is in home isolation, per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Drexel. 

Health officials said they are working to "identify and contact people who may have come into contact with the individual." 

— Kyle Palmer

9:25 a.m. — Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has proposed legislation aimed at helping families facing economic uncertainty amid the spread of the coronavirus. 

The freshman Republican's bill, titled the Emergency Family Relief Act, would provide families "experiencing school closures or financial hardship a fully refundable monthly benefit lasting through the coronavirus emergency."

The proposal would give $1,446 a month for a family of three, $1,786 for a family of four and $2,206 for a family of five.

"Let’s not overthink this," Hawley said in a statement Tuesday morning. "These families need relief — now — to pay bills that are coming due, make those emergency grocery runs, and get ready for potential medical bills."

— Kyle Palmer

Monday, March 16

8 p.m. — Most Kansas City area schools will close until at least April 3.

The decision closes 15 districts: Kansas City, Missouri, Belton, Blue Springs, Center, Grandview, Hickman Mills, Independence, Kearney, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Platte County, Raytown and Smithville.

The six Johnson County, Kansas, school districts — Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Olathe, De Soto, Spring Hill and Gardner Edgerton — have also said they will close until at least April 5.

Charters and private schools in Kansas City, Missouri, will also close.

Full story: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas Orchestrates Metro School Closings To Stem Coronavirus.

— Elle Moxley

6:32 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Monday evening that any gathering of more than 10 people will be prohibited in Kansas City, Missouri.

In a sweeping new mandate, Lucas said all schools, public, private, charter and parochial, will close no later than Wednesday, March 18, until at least April 2. 

Restaurants and taverns should serve customers via drive-thru, pickup, or delivery and visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities will not be allowed.

In the statement, Lucas said he understood the effect the new mandates will have on local workers.

“I will continue working round-the-clock with our partners on all levels of government to identify relief measures for everyone impacted and resolve this situation as quickly as possible, while continuing to ensure the well-being of the greater public," he wrote.

Lucas will re-evaluate this guidance by April 1.

Full story: Kansas City Mayor Calls On Bars And Restaurants To Close To Prevent Spread Of COVID-19.

— Lisa Rodriguez

5:00 p.m. — Johnson County, Kansas, courts put further shutdowns in place Monday, rescheduling all traffic and small claims cases until May 11.

Last Friday, 10th Judicial Chief Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan postponed all jury trials until May 1. No new marriage ceremonies will be scheduled either, the court also announced on Friday.

The move Monday followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement on Sunday recommending against gatherings of 50 or more, said Katherine Stocks, court administrator. 

— Peggy Lowe

4:35 p.m. — Kansas City bars and restaurants are closing their doors to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus. 

A day ahead of St. Patrick' Day, one of the most popular party days of the year in the metro, Kelly’s Westport Inn announced it would close until further notice.

In a statement to KCUR, Kelly’s co-owner Colleen Kelly said her family was “saddened to close our doors but know it’s in the best interest of our staff, community and customers.” She said they look forward to reopening “when the time is right.”

Earlier in the day, Dodson’s bar in Waldo announced it was closing indefinitely. In a post on Instagram, Dodson’s acknowledged it was a polarizing decision: “But as a team, we believe it’s in the community’s best interest to shut it down. Because we support you.”

So far, Mayor Quinton Lucas has not mandated bars and restaurants close.

— Lisa Rodriguez

3:50 p.m. — The Kansas Supreme Court has restricted visitor access to its courthouse in Topeka, limiting it to judges, employees and people who have court business that can’t be conducted online or via the mail.

It also directed judges and court employees statewide to self-quarantine and not report to work for 14 days if they or people with whom they have close contact traveled after March 1 to any international destination, traveled on a cruise ship or traveled to areas in the United States with widespread community transmission.

The Supreme Court had previously canceled oral arguments on 17 appeals scheduled for next week.

— Dan Margolies 

2:50 p.m. — Kansas State University is going fully online for the rest of the semester, the school announced Monday afternoon.

Dorms and dining halls will close starting March 20, though the school will take 10 days to get it finished. There will be some exceptions for students who don’t have a permanent residence or can’t return there, including international students.

Commencement ceremonies in May are also canceled.

“Making these decisions has not been easy, but the health of our students, families and communities is paramount,” K-State President Richard Myers said in the letter to students, staff and faculty.

The University of Kansas has not updated its plans since last week, meaning online classes will be taught for at least the week of March 23, with the school reassessing weekly after that.

— Erica Hunzinger

2:40 p.m. — Kansans will not be allowed to gather in groups greater than 50, according to a mandate from Gov. Laura Kelly.

Kansas is now up to 11 cases of the new coronavirus, with Johnson County confirming two more. The county health department had not provided details about those cases.

Kelly’s executive order follows guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If we don’t take this seriously,” she said in a news conference, “we endanger everyone.”

She said she’d be talking with the association that represents restaurants, which will need to decide how they’ll follow the mandate. It’s the same situation with grocery stores.

Kelly did say that K-12 schools will be fine, because classrooms already adhere to national standards of 30 students per room.

Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and Via Christie hospital in Wichita will set up drive-through clinics, but he didn’t know when those would start.

Norman also said that the executive order is “not just a theory, this is very real.”

— Jim McLean

2:20 p.m. — The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (BPU) says it is suspending disconnections for non-payment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The BPU "will not disconnect utility service for non-payment as customers and communities are facing potential hardship from coronavirus," said in a statement on its website Monday afternoon.

BPU is a publicly owned utility that serves 160,000 customers in Wyandotte County.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Corporation Commission acted Monday to address coronavirus, as well.

"This morning, the KCC used its emergency powers to issue an order suspending utility disconnects for nonpayment until April 15 to offer relief to those experiencing hardship from the COVID-19 virus," the KCC said in a tweet Monday.

— Sam Zeff

2:10 p.m. — The Missouri Supreme Court has canceled most in-person court proceedings in the state’s trial and appellate courts, including associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate matters, through Friday, April 3.

According to the high court's order, the presiding judges of Missouri’s 46 judicial circuits, such as Jackson, Clay and Platte, as well as the chief judges of the state’s three appeals court districts, will have discretion to provide for certain exceptions.

Such exceptions include:

  • Proceedings necessary to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants and juveniles;
  • Proceedings in which civil or criminal jury trials are already in progress as of March 16, 2020;
  • Proceedings pertaining to orders of protection;
  • Proceedings related to emergency child custody orders;
  • Proceedings for temporary restraining orders or other forms of temporary injunctive relief;
  • Proceedings related to emergency mental health orders;
  • Proceedings for emergency guardianship or conservatorship;
  • Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • Oral arguments regarding time-sensitive matters; and
  • Other exceptions approved by the chief justice of the Supreme Court

Judges will still be able to rule on any matters not requiring personal court appearances.
— Dan Margolies 

1:50 p.m. — The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has suspended all public masses through at least April 3, according to a statement from the diocesan office Monday. 

This amends a March 13 dispensation that relieved church members from the obligation of attending mass if they were exposed to the coronavirus or “feel, in conscience, that they may be endangered by COVID-19 by their presence in a group of people.”   

Local parishes were encouraged to live-stream masses to their parishioners or record and then upload them online. The statement also said weddings coming up in the next month should be rescheduled. Baptisms could proceed, but only with "asymptomatic immediate family and godparents" in attendance. 

— Kyle Palmer 

1:35 p.m. — More arts organizations are postponing gallery talks or putting productions on hold.

Coterie Theatre has canceled all the remaining performances of "Puffs," and postponed the upcoming production of "Pete the Cat."

KC Fringe Festival has “paused” upcoming events for the next two months. According to organizers: “Based on our current understanding of the situation, we believe KC Fringe 2020 will take place as planned, and we are preparing accordingly.”

Kansas City Actors Theatre will also postpone performances of its current production of “St. Nicholas” at the Buffalo Room. In a release, the KCAT artistic board wrote, “This decision, made with a heavy heart but in absolute solidarity with our theater friends who have had to make similar difficult decisions in recent days, is a practical one demanded by the current public health crisis. Although our audiences fall below the threshold of 50 now mandated by Kansas City, we feel this is the right thing to do.”

Kansas City Artists Coalition has postponed its Queer Flowers panel discussion, and Writing Workshop KC sessions will be held on-line through the end of the month.

MTH at Crown Center has postponed “Carousel,” the largest production in the company’s history, with a note saying, “It is impossible to cancel performances without creating lasting hardships for our company, our staff, and our artists.”

Mesner Puppet Theater canceled April performances of "The Pied Piper of Hamlin" by CactusHead Puppets.

The New Theatre & Restaurant has canceled the remainder of its run of “Church Basement Ladies” starring Cindy Williams of “Laverne & Shirley” fame. 

Unicorn Theatre will cancel the remaining performances of “American Son” and suspend operations indefinitely.

Weinberger Fine Art has canceled upcoming scheduled events, including April First Fridays. Private viewings of artwork are available by appointment by contacting emma@weinbergerfineart.com. 

To date, Metropolitan Ensemble Theater (MET) has postponed, but not canceled, the opening of its production of “Mother of the Maid” until March 25. In an email, MET described extra precautions: “The theatre, seating, lobby, restrooms and all spaces will be disinfected prior to the first performance and will be retreated prior to each successive performance throughout the run.”

— Laura Spencer

11:55 a.m. — Kansas is running low on some coronavirus testing supplies, but Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman said more are on the way.

Specialized swabs and vials to transport the samples to the KDHE lab in Topeka. What’s more, there aren't too many more testing kits left in Kansas.

“At our current run rate, we would probably have a week’s supply left,” Norman said, “but we have assurances that we’re going to get some replenishment of that this week.”

Those testing kits come from a company who has a contract with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Norman also said private labs are starting to ramp up, including one in the Kansas City metro area that’ll handle testing for the University of Kansas Health System.

— Jim McLean

11 a.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Monday he is not yet mandating the closure of bars and restaurants statewide.

Parson met with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas at City Hall Monday morning for a briefing on COVID-19 preparedness. On Sunday, Lucas issued a mandate prohibiting events and gathering of 50 or more people and on Monday, urged people to “reconsider” going out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday.

Establishments that openly violate that mandate could have liquor or food permits revoked. Lucas said more announcements regarding bars and restaurants would be coming later Monday. He also said the city would not mandate the mass closure of schools at this time. 

Parson also said more COVID-19 testing kits are coming online in the next few days. State health director Dr. Randall Williams said by April, any Missourian with a fever and a cough, the two main symptoms of the coronavirus infection, will be able to be tested.

Currently, the state can run about 1000 tests a day. As of Monday morning, Missouri had tested 170 people for the coronavirus.

- Lisa Rodriguez

10:40 a.m. — Mid-Continent Public Library announced it will close all metro branches at noon Monday and remain closed at least through the end of March. 

"We know that libraries are vital hubs in our communities, so our default is to assume we should be open to serve, especially in difficult times," the library said in a statement. "But we also value the well-being of our customers and staff above all else. All of the information we have received from the public health community suggests that well-being is best served by a period of social distancing."

Mid-Continent is one of the metro's biggest library systems with more than 35 branches in Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties. 

— Kyle Palmer

9:35 a.m. — Missouri health officials say they have tested for a sixth positive case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Gov. Mike Parson, in a press conference at Kansas City Hall Monday morning, said the new positive case came from "southwest Missouri." 

The state Department of Health and Senior Services said so far the state has tested 170 individuals for the new coronavirus. 

— Kyle Palmer

4:30 a.m. — Jackson County Executive Frank White has amended his order of last week to ban gatherings of 50 people or more.

“Everyone plays a significant role to reduce the transmission of this virus and now is the time to be vigilant," White said in a Sunday night statement.

— Sam Zeff

Sunday, March 15

7:50 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that no events or gatherings can have 50 or more attendees for the eight weeks. 

Under the state of emergency declaration, Lucas has broad power to take measures such as closing bars, restaurants and liquor stores and enacting curfews.

But following reports of larger-than-normal crowds at area entertainment districts over the weekend, Mayor Lucas tweeted Sunday that additional mandates were likely coming, saying, quote, “social distancing isn’t working to the extent necessary.

The mandate comes after several states, including Illinois, Ohio and California, ordered bars and restaurants statewide be shut down. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said this evening that he encouraged to limit public gatherings to 50 people or less, not including schools, day cares or businesses.

— Lisa Rodriguez

7:05 p.m. — A sixth case of COVID-19 has been identified in Johnson County, Kansas, the county announced Sunday.

It’s not clear where the man in his 50s contracted the virus, according to county health department spokeswoman Barbara Mitchell. The man is “isolated appropriately at home and doing well,” she said.

The man’s family is in quarantine with him at home and the department is working to identify any of his close contacts, Mitchell said, adding that those who were exposed will be contacted by the department as soon as possible.

“The best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and make sure to stay home when you are ill,” said Mary Beverly, the department’s interim director.

Any new cases will be posted daily at www.jocogov.org/coronavirus.

— Peggy Lowe

6:15 p.m. — The Independence, Missouri, school district says it won’t hold classes through March 30.

The district, which just had its spring break, is one of the first in the Kansas City metro area to outright cancel classes for an extended period of time.

Many districts, including Kansas City, Missouri, and Shawnee Mission, are on spring break this week.

— Erica Hunzinger

5:30 p.m. — Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said he "strongly recommends" that all K-12 schools close this week in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. 

In a series of tweets Sunday afternoon, the state Education Department said schools not scheduled to have their spring breaks the week of March 16-20 should close for the week, while districts that were supposed to have spring break should carry on as planned. 

"Closing all schools during this same period of time provides Kansas officials the time needed to finalize a comprehensive plan for how to address COVID-19," the department's tweets said. 

"It is critical that we all follow a coordinated response to this situation."

— Kyle Palmer

5:25 p.m. — Cerner Corp., the biggest private employer in the Kansas City area with about 14,000 full-time employees, said it had asked employees capable of working from home to do so beginning Monday and continuing through March 30.

The health information technology giant said it could extend that time, depending on circumstances. It said it was “implementing social distancing strategies to help reduce the risk of exposure” to the novel coronavirus.

The company said it has also halted all international and non-critical travel.

In a news release, Cerner noted that it routinely works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to monitor the threat of disease outbreaks.

— Dan Margolies

4:40 p.m. — Kansas now says people should stay at home for 14 days if they’ve traveled to a number of places, including states where there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19 or one of four Colorado counties.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued new guidance Sunday. It also said there are no new cases of COVID-19, so the state's count is at 8 with one death.

The full list for 14-day home quarantine includes:

  • State with known widespread community transmission (currently California, New York and Washington state) on or after March 15.
  • Visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado within the past week.
  • Traveled on a cruise ship on or after March 15 (people who have previously been told to quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should finish out their quarantine).
  • Traveled internationally on or after March 15 (people who have previously been told to quarantine because of their international travel should finish out their quarantine.

“We know there are a lot of questions and concerns from people,” KDHE Secretary Lee Norman in a news release. “One thing we want to stress is that having contact with someone who may have been exposed to someone who may be a COVID-19 case is not a reason to worry or quarantine yourself. Public health officials will notify you if you are a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19.”
— Erica Hunzinger

2:40 p.m. — The Kansas City Public Library will be closed until further notice, starting at 5 p.m Sunday. Classes, activities and outreach services are canceled, and holds will still be available once the library reopens.

The library requests that books not be returned to the branches or the dropboxes outside, even if they are due.

In a release, the library called the decision “a difficult one,” but said it’s the “responsible thing to do.” The e-library will still be available for access.

Erica Hunzinger

10:40 a.m. — Just three dozen people attended 9 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, on Sunday, as social distancing because of the new coronavirus kicked in across houses of worship.

Friends greeted each other with a shake of an elbow before the service and Bishop James Johnston set new guidelines for interaction. Only priests would be allowed to drink sacrificial wine from the chalice, and he urged people to take Communion in their hands rather than having him place it on their tongues.

“This is a good time to think about how to receive the Lord,” he said. 

Holy water fonts were dry, physical contact was suspended and the sign of peace, usually a handshake or hug just before communion, was dropped.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph issued a directive on Friday that dispenses people from the obligation of Sunday Mass if they were exposed to the coronavirus or “feel, in conscience, that they may be endangered by COVID-19 by their presence in a group of people.” 

As KCUR’s Dan Margolies reported, services and other religious events across the Kansas City metro area have been cancelled or gone online as the city asked for organizations to take drastic steps to prevent spreading the virus.

— Peggy Lowe

Saturday, March 14

8:35 p.m. — Another case of the COVID-19 coronavirus has been confirmed in Greene County, Missouri. The state Department of Health and Senior Services said in a news release Saturday night that the case was travel-related but didn’t provide any more information.

It’s the fifth case in the state: one in Henry County, two in St. Louis County and now two in Greene County, which includes Springfield.

The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory has tested 127 people for COVID-19 as of Saturday, according to DHSS.

— Erica Hunzinger

7:55 p.m. — Kansas State University has changed its plans regarding on-campus living.

It sent a letter to students Saturday detailing what it called “unprecedented steps.” With exceptions, K-State students won’t be able to live on campus or come back to pick up or move out of their dorm rooms unless approved.

To gain entrance to on-campus housing, students must call to set up a time and can only pick up medication or a laptop. “We will not allow students to pick up textbooks or other class materials,” the news release said.

K-State has exceptions for people who are able to stay on campus: international students who can’t return home or have temporary lodging off-campus; students with disability or health condition that keeps them from going home; students whose family members are ill and don’t have anywhere else to go; and students who can’t go home but also don’t have a temporary off-campus place to stay.

The university said that it will update students on when they will be able to retrieve more than medication and laptops, but could not give a specific timetable due to “the projected rate of growth” in coronavirus cases.

— Erica Hunzinger

5:38 p.m. — All Johnson County Library locations are closed through March 31 to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, the library announced Saturday.

There won’t be fines during the closure, pickup dates on holds will be adjusted and online resources like e-books are still available, the library said. Its branches serve an average of 38,000 people a week and “employs a number of at-risk populations.”

— Erica Hunzinger

5:33 p.m. — A parent of a child who goes to Lenexa Hills Elementary has a confirmed coronavirus case, according to a release from the Shawnee Mission School District. The Johnson County Health Department would not comment to KCUR beyond its earlier news release whether the parent is one of the previously announced COVID-19 cases. 

The parent's family is in self-quarantine, according to Superintendent Dr. Mike Fulton, and that people who were in direct contact with the parent have been notified. Fulton also said the risk of exposure to anyone at the school is "very low."

The district is on spring break, and was scheduled to return on March 23. Fulton said that all district schools will be deep-cleaned and disinfected, adding that "the situation continues to be very fluid."

Johnson County has the most cases so far in Kansas with five.

— Dan Margolies and Erica Hunzinger

3:40 p.m. — Many arts organizations across the metro will be closed through April 3, including the National WWI Museum and Memorial starting at 5 p.m. today (though the grounds will stay open to the public).

The museum’s president and CEO, Dr. Matthew Naylor, said in a release that history shows “pandemics are best managed when communities work in partnership. Failure to do so can change the course of history.”

The American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum also announced they were closing Saturday, including the Blue Room and the Gem Theater. The Kansas City Repertory Theatre canceled its "Origin KC: New Works Festival" scheduled to open Friday and run through April 5. The White Theatre at The J has also canceled performances.

In addition to ones we listed earlier this week, The Barn Players, The Folly Theater, Friends of Chamber Music, Harriman Jewell, Heartland Men’s Chorus, JCCC Carlsen Center, Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, Starlight Theatre, and Wonderscope have all canceled performances and events or closed.

Kansas City Actors Theatre and the Unicorn Theatre plan to continue performances.

Some galleries in the Crossroads Arts District also remain open, including the Belger Arts Center, Haw Contemporary Crossroads (and its Stockyards location), and Sherry Leedy Contemporary, though it’s probably best to call ahead to confirm.

— Laura Spencer and Erica Hunzinger

1:30 p.m. — A new case of coronavirus was confirmed in Franklin County, south of Lawrence, officials said Saturday.

The county’s news release didn’t provide details about the infected person, other than to say that “anyone who we believe has come in close contact … has been quarantined.”

The county health department also discouraged inside gatherings of more than 100 people.

— Erica Hunzinger

12:17 p.m. — The Lawrence Public Library is closed through March 29, by order of the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Department.

The Olathe Public Library will “become a quick browsing and reference location to promote social distancing” through the weekend. On Monday, the library will close.

The Kansas City, Mid-Continent and Johnson County libraries are open as of Saturday, though programs, events and group activities are canceled through at least March 31. The MCPL has extended due dates through April 15.

— Laura Spencer

12:10 p.m. — Chris Gray, a spokesman for Johnson County Community College, said the school was not at liberty to identify the woman or whether she was a student, instructor or administrator.

But he said JCCC was cooperating with the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, which has been in contact with the woman to determine where and when she was on campus and who she may have come in contact with.

“KDHE will be reaching out to any individual that they feel may have come in contact with or been compromised by this person,” Gray said. “But as far as us being able to say, even loosely, the name but what this person did or didn't do on campus or when she was on campus or not, we do not have any of that information that we can provide at this point in time.” 

The president of JCCC will be posting a statement later this afternoon, Gray added.

— Dan Margolies

10:55 a.m. Johnson County has a fifth case of coronavirus, Kansas' seventh, the county health department said in a news release Saturday morning.

The woman, in her 50s, is associated with Johnson County Community College, is hospitalized and her family is quarantined. JCCC closed on Friday through March 29 and plans to hold online classes after that.

Interim county health director Barbara Mitchell said it's the first known case of local transmission in Johnson County.

Wyandotte County's COVID-19 death was due to local transmission. Three men and one woman in Johnson County were diagnosed in the last week, all from travel, as well as a man from Butler County, Kansas.

— Erica Hunzinger

6:35 a.m. — Missouri's fourth confirmed coronavirus case is in Henry County, in the western part of the state. The Department of Health and Social Services said in a news release that the person initially was hospitalized in Clinton before being transferred on March 8, where they were tested for COVID-19 and remain.

Golden Valley Memorial Hospital in Clinton has been advised to not admit new patients and is not handling emergency services. 

“It is vital that we act quickly with protective measures," Henry County Health Center administrator Peggy Bowles said in the release. 

St. Louis County has two cases, and the other is in Springfield.

— Erica Hunzinger

Friday, March 13

7:30 p.m. — The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas said a person who later tested positive for the novel coronavirus had entered the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, on March 10 and attended a bankruptcy hearing.

The person was not symptomatic at the time, according to Tim O’Brien, clerk of the court, but as a precautionary measure, the bankruptcy court clerk’s office has closed for two weeks as of Friday.

Bankruptcy hearings will be rescheduled or may be heard via telephone. Also, the federal court in Kansas issued two administrative orders barring people who have traveled to certain countries or may have been exposed to the virus from entering the courthouse.

Dan Margolies

7:00 p.m. — University of Missouri officials announced Friday night that classes at all four campuses of the state system, including UMKC, will be conducted online through the rest of the 2020 spring semester. 

"We are taking this action with an abundance of caution for the health of students, faculty, staff and visitors," UM system leaders said in a statement. "There are many aspects of this plan that will continue to require ongoing extraordinary efforts from our university community, as well as our students and their families."

The statement went on to say other campus facilities, including libraries, dining halls and dorms would remain open "to ensure students can continue their education from wherever best suits their individual needs."

Kyle Palmer

6:10 p.m. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also said two new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in his state. There are now four cases statewide.

One of the new cases is a St. Louis County resident in their 50s, according to the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

Parson did not release any details about the second case.

Parson said the state health department will be receiving more COVID-19 test kits from the CDC quote “very soon” — bringing the total number of test kits in Missouri to 16-hundred.

Shahla Farzan, St. Louis Public Radio

5:30 p.m. — Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health has ordered all K-12 schools in the county to close for 14 days in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 

The order, issued Friday, also includes all recreational facilities and public libraries in the county. 

There has currently been no confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Douglas County. 

— Kyle Palmer

4:50 p.m. — Jury trials in Johnson County, Kansas, are postponed until May 1, although the courhouse will remain open for business, Chief Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan announced Friday.

Any jurors who received a summons for trials scheduled from Monday, March 16, through May 1 do not need to report to the courthouse, according to Kelly’s order. The jurors’ names will be placed back into the jury pool and and they may be summoned later in the year, he said.

All non-jury court proceedings scheduled for an in-court appearance through May 1 may be continued, but is left up to the discretion of the presiding judge in each case, the order said.

No new marriage ceremonies will be scheduled, said Katherine Stocks, administrator of the 10th Judicial District Court. If a couple already has a date, they should reach out to the judge planning to perform their ceremony before arriving at the courthouse, she said.

“We are working to limit the number of individuals coming to the courthouse, while maintaining services to the public,” Stocks said.

-Peggy Lowe

3:40 p.m. — The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey has joined other metro cities and counties and declared a local state of emergency.

“This is the next logical step in our strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Alvey said Friday in a news release.

Alvey said he’d spoken with the mayors of nearby Bonner Springs and Edwardsville about the status of the virus outbreak in their areas and a coordinated response. Alvey said he made the decision in consultation with the U.G.'s Director of Emergency Management.

— Laura Ziegler

2:15 p.m. — The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will close Saturday through Friday, April 3, “in solidarity with the city and the nation in response to the coronavirus.” All museum events will be cancelled and there will be no public access to the museum.

“We recognize that during challenging times, art can be a source of inspiration, comfort, and human expression,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, the museum's CEO and director. “The Nelson-Atkins will continue to be that source, and we encourage our guests to visit online for information and updates.”

Museum officials say they’ll reassess the situation after the three-week closure.

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is closing at 9 p.m. today and will remain closed through Friday, April 3.

The Kansas City Art Institute will close all public facilities on its campus starting at 5 p.m. on March 13. Students will be on spring break through March 22; on March 23, the campus starts a “remote study week” where “students are encouraged to stay home.” The campus begins remote instruction on March 30. KCAI’s H&R Block Artspace will also close Friday at 5 p.m. Normal campus operations are expected to resume on April 6.

Kansas City Young Audiences is also closed Friday through 3/22. No classes and no spring break campus will be offered during this time.

— Laura Spencer

2:00 p.m. — Johnson County Community College and the five separate campuses of Metropolitan Community Colleges are all closed and have canceled gatherings and activities. JCCC’s campus will close Saturday, March 14 through April 5, with all classes delivered online as of March 23 (after spring break). Metropolitan Community College campuses will be closed through Sunday, March 22 (the end of their spring break).

Kansas City Kansas Community College remains open and fully operational; the college website says it is “closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak. KCKCC is taking proactive steps to help ensure the health and safety of our employees, students and community at large.”

— Laura Ziegler

1:45 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is set to declare a state of emergency at a press conference later Friday afternoon at the state capitol in Jefferson City. 

As of Friday afternoon, there are two "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19 in Missouri, both in people who recently traveled in Europe. 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, as well as Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, declared states of emergencies in their jurisdictions on Thursday. 

— Kyle Palmer 

1:05 p.m. — Leawood has closed its City Hall to the public due to "possible COVID-19 exposure," according to city officials. 

A tweet from the city's parks and recreation department said the building is being sanitized and will be closed until further notice. 

— Kyle Palmer

11:50 a.m. — Kansas City's Municipal Court has postponed most scheduled hearings starting Monday and running through April 10. 

In a release Friday morning, the court said some case hearings would continue as scheduled, including those in the Domestic Violence Court, Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Treatment Court.

The court urged witnesses and victims to contact the city prosecutor's office for more information, by calling 816-513-6750 or by email at witness@kcmor.org. 

— Kyle Palmer 

11 a.m. — Jury trials scheduled in Jackson County Circuit Court for the next two weeks are postponed. 

Jury trials will be suspended from March 16 through March 27, “as well as other hearings that involve bringing in a large number of people,” according to a statement sent by the court late Thursday.

“The Court desires to employ all reasonable and prudent measures to help protect the general public, litigants, lawyers and employees from the spread of COVID-19 creating this emergency,” Judge David Byrn wrote in an order.

Hearings for defendants in the Jackson County Detention Center will take place via video conferencing, the release said.

Byrn’s order also cancels jurors from being brought in to the downtown Kansas City courthouse for the next two weeks, postpones high-volume dockets such as landlord-tenant cases and small claims, and orders of protection.

— Peggy Lowe

10:40 a.m. — Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe is warning residents to be aware of scams related to COVID-19, such as natural remedies and unapproved medical treatments.

Howe said his office has already received calls about price gouging of some items, such as disinfecting wipes.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly declared a state of emergency on Thursday.

During a declared state of emergency, businesses are prohibited from a significant price hike in essential goods or services, including food and health items, as well as medical supplies and services.

— Laura Spencer

7:10 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Corrections is suspending most outside visits for the next 30 days in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In a  letter sent Thursday, the department pointed out that correctional centers are confined spaces where people have close contact.  “While we recognize that visiting is an essential part of rehabilitation, the department must protect the health and wellness of all who live in, work in, and visit state prisons," the letter read.

Attorney visits will still be allowed.

—Michelle Skalicky, KSMU

Thursday, March 12

8:45 p.m. — Jackson County Executive Frank White declared a state of emergency for the county.

It essentially extends the state of emergency announced by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas earlier Thursday to the entire county.

Like the city’s, the county's calls for no gatherings of more than a 1,000 people.

“This fast-moving virus does not know city, county or state lines,” White said in a statement. “It is critical that our response is not limited by such geographical boundaries either.”

— Sam Zeff

8:15 p.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly declared a state of emergency in response to the growing threat of a coronavirus outbreak. 

The declaration was issued hours before the state announced that a Wyandotte County man in his 70s was the first death in Kansas from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

"We are working on identifying  contacs right now. We understand the concern and encourage Kansans to remain vigilant," Dr. Lee Norman, head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said in a statement. 

— Kyle Palmer

7:23 p.m. — A 70-year-old man who lived in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County is the first known death from the new coronavirus in Kansas, state officials said Thursday night.

Kansas also has declared a state of emergency, which gives the government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan. The man was admitted to Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, on Tuesday and died Wednesday morning. A postmortem test found the COVID-19 virus.

The man was not among the state's official count of cases, which had risen to four earlier in the day. State officials were expected to give more details at a news conference on Thursday evening.

— Erica Hunzinger

4:17 p.m. — A Springfield resident who recently returned from Europe is the second person in Missouri to test “presumptive positive” for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson made the announcement at a press conference in Springfield with local officials.

“The case is a travel-related case. The patient is an individual in their 20s from Springfield who had recently traveled to Austria,” Parson said. Parson said the patient went to a CoxHealth facility that was not a hospital.

— Jennifer Moore, Michelle Skalicky (KSMU) 

4:15 p.m. — Several Kansas City area school districts will be closed Friday, March 13, a day before students were scheduled to begin their spring breaks.

In a video message, Kansas City Public Schools superintendent Mark Bedell said that the district is taking the state of emergency Mayor Quinton Lucas declared very seriously. "Our goal is to be able to provide you a thorough update on Wednesday or Thursday of the spring break week as far as our district is concerned about COVID-19," Bedell said.

The Belton, Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas school districts will also be closed on Friday ahead of spring break, though students in KCK were scheduled to be off Friday anyway. 

Shawnee Mission sent third through eighth graders home with iPads on Thursday, their last day before spring break. High schoolers in Shawnee Mission still have class on Friday. Superintendent Mike Fulton said at a school board meeting that the district is still trying to figure out what it would do about learning if classes can't resume after the holiday.

“The K-2 students weren’t able to take their iPads home because there weren’t enough chargers to send home with them," Fulton said.

—Elle Moxley

3:50 p.m. — The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts says it will postpone or cancel all events for the next 21 days, through April 1, as directed by the city of Kansas City, Missouri, and by Mayor Quinton Lucas. According to a statement on the Kauffman Center's website, this will impact the following organizations:

  • American Theatre Guild/Kansas City Broadway Series
  • Kansas City Symphony
  • Lyric Opera of Kansas City

Other events, such as "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live" and Shen Yun, Concerts from the Summit Featuring Lee’s Summit High School and University of Central Missouri’s 2020 President’s Gala and performances by Heritage Philharmonic will also be postponed (and patrons are advised to contact the Kauffman Center).
Charlotte Street Foundation has canceled two events: Making Moves #15: Flamenco! scheduled for Thursday night, and EMCC on Saturday.

The Epsten Gallery at Village Shalom remains closed until further notice.

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre also announced changes to its weekend schedule

—Laura Spencer

3:20 p.m. — Joining other local colleges and universities, UMKC announced it will move to online-only classes, Monday, March 16. School officials also said all spring and summer study abroad programs will be canceled. 

Though no novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Kansas City, Missouri, UMKC officials said "we are doing our part to limit exposure to our campus family and to limit the spread of the disease." 

Classes will be completely canceled Friday, March 13, to allow faculty time to prepare for the move to online-only work. 

— Kyle Palmer

2:40 p.m. — Planet Comicon Kansas City will postpone its annual gathering at the Kansas City Convention Center, which was scheduled for the weekend of March 20-22. 

The event's organizers said they will attempt to reschedule for later this fall. "Until then, please stay safe and take responsible actions to protect yourself in this currentl climate." 

— Kyle Palmer 

1:35 p.m. — The University of Kansas Athletics Department has suspended all teams' travel indefinitely. This could mean the top-ranked men's basketball team will not participate in the upcoming NCAA tournament. 

"While we are disappointed for the players, it was the right and necessary thing to do. This is bigger than a sport or a championship," coach Bill Self said in a statement. 

It was unclear as of Thursday afternoon whether the NCAA tournament, which is set to begin next week, will be played. The NCAA had already barred most fans from attending tournament games. Duke University also said Thursday it would not participate in the tournament. 

— Kyle Palmer, Greg Echlin

1:20 p.m. — The Barstow School, a private K-12 school along State Line Road in south Kansas City, has closed its campus and canceled all school activities for Thursday and Friday. 

In a statement on the school's Facebook page, Barstow officials said "a person related to a faculty member" is being tested for "possible exposure to COVID-19." School officials said no faculty or staff member has shown symptoms of the coronavirus. 

The school is set to begin a two-week spring break. School officials the campus will remain closed through at least March 29.

— Kyle Palmer, Elle Moxley 

12:42 p.m. — The Southeastern Conference and Western Athletic Conference have canceled their men's and women's basketball tournaments.

The move came after many other major collegiate athletic conferences canceled their tournaments, as well, including the Big 12.

The WAC's announcement is an especially bitter pill for the UMKC women's basketball team. The Roos had earned the tournament's top seed for the first time in school history. 

The SEC's move impacts Mizzou. The SEC also announced all spring sports around the conference would be suspended. 

— Kyle Palmer

11:25 p.m. — The Big 12 Conference canceled the men's and women's basketball tournaments in Kansas City Thursday morning, ahead of games at Sprint Center and Municipal Auditorium. 

Two men's basketball games were held at Sprint Center on Wednesday night. The women's tournament was scheduled to begin with two evening games at Municipal Auditorium on Thursday night.

“After consultation with our Board of Directors it was decided that cancelling these championships was in the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a written statement.

— Greg Echlin

11:08 a.m. — Kansas has three new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to four. All of them are in Johnson County. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said at a news conference Thursday that the new cases aren’t related to the first case, a woman under 50. The three new cases are all men, all of them went to the same conference in Florida. State officials didn’t say which conference or when the conference happened.

— Jim McLean, Kansas News Service 

10:50 a.m. — Independence Mayor Eileen Weir has declared a state of emergency “to prepare for potential risk to public health and safety,” according to a release from the city this morning. Weir plans to offer more details at a press conference at 1 p.m. today at Independence City Hall. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Independence, but the release said the move was undertaken “out of an abundance of caution to protect the well being of citizens, visitors and City employees.”

— Dan Margolies

10:29 a.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has declared a state of emergency. For the next 21 days, he wrote on Twitter, "all events with more than 1,000 attendees within the city are canceled or delayed until the emergency has been lifted. Mayor Lucas has also placed a moratorium on all non-essential travel for City employees until the emergency has been lifted."

"We're working diligently across departments to prevent potential spread — and we're asking our community members and business owners to do their part in helping to prevent potential spread," he wrote. "Protecting all of our residents remains our top priority, which means that how we interact over the weeks and months ahead will need to change dramatically as we confront our current public health challenge. I appreciate our community's understanding during this ever-changing time and encourage all residents to continue exercising good judgment."

— C.J. Janovy

10:15 a.m. — Rockhurst University in Kansas City has suspended in-person classes through at least March 28. A statement released by the school Thursday said courses will be conducted online beginning Monday, March 16. 

Students are also being encouraged to stay away from the private Jesuit school's campus along Troost Avenue. The university statement said on-campus student residences will remain open for "those who have limited housing and food options." 

— Kyle Palmer

9:05 a.m. — Kansas State University has followed KU and pushed back the end of spring break until March 23. K-State will move to online classes for at least a week after that.

K-State said in a news release Thursday morning that campuses will be open for "essential needs of students and faculty." Dorms will reopen on Sunday for students who can't stay at home. K-State president Richard Myers said the school will decide on when in-person classes will resume.

On Wednesday night, the state Board of Regents, based on guidance from the state,  suggested campuses hold off on in-person classes for a while. 

— Erica Hunzinger, Kansas News Service

7:40 a.m. — The frustrating reassessment of property in Jackson County is being complicated by coronavirus. On Wednesday, Jackson County announced the Board of Equalization will immediately start conducting appeals with hearing officers over the phone, rather than in person.

“The BOE’s decision is due to concerns of large gatherings related to COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus,” according to a statement from the board. The county hopes reassessment appeals will be finshed by the end of this month.  

— Sam Zeff

6:42 a.m. — Organizers of the Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade have canceled the event scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, "due to rising concerns over COVID-19." Organizers called it "a difficult decision."

"For 48 years, the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been a tradition for families, businesses, organizations and so many more," they said in a Facebook post. "But, with the rapid developments that have occurred over the last 24 hours including the announcement from the World Health Organization and the President’s address to the nation, we feel that the most responsible thing we can do is cancel the parade. We will spend the next 24 hours regrouping and discussing the plan for moving forward."

Organizers of the annual Snake Saturday Parade, scheduled for Saturday, March 14, also canceled the event. In a post on Facebook, organizers wrote: “It is with great regret, but with the utmost concern for public safety, that we take extra precaution and cancel the 36th Annual Snake Saturday Parade and Festival, including the Charity Cook-off.”

The 40th annual St. Patrick’s Warm Up Parade in Brookside scheduled for Saturday, March 14, has also been cancelled. "We know the announcement will be disappointing to many who enjoy the annual celebration and reunion in Brookside," organizers wrote on Facebook. "Although we won’t host the parade, our many Brookside businesses will remain open and we appreciate your continued support. We look forward to finding other ways to honor the Brookside St. Patrick’s tradition and finding other ways to celebrate together in the near future."

Meanwhile, Browne's Irish Marketplace, which hosts a large St. Patrick's Day gathering every year, announced it will be closed this St. Patrick's Day. Browne's said on its Facebook page the "difficult decision" was made in order to "protect our employees, our friends, our patrons." 

— C.J. Janovy, Laura Spencer

Wednesday, March 11

9:14 p.m. — The University of Kansas has announced it will be extending spring break for a week, and then moving to online classes for at least another week, beginning the week of March 23. Faculty and graduate students will be using the extra week to transition their course content for digital teaching methods.

"We anticipate needing to stay online for several weeks, however, our team will re-assess the need to continue remote-only instruction each week, starting March 28," according to a release from KU officials.

— Nomin Ujiyediin, Kansas News Service

5:49 p.m. — The Big 12 men's basketball tournament, which started tonight at Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, is allowing fans in only tonight.

Starting on Thursday access to games for both the mena's tournament and the women's tournament at Municipal Auditorium will be limited to players and their families. No fans will be allowed.

The move comes after the NCAA announced this afternoon that it would limit attendance at NCAA events to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

— Greg Echlin

4:45 p.m. — Kansas City University, the medical school located in the historic Northeast neighborhood, and the University of Missouri in Columbia, have suspended in-person classes until the end of March.

— Alex Smith

4:00 p.m. — Both Kansas and Missouri will receive a big boost to help in their efforts to combat the coronavirus.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that Missouri would receive $9,888,657 and Kansas would receive $5,940,546 to support their efforts. The funding comes from the $8.3 billion dollar emergency aid that President Trump approved  Friday.

The money will be used “to accelerate planning and operational readiness for COVID-19 preparedness and response, as well as develop tools and strategies, provide technical assistance and program support, as well as ensure ongoing communication and coordination among public health agencies and partners throughout the response,” according to a Department of Health and Human Services press release.

In recent weeks, many local health officials and experts across the country, including Kansas City health department director Rex Archer, has warned that the recent low levels of funding for public health departments had left them unable to handle more than a handful of COVID-19 cases.

The state health departments did not immediately respond on Wednesday to details about how the funding would be spent.

However, on at a press conference on Monday, Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that the state’s current coronavirus efforts were costing the state an additional $200,000 a month.

Kansas currently has only one person who has tested positive for the COVID-19, and more cases would likely require more resources from the state.

The funding provided to Kansas and Missouri is similar to state that have similar population sizes.

—Alex Smith

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