Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services | KCUR

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

A few minutes of your time and about $100 gets you certified for Missouri’s medical marijuana program. A clinic near St. Louis even offered a “Pot of Gold Legalization” discount for St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t want to leave your house? Try an online appointment, no medical records needed.

Missouri’s fledgling program, approved by voters in 2018, is under an intense amount of scrutiny — and not just by lawmakers. Physicians themselves are concerned about loopholes like telemedicine and a lack of oversight when it comes to certifying patients for pot. 

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In the past several weeks, as metro Kansas City began working to avoid being overwhelmed by Covid-19 like big cities elsewhere, rural places like Wright County in southern Missouri have been barely touched by the disease.

But Wright County family physician Dr. David Barbe, along with other health care providers who work in remote parts of the state, have been pleading with Gov. Mike Parson to force their patients and neighbors to shelter in place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This post will be updated periodically with information about the coronavirus in the Kansas City metro. For more information about the outbreak and how it is impacting life in the Kansas City area, read the FAQ.

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

KCUR is working around the clock to keep you as informed as possible about the latest COVID-19 news in the Kansas City metro. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

After initially lagging behind many other parts of the country, the COVID-19 case numbers in Kansas and Missouri are now rising rapidly each day.

While this undoubtedly means more people are getting sick, it’s unclear exactly what the infection trends are in both states. That's due to inconsistent testing and lack of complete numbers.

The two states' total cases, as reported on Friday:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As COVID-19 begins to spread in the Kansas City area, health care workers and hospitals say they are struggling with a lack of resources as they try to prepare for a potentially huge demand for care.

Citing concerns about shortage of both medical equipment and staff, the Missouri State Medical Association this week sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson urging him to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated, 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 19

The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus being diagnosed in Kansas and Missouri is going up, and one elderly man in Wyandotte County has died from the disease.

UPDATE Saturday, March 14:  One of the two "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19 announced by the governor Friday is in Clinton, Missouri. The Henry County Health Center has posted a statement to its website that includes the following:

A Springfield resident who recently returned from Europe is the second person in Missouri to test “presumptive positive” for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.

 

Associated Press

Seven people in Kansas and Missouri have tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday, with one of those — a man in his 70s living in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County — dead from the disease. 

The relatively low instances of infection in the region would indicate that so far, the two states seem hardly touched by the growing global pandemic.

File photo by Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on Thursday morning declared a 21-day state of emergency in the city to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We’re not trying to be alarmist, we’re not trying to concern folks. What we’re trying to say is how can we make sure that we don’t see a significant impact before we can handle it here in Kansas City,” Lucas said.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Lucas wrote that "all events with more than 1,000 attendees within the city are canceled or delayed until the emergency has been lifted."

Updated at 9 p.m., March 8 with comments from St. Louis County officials

The father and sister of a St. Louis County woman who recently tested positive for coronavirus violated a self-quarantine on Saturday evening.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page expressed frustration during a Sunday evening press conference, where he announced that the St. Louis County Public Health Department may institute a formal quarantine that would legally require the family to not leave the house.

“Quarantine means stay in your home,” he said.

Updated at 8 p.m. March 10 with confirmation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that a 20-year-old woman in St. Louis County has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease spread by the new coronavirus. 

Original story from March 8:

A 20-year-old St. Louis County woman who was studying in Italy is now presumed to be the state’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease spread by the new coronavirus.

Gov. Mike Parson and other officials announced late Saturday that the woman is in isolation at home with members of her family, who also have been in isolation.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page says the woman took care to keep others from contracting the virus once she started feeling sick. She called the county coronavirus hotline, and local health officials told her she met the criteria for testing.

Democrats in the Missouri House are fighting to undo a state requirement for abortion providers to perform pelvic exams prior to abortions.

Legislation filed late last month would prohibit health care providers from requiring such examinations unless they are medically necessary.

Coronavirus Tests Public Health Infrastructure In The Heartland

Feb 16, 2020
DigitalVision/Vectors / Getty Images

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Every weekday at noon since Jan. 27, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams gathers his outbreak response team for a meeting on coronavirus.

Associated Press

Kansas health officials are waiting for test results after a patient in Lawrence reported symptoms of the coronavirus.

Local health officials are now more closely monitoring the possible spread of the virus.

"Diseases are just an airplane ride away,"  said Nancy Tausz, health services division director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) said the test kit from Lawrence has been sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City metro area, and a couple of cities just outside of it, will soon have 45 medical marijuana dispensaries. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued dispensary licenses Thursday, marking a major milepost since voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that legalized medical marijuana. 

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Updated Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. with additional data— Missouri’s reporting system for adult abuse and neglect is undergoing significant changes after an investigation by the state’s attorney general. 

The investigation ended Monday, Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office told KCUR. It recommended seven changes, including a new online reporting system in order to address the thousands of unanswered calls to the state’s hotline, as well as redirecting callers who are simply looking for information about local resources — not calling to report abuse. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced the launch of the state’s new youth vaping education campaign to bring attention to the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping products. 

Parson signed an executive order in October giving the departments of Health and Senior Services, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Safety one month to get the program running without any additional funding. 

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

Calling vaping-related illnesses among Missouri’s youth an epidemic, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday signed an executive order mandating education to discourage usage. 

Thousands have been sickened across the country due to vaping-related illnesses. In Missouri, there have been 22 reported illnesses and one death as of Oct. 4. The majority of those cases involve people between the ages of 15 and 24. 

Missouri health officials have confirmed two cases in the state of a mysterious vaping-related pulmonary illness that has sickened hundreds of people across the nation. 

Missouri officials are investigating the cases of seven other patients to determine if their symptoms match the criteria for the illness. They’re also warning consumers not to tamper with vaping products.

Patients with the illness report nausea, shortness of breath, fever and elevated heart rates. The nine Missouri patients have reported modifying pre-packaged vaping products to smoke other substances such as vitamin E or THC, said Randall Williams, director of the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Angela Boykin watched her cousin die from cancer in 2016. Loretta — or Lo, as everyone called her — suffered through significant pain. So when Missouri voters passed the medical marijuana law in November, she wanted in on opening a dispensary in Kansas City. 

Missouri starts officially accepting applications for medical marijuana businesses Saturday, and it’s a potentially lucrative business: A cannabis data research company estimates that by 2025, Missouri could see $111 million in medical marijuana sales yearly. 

But Boykin and other applicants are black, and even though Missouri by law can’t factor in race or gender when awarding licenses, the national trend is that pot business owners and founders are overwhelmingly white. 

Updated at 3:30 p.m. July 1 with "St. Louis on the Air" audio; updated at 6:25 p.m. June 28 with details from Planned Parenthood event — Access to abortion in Missouri will continue as a state commission prepares to consider a licensing dispute over a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in St. Louis.

On Friday, a state administrative hearing commissioner extended the organization’s license until the Administrative Hearing Commission decides how to resolve Planned Parenthood’s complaint against the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The commission set a hearing for Aug. 1.

Abortion rights advocates are concerned the legal dispute over the last existing abortion clinic in Missouri may have already hindered access to abortion.

The license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region has been in jeopardy for months as state officials delayed action on its application. To compel the state to act, Planned Parenthood took state officials to court.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer has kept the license in effect while the arguments play out in court. But abortion rights advocates say the legal process as well as Missouri’s increasingly stringent abortion regulations could discourage doctors from providing the procedure in the future.

Lawyers for Missouri’s only abortion provider told a St. Louis Circuit Court judge on Wednesday that it has been unable to renew the clinic’s annual license because state health officials have not followed proper procedures.

Planned Parenthood has asked Judge Michael Stelzer to issue a temporary injunction barring the state Department of Health and Senior Services from delaying or denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

Jamie Boyer, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, told the judge during a hearing that the department’s efforts to interview independent physicians who work at the clinic have been an obstacle.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood will ask a St. Louis Circuit Court judge to block Missouri health officials from using an investigation into a patient’s complaint to close the state’s only licensed abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood went to court Wednesday to prevent the state Department of Health and Senior Services from denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. But Judge Michael Stelzer rescheduled the hearing for Thursday, a day before the clinic’s license expires.

In their request for a restraining order, the organization’s lawyers also asked Stelzer to bar state health officials from interviewing seven doctors at the St. Louis clinic.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media file photo

When Missouri’s medical marijuana program is fully underway, there may be more of the drug produced than consumed. That’s according to researchers at the University of Missouri, who provided the state with an economic analysis of the program Monday.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

As Missouri moves toward implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program, state officials on Wednesday warned potential patients to hold off on paying for a physician certification until June.

Missouri’s health department has already fielded more than 400 pre-applications from potential marijuana growers and sellers.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which will administer the state’s medical marijuana program, won’t begin accepting formal applications for dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing plants until summer.

That hasn’t stopped potential businesses from paying more than $3 million in application fees to the state.

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