Jobless claims soar; spread continues in Kansas and Missouri
The novel coronavirus continued to spread in Kansas and Missouri on Friday as both states identified multiple new presumed positive cases and Jackson County announced its first fatality from the virus.
Missouri identified nearly 20 cases overnight, bringing the state’s total to 47 as of Friday afternoon. Kansas had at least 50 cases, including eight more in Johnson County and two more in Leavenworth County.
Friday afternoon, Jackson County officials announced that a woman in her 80s with no travel history had died from the virus.
“We have reason to believe that COVID-19 is now being spread by community transmission, therefore it is vital that everyone takes personal precautionary measures to protect not only themselves but the entire community,” county health director Bridgette Shaffer said.
The woman is the second person in the state of Missouri to die from the virus. The first, a Boone County man in his 60s who had recently traveled overseas, was reported Wednesday.
Drive through testing clinics are beginning to pop up in the KC area. In Wyandotte County, those with a prescription can be tested for COVID-19 at the Sharon Lee Family Health Care clinic in Kansas City, Kansas.
Similar clinics have been set up for Saint Luke’s patients in Blue Springs, the Northland and Overland Park.
Meanwhile, state leaders are taking steps to curb the sudden economic downturn being felt across local industries and throughout communities
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said during a news conference Friday that the pandemic has caused “daunting challenges.”
Last week the state received 1,296 unemployment claims. That number sharply increased to 11,355 this week, according to the Kansas Department of Labor.
Kelly’s administration has formed a new assistance program called the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency Fund, which will provide support to businesses facing disruption.
Businesses in Kansas “suffering substantial economic injury due to COVID-19” may also be eligible for disaster assistance loans from the federal government’s Small Business Administration, Kelly said.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is
LAST WEEK THE STATE RECEIVED 1,296 UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS. THAT NUMBER SHARPLY INCREASED TO 11,355 THIS WEEK, ACCORDING TO THE KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.
also seeking support through the Small Business Administration. His office has taken steps to loosen regulations for telemedicine and commercial drivers transporting essential goods.
Many Kansas City business owners are fearful of the pandemic’s impact.
The Northland’s Trago Bar & Tapas had record numbers and big crowds last weekend, just before the world was turned upside down for the restaurant industry because of coronavirus bans.
“What’s this new normal? Because yesterday looked completely different than the day before,” owner Kandi Kerns said. “You don’t want to lose good employees, but I don’t know if I will have a restaurant next month. You’re at a standstill.”
In downtown Kansas City, the Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel at 1515 Wyandotte Street was supposed to open its doors April 2. But the company said Friday that it was delaying the opening for the well-being of its staff and guests. A new date has not been set.
Other businesses have adapted their resources.
Kansas City distillery J. Rieger & Co. began producing hand sanitizer.
Hundreds of people flocked to the distillery Thursday, prompting traffic control from Kansas City police.
“It was a little overwhelming,” said Ryan Maybee, the distillery’s vice president of sales and hospitality. “There was a lot of demand for it.”
Grocery stores have also been overwhelmed.
Certain brands of food and other products may be limited for the time being and demand for cleaning supplies will remain high for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, said David Smith, president and chief executive of Kansas City, Kansasbased Associated Wholesale Grocers.
But, Smith said, consumers shouldn’t excessively stock up on products.
Large grocery stores including Price Chopper and Hy-Vee are operating with reduced business hours.
They and other retailers including Whole Foods, Target and Dollar General, have also set aside certain shopping times for seniors, pregnant women and others at high risk for illness.
The death toll from the virus surpassed 10,000 people worldwide, the Associated Press reported Friday.
A drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 was open Friday at the Sharon Lee Family Health Clinic in Kansas City, Kan., where a medical assistant takes a driver's temperature before the test. At this site, patients must be referred by their doctors before they can qualify for the test.