Job­less claims soar; spread con­tin­ues in Kansas and Mis­souri

The Kansas City Star - - Front Page - BY KATIE MOORE AND KATIE BERNARD [email protected]­ [email protected]­

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


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.

TAMMY LJUNGBLAD tljung­[email protected]­

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.

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