Joplin’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continue improvement at slow decline

Joplin’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers continue their slow decline, with numbers improving at Joplin hospitals, comprising of Freeman, Mercy, and Landmark. As of Tuesday, March 16, there is a 13-hospitalization occupancy of COVID-19 patients in Joplin’s hospitals. This is two less than the occupancy number from last week on Wednesday, March 10. 

This number reflects the number of patients currently being treated with COVID-19 at the three previously mentioned hospitals. The 13-hospital occupancy includes residents outside Joplin city limits. As of March 16, there are two Joplin residents hospitalized due to COVID-19. This is the same number from Wednesday, March 10

Additionally, Freeman Health System has closed their medical COVID-19 unit after their last four COVID-19 patients were discharged Monday, March 15. They will take March 17 and 18 to deep clean, and afterward the space will then be used for regular usage. 

According to the Joplin COVID-19 Dashboard, last updated Tuesday, March 16 at 10 p.m., there have been a total of 5,914 cases of the Coronavirus in the city. Joplin has 31 active cases, a decrease of one from last week’s 32 cases. There are 5,756 inactive cases in the city and 127 deaths, which is three additional deaths since last week. There have been five new cases of COVID-19 in the last day, 33 cases in the last seven days, and 65 cases in the last 14 days. 

The dashboard’s graph shows the low number of cases in Joplin is staying consistent from over the past month, as compared to months previous to mid-February. Residents in the age group 20 to 29 continue to have the highest number of Coronavirus cases in Joplin, with 1,258 cases—six more cases than last week. Those in the age group 30 to 39 are second-highest, with 868 cases—two more than last week. And those under 20 are close behind, with 835 cases—two more than last week. 

This update comes just over two weeks after the expiration of Joplin’s mask mandate, as the mandate expired Sunday, February 28. The city is still in Phase 2—Step 4 of the Joplin Plan for Response and Recovery. Additionally, the 250 outdoor mass gathering restriction has been lifted, along with capacity and social distancing requirements in businesses and restaurants. 

Joplin is now in Phase 1B—Tier 3 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. This means those within this tier are now eligible for their vaccine. This includes those deemed “Critical Infrastructure,” such as individuals in education, childcare, the communications sector, government, and various other sectors

In regard to vaccine clinics, the city is continuing to offer clinics to its residents. Qualifying individuals may register for a clinic scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, held at Missouri Southern University through the city’s website

For more information regarding Missouri’s vaccination plan, visit their COVID-19 website, which also provides a map of current and future vaccinators within the state. 

City Council speaks out against House Bill 920

JOPLIN, Mo. — City Council is speaking out against a house bill that is making its way to the state senate.

Monday council unanimously agreed to send a letter to the Missouri State Senate opposing House Bill 920. The bill would get rid of April elections and push bonds or sales tax on the November ballot. Mayor Ryan Stanley says the bill would limit city business on a civic level and it could impact election cycles that happen in April.

Ryan Stanley, Mayor, said, “Basically just wanting to maintain the ability to be able to bring those issues to our citizenry and not be pushed into a large state election or pushed into a national election because sometimes you get caught up in the noise of that activity.”

He says the election for Joplin City Council members is in April and that would have to change if House Bill 920 is passed.

McDonald's to offer healthcare workers free drinks once again

FOUR STATE AREA — If you’re a health care worker and find yourself in need of an ice-cold beverage this week – a popular fast-food restaurant has you covered.

All week – all McDonald’s locations in the Four State region are providing free large soft drinks and-or iced teas through their drive-thrus. Again – the promotion is only for health care workers. All they have to do is show their medical identification.

Alex Maffei, McDonald’s Owner & Operator, said, “Our employees just love being able to give back, because everybody in the community has been impacted by Covid, so it’s just one small way we can show our appreciation.”

This is the third time area McDonald’s have provided the free drinks to health care workers.

Lamar church to expand

LAMAR, Mo. — An area church is working on a big expansion that’s decades in the making.

The First Christian Church is building a Family Life Center. As of now, it’s unclear when it will be completed, but Church Lead Minister Dru Ashwell says they’ll know soon.

Dru Ashwell – Lead Minister, said, “Next month, on Sunday, April 18th, we are going to take up an offering, a special offering, as well as receive commitments from our members and that will give us the green light to either finish the project right now, this year, or it may tell us over the next three years.”

This extension will allow the church to seat 500 people at round tables and up to 1,000 seated for large gatherings. Giving them more room to expand their congregation.

“This expansion will greatly expand our ability to not only meet the needs of our congregation, but also those in our community. We hope the community will be able to use the facility, but it will really give us a lot more room to be able to expand our ministry here.”

First Christian Church Sunday School Teacher Thomas Reed says not only does he look forward to the expansion, but it’s what they need.

Thomas Reed – Sunday School Teacher, said, “We’ve been going up to the school house and using their cafeteria. So, you gotta carry everything up there and what have ya. This will have a new kitchen, and a place we can set up tables and what have ya, it’ll have plenty of room in it.”

Reed adds although he doesn’t know when the expansion will be complete. He’s excited and knows it will benefit Lamar.

“As a collective group and with god on our side, we look forward to having it and it will put our image in the community in a better frame I guess you might say.”

Suicide Crisis — Learning to lose

JOPLIN, Mo. — Accepting defeat is a part of life, but it needs to be done properly to protect our mental health.

Del Camp, Chief Clinical Officer, Freeman Ozark Center, “Learning how to be good winners and learning how to be good losers. You have to be able to do both well.”

Winning and losing — it’s a part of life, right? But what effect does a loss have on our self esteem?

“Those who can’t find something that they’re good at, tend to struggle.”

Del camp at Freeman Health System’s Ozark Center explains the natural response to losing.

“Those who have less to lose tend to be much more impulsive and tend to change what they do significantly more when there’s not a lot to lose.”

When faced with adversity, he says our minds want to fix the issue.

“Oops, I lost. I’ve got to do something significantly different. Whereas, when you win, you want to stay basically doing the same. What most research tells us is the lose-shift is an overreaction.”

And that overreaction can affect our mental health.

“I think we were built to kind of enjoy competition. I think we were built to enjoy the experience of winning, which is why we want everyone to win in our society, right?”

But “everyone winning” just can’t happen – someone always has to lose. He recommends learning to be a gracious loser by responding in a calm way and understanding that a loss isn’t necessarily entirely your fault.

“A moderate response to both is really critical. So, recognizing there are a lot of pieces to fall into place for someone to win.”

And opposingly, a lot of pieces work together for a loss, too.

“If I lost, you have to look at all those other contributing factors and then make a reasoned decision as to what might need to change in order for you to perhaps be successful next time.”

He says understanding that life is a mix of both winning and losing is the key.

“It’s always good to have some humility, right? Whether you win or lose, there’s always something to be said. There’s always some nobility in being humble.”

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.

Carthage High School to host prom dress sale

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage High School is helping students find the perfect prom dress.

On Friday and Saturday they’re hosting a prom dress sale. They have more than 120 gently used dresses with various styles available. Dresses will run anywhere from $10 to $75 with some designer dresses costing $100 to $200. The school says this is a safe way for students to sell and buy dresses.

Kelsey Stenger, Carthage High School Teacher, said, “I know money it tight in a lot of home situations. A lot of our students work for their money so if they can save some money and have a beautiful prom dress its a win-win. “

If you would like to donate a dress it costs $10 and you can drop it off at Carthage High School office this week from 7:30 a.m. until three p.m.

Any donated dresses will help students who cannot afford a dress pick out one for free. Anyone can shop for a dress Friday night from five to eight and Saturday from 10 a.m. until two p.m. in the main high school gym.

Missouri AG leads multi-state lawsuit against Biden's authority

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s attorney general is challenging President Joe Biden’s power with the lawsuit that involves 12 states.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt is leading the lawsuit, claiming the president does not have the authority to issue federal regulations through an executive order he signed in January. Eleven other Republican attorneys general also jumped on the lawsuit.

Schmitt, who filed the lawsuit last Monday, said the order would impact the two largest industries in Missouri: manufacturing and agriculture.

“Not only is this bad policy because it’s going to affect jobs and our economy, but it’s also unconstitutional, it’s illegal,” Schmitt said Monday. “There’s no act of Congress that authorizes the president to go do this.”

The lawsuit claims Biden does not have the authority to federally regulate “social costs of greenhouse gases.”

“We have the President of the Unites States with the stroke of a pen now essentially saying we’re going to inflict billions and trillions of dollars’ worth of damage to the economy and nobody said he could go do that,” Schmitt said.

The attorney general said this executive order will impact household costs.

“The cost of food, the cost of eggs, the cost of milk, the cost of a steak, all of that is up for grabs here,” Schmitt said. “Whether it’s transportation, making highways more expensive, whether it’s the EPA affecting agriculture, so it’s really broad. It’s perhaps the broadest expansion of federal regulations we’ve ever seen.”

Other states joining the lawsuit include Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. All 12 states have Republican attorneys general.

“We are going to add additional regulations because of this social cost of greenhouse gases,” Schmitt said. “It’s a blank check for them to go out there and add additional regulations and cost to recoup that dollar amount from the economy.”

Schmitt said this cost will fall on Missourians and will hurt farmers.

“If your refrigerator goes out or you have to buy a new car or whatever it is, all of that is going to get more expensive,” Schmitt said. “Of those emissions you have in a farm, you can literally regulate farmers right out of business. It’s not just our farmers and our ranchers, St. Louis for example has a growing ag-tech industry that is dependent on how we really get those really important commodities and foot-to-market.”

Missouri’s AG said Biden has violated the law, by trying to use his authority for an executive order.

“There are no laws on the books anywhere that gives the president the authority to impact the economy in any way,” he said. “My hope is to push that back and the courts say, look, there is no authority here, Joe Biden, in your administration to do this.”

Inside the Missouri Capitol, Senate President Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) filed legislation this session which would give the General Assembly power to possibly block any executive order from the president. If it passed, the Missouri attorney general would have to review the general action before asking to be excused from the order.

Senate Bill 571 has not been heard in committee yet.

During Schmitt’s interview, our Missouri Chief Capitol Bureau Reporter Emily Manley asked him if he will run for retiring Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat in 2022. Blunt announced last week that he would not seek re-election.

“I’ve spent my time in public life fighting for lower taxes and less regulations and more opportunities for more Missourians and when you see right now in Washington D.C. all the levels of power tilted towards the left, Washington D.C. definitely needs more fighters but for me, right now, I am going to continue to talk to my family, friends, and supporters,” Schmitt said. “A lot of people have reached out and I’m humbled by that, but I’m definitely seriously considering the US Senate.”

Officer Chris Walsh died one year ago today; here's how the Springfield community is honoring him

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield Police Officer Christopher Walsh died March 16, 2020, after responding to a shooting at a Kum & Go on E. Chestnut Expressway.

To honor Officer Walsh, the Springfield Police Department will be holding a one-year remembrance ceremony at 2 p.m.

During the ceremony, a memorial monument with Walsh’s name engraved will be unveiled. Police Chief Paul Williams says Officer Walsh died a hero and that his courage should be an example to us all.

The Springfield Police Foundation will also be honoring Officer Walsh by offering “brother in blue” bracelets. The Foundation partnered with Onie and Sky, a Springfield-based small business, to make the bracelets. Funds raised will go towards helping the Springfield Police Foundation.

On March 16, 2020, Officer Walsh and Officer Josiah Overton were the first SPD officers to respond to the gas station for reports of a car crash. When the two arrived, they were met with gunshots coming from the store.

Police say the suspect, 31-year-old Joaquin Roman crashed into the Kum & Go, entered the store, shot four people inside, then shot the two responding officers. Also killed were Troy Rapp, Shannon Perkins, and Matthew Hicks. Springfield officer Josiah Overton was shot and injured, along with another victim. Roman killed himself at the scene.

Officer Walsh was 32 and is survived by his wife and daughter. Walsh, a Springfield native, began serving for SPD in 2016 and was an Army veteran and active in the army reserves for ten years.

Status of stimulus check: How to check on your payment

(NEXSTAR) — The “Get My Payment” tool on the IRS website is live and will show eligible recipients the status of their third stimulus payment.

If you use the IRS website, you should see the scheduled deposit date for your check. Example: “We scheduled your payment to be deposited on March 17, 2021 to the bank account below.”

A note on the website says, “If you don’t see your payment credited to your account, check with your bank to verify they received it. We will mail you a letter with additional information on this payment.”

Why are you seeing ‘Payment Status Not Available’?

The Get My Payment application will say “Payment Status Not Available” for the following reasons:

  • Your payment hasn’t been processed yet.
  • The IRS doesn’t have enough information to issue you a payment.
  • You aren’t eligible for a payment.

The IRS will be issuing the stimulus check payments through 2021. You should check back on Get My Payment for updates.

For answers to more frequently asked questions, click here.

When should I get my payment?

Officials at the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service said Friday that processing of the new round of stimulus payments has already begun. The first payments were expected to show up in bank accounts over the weekend.

President Joe Biden signed the new $1.9 trillion rescue package Thursday, the day after it won final passage in the House. The measure provides for payments to qualifying individuals of up to $1,400, with payments to a qualifying family of four of $5,600.

“The payments will be delivered automatically to taxpayers even as the IRS continues delivering regular tax refunds,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.

It is estimated that 85% of Americans will be eligible for the payments, and the goal is to have millions of the payments disbursed in the next few weeks.

Taxpayers who have provided bank information with the IRS will receive the direct-deposit payments, while others will get paper checks or debit cards mailed to them.

Officials said in the interest of speeding up the relief payments, the IRS will use the latest tax return available, either the 2019 return filed last year or the 2020 return that is due by April 15 to determine the amount someone might receive.

This same tool was previously used during the other stimulus check rollouts, and did reportedly encounter some problems, including being overwhelmed by the amount of users.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Bill that requires children to wear seatbelts passes Oklahoma Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that requires children to wear a seatbelt has passed the Oklahoma Senate.

The full Senate passed Senate Bill 339, which would require any child 17 and younger riding in the back seat of a vehicle to properly wear a seatbelt.

“Oklahoma is the only state in the entire country that doesn’t require seat belts for kids over the age of eight, and it’s no coincidence that vehicle fatalities are the number one cause of death for children over this age here in our state,” Sen. Roland Pederson said. “Requiring seat belts for all children is a commonsense measure that will save lives.”Oklahoma woman wanted for first degree murder after deadly home invasion in September 2020 

The Centers for Disease Control say motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury death for children between 5 and 19.

Oklahoma requires the driver, front seat passenger and child passengers under the age of eight to wear a seat belt, but has no requirements on the books for children ages eight to 17.

“I had the opportunity to meet with two young ladies from Drummond last year who both experienced the lifesaving difference of wearing a seatbelt,” Pederson. “Their passion for child safety on the roads and personal experiences inspired me to run this bill. Every Oklahoma child is important, and we must do all we can to ensure their safety. We know seat belts are effective, and it’s far past time for our children in the back seat to buckle up.”

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.