Kansas AG seeks to keep limits on governor’s COVID-19 powers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt is taking his fight to curb the power of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and local officials to impose COVID-19 restrictions in Kansas to the state’s highest court.

Schmidt announced Tuesday that he has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to keep in place a law that limits Kelly’s power and local officials’ authority even though a Johnson County trial-court judge struck it down last month. Schmidt is appealing District Judge David Hauber’s ruling and wants the decision put on hold in the meantime.

The Republican-controlled Legislature enacted the law earlier this year to prevent Kelly from closing businesses or schools, limiting public gatherings or imposing a statewide mask mandate. The law curbed the power of county health officers, leaving decisions about pandemic restrictions to elected county commissions. It allowed people to sue over restrictions and required court decisions within 10 days.

Hauber ruled that the law violated the state constitution by infringing upon the power of the courts and by denying state and local officials due legal process.

Schmidt has defended the law as valid and contends Hauber’s decision has created confusion about what power Kelly and local officials now have. Schmidt is running for governor next year.


Health experts remind residents to follow COVID-19 precautions

NEOSHO, Mo. – As COVID-19 cases remain high, its important to continue taking steps to protect yourself and others from the virus.

Newton County Health Director Larry Bergner says you should remain vigilant about washing your hands, social distancing and wearing masks when recommended. He also says cleaning surfaces regularly can help stop the spread.

“Certainly those disinfectants are effective,” said Bergner. “And so making sure that all of our services are clean, plenty of sanitizer, your hand sanitizer. So at the hand sink in those establishments, the food service establishments, and others restrooms.”

So far around 43 percent of people in Newton County have gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.


Missouri Gov. Parson to announce vaccine incentives

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike Parson is set to announce COVID-19 vaccine incentives.

Parson’s office says he’ll unveil perks for getting vaccinated at a Wednesday press conference in his Capitol office. Parson has said he’s hesitant to offer prizes or other rewards for doing something that he considers a personal responsibility. But he’s also said that he’s considering all options to increase vaccination rates in the state, which is dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated people.

The state health department reports that about 40% of Missouri is vaccinated.


Missouri vaccine outreach aims to be non-confrontational

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) – With the delta variant causing a surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in southwestern Missouri, health officials have taken to going door-to-door in an effort to encourage vaccinations.

(Previous story: Missouri governor says door-to-door vaccine push would not be effective)

The Kansas City Star recently followed along as health officials knocked on doors in Springfield, handing out brochures. The newspaper reports that the effort was non-confrontational and the officials always took “no” for an answer, despite concerns raised by Gov. Mike Parson and other Republican leaders that the outreach would be heavy-handed.

Southwestern Missouri has seen an alarming rise in illnesses caused by COVID-19 in recent weeks.



Parson urges vaccinations amid spiking COVID-19 cases

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says the state wants to increase the vaccination rate for COVID-19.

The state’s rate that lags behind the rest of the nation and Missouri is in the midst of a big spike in cases and hospitalizations. Missouri reported 854 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, one of the largest one-day totals since February. The state reported nine new deaths. The increase is driven largely by a big jump in cases in southwestern and northern Missouri Those areas have been hit hard by the fast-spreading delta variant.

Hospitalizations have risen sharply over the past month, mostly in southwestern Missouri. State data shows 334 people are hospitalized in southwestern Missouri, compared with just 86 in mid-May.


Oklahoma Guard troops to transition out of COVID-19 response

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Oklahoma National Guard troops who have been assisting the state’s response to COVID-19 will begin ending their assignment this week.

The State Health Department said in a statement Monday that the troops will begin transitioning out of the agency beginning Thursday. Over a 15-month deployment, Guard troops helped sanitize long-term-care facilities, distribute personal protective gear and transport testing specimens and supplies across the state.

Meanwhile, data from Johns Hopkins University shows Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average of daily deaths and daily new cases have both increased over the last two weeks, from 120.29 new cases per day June 12 to 196.43 new cases per day June 26.


Mercy changes visitor policy amid COVID spike

JOPLIN, Mo. – Mercy Hospital is limiting the number of visitors patients can have in response to increasing COVID-19 cases.

Mercy announced it will once again limit the number of visitors. Starting Monday (6/28) patients will be allowed only one visitor per day.

Mercy’s president, Jeremy Drinkwitz, said in a statement “The health and safety of our patients, co-workers and community are always our top priority, no question.”


Spike in cases prompts Freeman to reopen COVID Unit

JOPLIN, Mo. – Freeman Health System in Joplin announces it will reopen its medical COVID-19 unit due to a recent spike in cases.

The medical COVID unit was originally opened in July of 2020 and was closed in March of this year when cases had diminished in the area.

Physicians are also seeing more patients with gastrointestinal symptoms that include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The hospital will hold a press conference Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. to discuss increasing patient numbers, how patients are supported in fighting the virus and the changing demographics of those needing hospitalization.

Missouri has recently seen a surge in cases fueled by the Delta variant. One of the hotspots include the Ozarks. According to the Missouri Department of Health hospitalizations in Southwest Missouri rose 196% in the last month.

COVID hospitalizations are up in southwest Missouri and Freeman Hospital is re-opening it’s COVID unit after it closed back in March.

COVID cases continue to climb in the area with Missouri seeing a rapid rise in cases compared to other states. That also means, the number of COVID patients is increasing in the area leading to the reopening of recently closed COVID units at local hospitals, including Freeman. Freeman’s COVID Director, Dr. Rob McNab says there are some key reasons he thinks led to the state we’re in. “What we were doing kept it under control, not gone, not vanquished, but very under control, and when we removed all those safety protections, now we’re back up to 40 plus patients in-house, and we’re still not vaccinated enough to be able to take advantage of herd immunity.”

Dr. McNab says it’s still important to get vaccinated. “What we know right now about these new variants is that they’re still very susceptible to the vaccinations that we have, though it does look like you need to have both vaccines in that series completed to really get the benefit from it.”

Despite calls for people to get vaccinated, vaccination numbers are still low in the area, including Jasper County. Jasper County Health Department Administrator Tony Moehr says “Almost 35% have received one dose of vaccine, but it’s closer to 30% of the total eligible population that have been fully vaccinated so far.”

Moehr says the rise in cases locally is having an interesting side effect. “We have seen our numbers increase just over the past week or so as far as people that are requesting vaccine and so we’re hoping that some people that have kind of been on the fence or looking at this saying ‘wow, the cases are really starting to increase, maybe it’s time to start looking at getting this done’ and we hope more and more people will do that.”

Dr. McNab says he’s hopeful we can get through this climb in cases faster by getting more people vaccinated.


Joplin opens COVID vaccine clinics in multiple loactions

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin Health Department is setting up COVID-19 vaccine clinics at various locations across the community. The clinics will offer both first and second dose Moderna vaccines.

These clinics are open to all who are 18-years-old and over, regardless of city or state residency. No appointment is necessary. Citizens should bring a photo identification, and if they are seeking a second dose, they also need to bring their vaccination card. There is no cost associated with these vaccines.


Date                            Time                           Location                                 Type of Vaccine                     

Friday, June 4            9 AM – 1 PM            Senior Center                        Moderna vaccine   

                                                                        2616 S. Picher Avenue


Wed, June 9               9 – 11:30 AM             Joplin Health Dept.              Moderna vaccine             

                                    1:30 – 4 PM               321 East 4th Street


Sat, June 12               11 AM – 3 PM           Joplin Public Library           Moderna vaccine  

                                                                        1901 East 20th Street