“COVID-somnia”: What it is, and how you could get more sleep if it’s impacting you

JOPLIN, Mo. – Sleep is something that everyone needs. But it’s something a lot of us are doing less during the pandemic.

“As a physician and as a human in this pandemic, it has impacted my sleep,” says Charles Graves, a psychiatrist at Access Family Care.

“Generally speaking, 15 to 30 percent of the population will have trouble sleeping,” explains Steve Graves, a councilor with the Ozark Center.

But according to the National Institutes of Health, that number has increased to 40 percent during the pandemic. The term has been dubbed “COVID-somnia” because the stresses and changes caused by the pandemic can cause many to have insomnia.

“Stress and sleep do not mix. Most of our stressors in our world are short term. Unfortunately, the pandemic has been a long term stress,” says Graves.

Graves explains that insomnia can impact both physical and mental function, with it impacting concentration, problem solving and rational thinking.

“Obviously that impacts our school age children in school, but also our adults who have to look after those children,” says Graves.

“The misery factor goes up any time you can’t sleep,” says Charles Doyle, a psychologist at College Skyline in Joplin.

Doyle explains the misery of insomnia can be especially problematic for people who already battle mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

“The worry about going to sleep actually increases,” says Doyle. “It becomes a serious thing for them to deal with. And it decreases their daily function, increases their symptoms overall.”

So what can you do to get more and better sleep? Here are some tips that both Doyle and Graves recommend:

  • Create a sleeping schedule and preparation routine.
  • Take a break from social media and the news.
  • Turn off screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
  • Get sunlight and do light exercise early in the day to reset your sense of time and circadian rhythm. Also close the blinds when the evening rolls around.
  • Avoid caffeine before bed.
  • Be kind to your mind and don’t worry about the things that you cannot change in the moment.

“Also, people with anxiety and depression should already be getting therapy… helping them work through the things that they’re worrying about. That will keep it from invading your mind when you’re trying to go to sleep,” says Doyle. “And even when they’re receiving treatment, I often times encourage them to schedule a ‘worry time.’ Schedule a time to think about those things that are distressing so that they’re out of the way when it comes time to rest.”

If none of that helps, then it may be time to seek out professional help.

“If it goes for a week or more when people are having difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep, it’s appropriate to speak to your physician in that period of time,” says Graves.

“When you’re sleep is off, it’s often a red flag that says something else is off. That it needs to be attended to as well,” explains Doyle.

If you do have a mental illness and have experienced sleeplessness for so long that it sends you into a crisis, the Ozark Center has a 24 hour crisis intervention hotline. That number is 417-347-7720.


Local emergency response crews aid Louisiana hurricane response

CARTHAGE, Mo. – Emergency response crews from all over the country are headed to Louisiana and Mississippi to aid recovery efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Ida. According to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, around 25 thousand linemen from 22 different states are working to restore power to more than a million residents in areas impacted by the storm. That includes crews from the four-state area.

“All we had to do was tell them that we had received a request, and we immediately had volunteers,” says Cassandra Ludwig with Carthage Water and Electric.

A four-man crew from Carthage Water and Electric left Saturday to make the more than 500-mile journey to Alexandria, Louisiana. On Monday, CWEP Linemen, Jeff Moore, Chris Perry, Chance Adams & Justin Ralston were diverted to Natchez, Mississippi to help restoration efforts there. 

“They have about 50 percent, just under, of their customers are without power right now. So there’s quite a bit of work to be done,” says Ludwig.

Lineworker crews from Higginsville, Independence, Lebanon, Nixa, Palmyra, and Poplar Bluff, Missouri are also in Mississippi.

20 Lineman, vegetation management personnel and police from Grand River Dam Authority, as well as personnel from other departments in Oklahoma, also left for Louisiana on Saturday.

“So far things seem to be going well,” says Justin Alberty with Grand River Dam Authority. “Our guys are well trained and have been in this sort of incident before. So, they know what to expect.”

The response by the crews in Missouri and Oklahoma are lending a hand as part of a nationwide American Public Power mutual aid effort.

“It not us telling them they need to go. It’s them saying, ‘We are ready to help. Send us down there. Let us go,’” says Ludwig.

They talk about an Oklahoma standard. And I think these guys uphold that pretty well when they go into a situation like this to help however they need to. So our objective is just to help our neighbors and to do it as quickly and safely as possible.”

According to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, more than 150 Oklahoma responders are in Louisiana to help with recovery. Those agencies are:

  • Creek Nation Emergency Management
  • Mayes County Emergency Management
  • Grand River Dam Authority
  • Quapaw Tribe Emergency Management
  • Craig County Emergency Management
  • Washington County Emergency Management
  • Pittsburg County Emergency Management
  • Coal County Emergency Management
  • Bryan County Emergency Management
  • Wagoner County Emergency Management
  • Broken Arrow Fire
  • Bethany Fire
  • Edmond Fire
  • Oklahoma City Fire
  • Norman Fire
  • Owasso Fire
  • Sand Springs Fire
  • Tulsa Fire
  • Verdigris Fire
  • Oklahoma City Police
  • Tulsa Police
  • Oklahoma Highway Patrol
  • Oklahoma State Department of Health

How you can help

The American Red Cross currently has more than 350 trained volunteers responding in states impacted by Hurricane Ida. They say people in unaffected parts of the country can help by donating monetarily, by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word IDA to 90999. They also encourage residents to make blood donation appointments “to ensure a sufficient blood supply remains available for patients.”


We take you to the Neosho River Knap-in in Chetopa

CHETOPA, Kan. – The City Park in Chetopa, Kansas was the site for the second Neosho River Knap-In. We’ll tell you what knapping is and introduce you to a man who’s made it a life-long hobby.

Along the Neosho River in Chetopa is the City Park and on Friday and Saturday it played host to the Neosho River Knap-In. Knapping, is shaping a piece of stone by hitting it and making stone tools or weapons, or even for building walls. Here, it was all about making arrowheads for a number of uses. The organizer, Aaron Ellison, says he got started in knapping right here in Chetopa. “When I got introduced to knapping, the first place I made my first arrowhead was right here and then they told me about what’s called a ‘knap-in’ where people around the area get together, camp together, break rock together, trade stories, arrowheads, all sorts of stuff, and I thought, you know what, I want to go to a knap-in, but they’re all so far away, okay, I’m going to make one here.”

Vyrl Keeter is from Muskogee and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. His interest in knapping began many years ago. “I began to see arrow points and artifacts and wondered how they were made.”

As he researched, he learned more about his tribe’s history, and some of it’s lost history. “The Cherokees did not come to Oklahoma with the astute knowledge of making the artifacts that previously had been made, they had pretty much lost the art.”

He took his interest and made it into a life long project. “I try to perpetuate this art and the customs and the ideals of the Cherokee people and relate that back to previous times.”

On Saturday, he shaped an arrowhead just for us, giving a full demonstration from start to finish on how arrowheads were made back in the old days. Keeter travels the nation sharing this knowledge and of course, shares it with the Cherokee down in his own backyard.


Local schools react to letter asking for universal masking

JOPLIN, Mo. – Area physicians say local school districts aren’t doing enough to protect children from COVID-19 when classes begin. They’re urging universal masking. A letter imploring schools take up universal masking in the coming school year was sent to the Joplin, Webb City, Neosho, Carthage, Carl Junction, Seneca, East Newton, McDonald County, and Galena, Kansas. We reached out to the districts the letter went to to get their thoughts.

You can read the full letter here, which includes the list of doctors.

Missouri School Plans vs. Universal Masking


In Neosho, masks are voluntary for students and staff, at least at the beginning of the school year. Superintendent Jim Cummins explains when making the policy they communicated with the Newton County Health Department, as well as with members of the community.

“In just trying to get a feel for where our team members were at and where the community was at, they felt they should be an option. Not mandated. So, we navigate that and at the same time, we tried to figure out ways that we can do our part to keep them as safe as possible,” says Cummins.

He explains the district will be monitoring the situation and making adjustments to the policy as the year goes on. At this time, they’re moving forward with their current policy.

“We did not make any hard and fast… ‘This is what we’re gonna do for the whole semester, this is what we’re gonna do for the year.’ It’s also the reason why we have some automatic shutdown or changes in place,” says Cummins. “So if we see a significant outbreak, our first level… our second level to go to is level yellow, and that would be the mask mandate.”

Neosho Back to School plan.


Joplin is also making mask-wearing voluntary. School board member Jeff Koch says he sees no reason currently to take up the topic again during a meeting.

“Masking is just one piece of the prevention strategy. Sometimes the straw argument is that if you aren’t masking, you’re not doing anything. But we are doing a lot,” says Koch.

Joplin Back to School plan.


Carthage Schools Superintendent Mark Baker explains they are also moving forward with their current return to school plan. But they also plan to evaluate the procedures as the year goes on, and adjust as needed to keep students, staff, and the community safe.

“We greatly appreciate the information provided by the doctors. The information mirrored the information provided by Carthage Mercy representatives during our board meeting last week,” says Baker. “We will constantly review COVID information and data regarding our students, staff, and community.”

Carthage Back to School plan.

Webb City on Universal Masking

The Webb City school district is recommending and encouraging masking, saying they have always agreed with the guidelines set forth by the CDC, and others. They will continue to move forward with their current plan.

“The Webb City School District has always agreed with the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, our local health department and physicians. As we highlight in our Cardinal Comeback plan, we highly recommend students and faculty wear a mask for the protection of themselves as well as others. Be that as it may, after reviewing feedback from our parent and staff surveys, the large majority of parents as well as faculty and staff prefer to have the choice of masking.

Our Cardinal Comeback Plan has been out in the public for weeks. Webb City School District is always willing to work with our public health officials and this letter reaching the media before having the opportunity to openly communicate with these specific doctors makes the discussion more challenging. During these unprecedented times when it is more important than ever to work together, this topic continues to be a divisive one that only further divides  communities. Webb City School District has great empathy for our medical health professionals and are always willing to have a conversation with them regarding the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”

Webb City Back to School plan.

East Newton

The East Newton School district says their current back-to-school plan makes face masks voluntary. But, the school board is set to meet Thursday night to vote on the plan, and Superintendent Ron Mitchell says the letter will be discussed at the district.

Carl Junction

Not unlike many other districts in the 4-states, Carl Junction is starting school with policies that make masking voluntary. Superintendent Phil Cook declined an on-camera interview on Wednesday, saying that he “doesn’t appreciate the way that this was handled.”

District Public Relations Director Tracie Skaggs says she received the letter at around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night, and that she saw it that evening by chance. She goes on to say the district wants everyone to wear masks and be “responsible bulldogs.”

Carl Junction Back to School plan.

Kansas School Mentioned in Universal Masking Letter

In the Galena School District, masking is voluntary as well. However, Superintendent Trey Moeller says Wednesday was the fifth day of school, and they have not had any evidence of Covid spreading in the schools at this point. He also explains he didn’t receive the letter until 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

“We appreciate their concern and take the info under advisement like we do all information that we try to weigh when making decisions on school and mitigating the spread. As a school in Cherokee County, we are regularly and often are in contact with the health department and having conversations about ways to mitigate the spread of Covid. They are paying attention to all the different possibilities, collaborating with the health department, and trying to make the decision the best they can,” says Moeller.

Galena Back to School plan.

Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School on Masking

Officials with Thomas Jefferson explain they do have a mandatory masking policy.

“We do require all students and staff to wear masks (regardless of vaccination status) when arriving, departing, and transitioning between classrooms. The only time masks are optional is when students are settled in their classroom where there is appropriate spacing,” explains Media Relations Manager Robert Carlson.

Other Schools

Related stories:

Physicians implore area schools to require universal masking

Doctors discuss letter imploring local schools to implement universal masking


Regional law enforcement training center coming to Parsons

Parsons, Kan. – Parsons is picked to be the home of a new regional law enforcement training center. It will be run by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC), and serve agencies in 16 counties.

Parsons Police Chief Robert Spinks says having a training center in Parsons will give the agencies the ability to send officers, dispatchers, and others to classes when they otherwise might not be able to.

“I’m ecstatic that we will have that in our community and so close so that we can continue to increase the competency of our staff. And we can reduce the amount of outside city travel or missed training,” says Spinks. “It will originally only have a half-time coordinator who will then bring in speakers from across the state for different topics. But, over time, we hope to see that grow to three full-time staff and eventually be able to produce up to three thousand man-days of training every single year.”

Spinks explains they’re currently looking for a good office space for the center, and says they’d like for the center to be up and running by the end of the year.

Community benefits

Spinks explains that the center will be good for the area in several ways. Not only will officers get more training, but he also hopes it will bring revenue to local restaurants and hotels and make the community safer.

“We’re bringing, you know, 20, 30, 40 people a day into these training classes as the center ramps up. You know, that’s a lot more police vehicles that are inside the city,” says Spinks. “And I’m sure that some of our nefarious, felonious individuals might also take notice that there’s a whole lot more law enforcement in Parsons.”

Vision for the future

The training center coming to Parsons is one piece to a much larger puzzle that emergency services are working to put together. Spinks is working with other leaders in the community to build a new public safety training center, which would put law enforcement, fire and emergency services together in one start of the art facility.

“We own the land, about three and a half acres just a few blocks away from where we are right now. We’ve secured an architectural firm. They actually are going to be doing a kick off with city staff, and are meeting with our fire department and police employees. They’re also going to do some site reviews of the existing facilities, and then they will also be reaching out to some of our potential partners, which will include Labette Community College and Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center,” explains Spink.

Officials hope to use federal grant funding and fundraising dollars to build the center. While the process is still in the beginning stages, Spinks is hopefully they could break ground as soon as 2023.


What to know as FDA approves third Covid vaccine doses for certain Americans

NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved third doses of COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised Americans. 

“An additional dose could help increase protection for these individuals, which is especially important as the Delta variant spreads,” says Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC.

Roughly seven million Americans, around 3 percent of U.S. adults, will be able to get a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. They are approved only for those who have weakened immune systems. The FDA specifically mentions people who had solid organ transplants, but Newton County Health Department Director Larry Bergner can think of a few other conditions that should apply.

“Probably cancer, HIV, other diseases that leave people immunocompromised,” says Bergner.

According to the CDC, 40 to 44 percent of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 after being vaccinated have weakened immune systems. The FDA says they will be able to get a third dose 28 days after they get a second dose. The agency recommends the third dose be from the same manufacturer as the second — but it’s not mandated. The agency did not mention additional doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“We’ve had questions from people who are at a level of immunocompromise asking about that third dose, and until now we’ve had to turn them away,” says Bergner.

Bergner expects additional guidance to come out next week that will go over the full requirements and full list of qualifying conditions. He says after that happens, getting the third dose should be pretty straightforward.

“What I envision is that if someone calls asking about that third dose, we’ll have them talk to their primary care physician, just to make sure that their physician is in agreement that they do meet that criteria,” explains Bergner. “And then we’ll be glad to give them that booster dose.”

But what about the rest of the population? U.S. health officials continue to say booster doses aren’t recommended for the majority of the population yet. The World Health Organization has also asked for a moratorium on booster doses, at least until the rest of the world can achieve a 10 percent vaccination rate. However, the CDC says roughly a million Americans have already received a third dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. It’s unclear if those people had compromised immune systems.

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Missouri creates school choice program for low income students, students with disabilities

JOPLIN, Mo. – Students at College Heights Christian School prepare for the next several months, going through syllabi for their classes on the first day of school.

“Everything’s going very well,” says Dan Decker, Superintendent of College Heights Christian School. “This year we were blessed. We increased our enrollment by almost 60 students.”

The number of students at College Heights this time next year could be even higher because of a new school choice program in Missouri.

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program was created by the state last month and aims at giving students with disabilities and students from low-income households scholarships for private school.

The program will give private donors 100% tax credits when they donate to one of ten funds created in the state. Once the program starts in 2022, scholarship funds will go to students so they can attend private schools or any other type of school outside of the public school system. Students will receive up to $6300 that can be used for tuition, transportation, or any other fee associated with schooling. Yearly fees at College Heights are between three and eight thousand dollars, depending on the grade level.

“Even though we work really hard to keep tuition low, it’s still out of the reach of some families,” explains Decker. “It gives families that might not have that option the option.”

The bill was carried through the senate by Senator Andrew Koenig, R- St. Louis. He says the intent is to give parents more control over their kid’s education.

“The traditional public school’s probably best for most kids. But it doesn’t mean it’s the best option for all kids. And so we need to provide parents with other options,” says Koenig.

But some are pushing against the new program, saying it diverts taxpayer dollars away from the state’s already underfunded public education system.

“We need to be investing more money in public education right now in the state of Missouri, rather than reducing the resources available,” says Missouri School Board’s Association Deputy Executive Director Brent Ghan. “Right now we rank 49th in the nation in starting teacher salaries in Missouri. And instead of investing more money into a need like that, we passed a voucher bill that actually dilutes the resources available to public schools.”

The program will only be available to students already enrolled in public education, and students from cities with 30 thousand or more residents, like Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Joplin. The legislation also states that any student who shifts away from public education will continue to be counted in their home districts for five years after the program starts, delaying the potential financial hit to public institutions.

“The reality is it should be money going to educate a child,” says Koenig. “If you take any other government program that we have, for instance like food stamps, we don’t go to a government grocery store. Why should we do something different in education?”

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Carthage hosts 4State Record Show, bringing vinyl lovers to collectors

CARTHAGE, Mo. – The City of Carthage played host to the Four-State Record Show. It’s a twice-a-year event, connecting vinyl lovers with collectors. Over the past several years, there’s been an increase in interest in vinyl, so we went to the record show to check it out.

Twice a year, in February and July, the Carthage Memorial Hall opens its doors to vinyl lovers across the region and to dealers looking to make a sale and a connection. Co-host Lynn Brennfoerder says “About 25 dealers here and 47 tables all full of collectibles, vinyl, CDs, cassettes, anything music related.”

Lynn Brennfoerder is one of the co-hosts of the show. They started the record show three years ago and he says its growing only because of the community. “There is so much support from the vinyl community in this area and all these dealers are generally saying they’re doing better here than they do at home, shows at home, so everybody’s thrilled to come out.”

Tom Dutton came up from Tulsa to offer his collection. What’s surprising to him at the show, is the ages of people coming out. “It’s good to see the younger people coming out to buy the vinyl, and buying old vinyl too, original pressings are probably the highest point of selling here.”

Dutton is no stranger to vinyl. “I’ve been collecting since I was 7, I’m 65 now, buying records all my life, I never stopped, even when it waned in the 90s, I still bought them.”

Despite that pause, in the last few years, vinyl and record players have become a trend again. “It’s very good to see that that medium is being recognized, because it is a superior sound over CDs or any other option.”

For Dutton, it’s all about what we mentioned earlier, connecting to fellow vinyl lovers. “I think that’s the fun I get is to talk to people about them, they’ll ask me questions about certain bands, I’ll point them to the right direction of which bands are really good, which albums are the best, and I get repeat customers that way, steer them in the right direction, they come right back.”

Organizers say they’re already looking forward to next year’s show which will be in February.


Four-states health officials react to CDC’s new mask guidance

BARTON COUNTY/NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – It’s time to pick your old face mask up again.

That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone should do indoors in parts of the country that are experiencing surges in covid-19 cases. That especially includes the four-state area, where the more contagious delta variant is rapidly spreading and causing high rates of hospitalization.

“If you are vaccinated and you are one of those rare breakthrough infections… you actually have the capacity to pass it to somebody else,” says CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

As of Wednesday, July 28th, it is now a requirement to wear a mask at the Barton County Health Department as well.

“It’s for the safety of our own staff and the people coming in here,” says Barton County Health Department Director Joel Dermott.

While the change was made the day after the CDC’s new guidance came out, Dermott says their policy wasn’t changed just because of the CDC’s recommendations. It has more to do with a startling trend they’ve started to see.

“We had been seeing some cases through contact tracing where we had breakthrough cases where people are fully vaccinated, and in doing that we were beginning to see some indicators that they were perhaps transmitting the virus themselves,” says Dermott.

Following the CDC’s new guidance, a rush of mask mandates swept through the country — with Kansas City and the entire state of Nevada reinstating their indoor mask mandates. KOAM asked Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley if a new mask mandate may be in the works, and he says that a mask mandate is not something the city is currently looking at.

Also in Joplin, both Freeman Health System and Mercy Hospital have been requiring masks for staff and patients for several weeks. Steve Douglass at Access Family Care says they have been requiring masks in all of their locations since new guidance came out from OSHA three weeks ago. Tony Moehr at the Jasper County Health Department says they ask everyone to wear masks while inside the department, and the McDonald County Health Department has had a mask policy in place since March. No requirement exists at the Newton County Health Department.

“We are currently optional on masks,” says Administrator Larry Bergner.

Bergner explains that all of the staff at the health department are vaccinated, and they still maintain other safety protocols. So even considering the fact that the department has found 40 breakthrough cases in the county, at this point, Bergner isn’t concerned about virus spread at the health department itself.

“We normally don’t see a large client load at one time. We don’t have a packed building. Certainly, if we start to see folks come in and we have a large number of clients at one time and it’s consistently that way, we might reevaluate,” says Bergner. “We certainly don’t want those who are vaccinated to get the virus and become a carrier and give it to someone else. So I understand CDC’s stance. But I think that can also be a negative message for those who are on the fence. If you’re saying to get vaccinated, but then still wear a mask, what does that say about the vaccines?”

Pushing people who are vaccine-hesitant away from getting vaccinated is something that both Dermott and Moehr are concerned about as well.

“Is this gonna discourage somebody because they are gonna have to continue wearing a mask? I don’t know,” says Dermott. “We’ll have to see how that plays out and it will be very interesting to see in the upcoming days how this is absorbed by the general public.”

“My message is get vaccinated to prevent illness, hospitalization, and death,” says Bergner. “The thing that I want to stress is those folks who have been vaccinated and then gotten the virus, not one of them had to be hospitalized.”

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Nevada, MO men make 51 day trip to Mt. Rushmore via horseback

NEVADA, Mo. – Two men take a 51-day trip traveling from Missouri to Mount Rushmore on horseback.

Cris Rodriguez and Forrest Drury left Nevada, Missouri on June 1 and arrived at Mount Rushmore Wednesday July 21 with family and friends waiting. Rodriguez and Drury had help from day one, when a family they met offered them a place to stay after a camping site didn’t work out. Tt continued from there, with each family knowing someone in the next town.

“Everywhere we went, people took care of us,” said Drury.

Rodriguez says, after 51 days of riding horseback, the ground feels good.