Missouri elections delayed; community spread worry in St. Louis

Mar 18, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Concerns about the coronavirus on Wednesday prompted Missouri’s governor to push back local elections for two months, forced the closure of one of the state’s most iconic landmarks, and led St. Louis’ mayor to warn about possible community spread after an infected person went to work.

Seventeen cases have now been confirmed in Missouri. One of the new cases involved someone who went to work in St. Louis even while exhibiting symptoms, Mayor Lyda Krewson said on Twitter.

“With this case, there’s reason to believe there is community exposure,” Krewson said. She urged anyone with cold- or flu-like symptoms to stay home and contact a medical professional.

Another of the new cases announced Tuesday was a Jackson County man in his 40s who recently traveled abroad. The man is doing well and is in isolation at home, while his family is in self-quarantine, county health officials said.

Children’s Mercy hospital announced in a tweet on Wednesday that a patient treated in the downtown Kansas City hospital’s emergency room on Sunday had tested positive for the virus and would be self-quarantined at home.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in St. Louis city and Boone, Cass, Cole, Greene, Henry, Jackson and St. Louis counties.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ordered all local elections scheduled for April 7 to be postponed until June 2. The executive order allows already printed ballots to be used for the rescheduled elections. Residents who turn 18 by April 7 will be allowed to vote.

The Gateway Arch, along with its museum, sprawling grounds and the historic Old Courthouse, were closed Wednesday until further notice, the National Park Service announced.

The U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri, based in St. Louis, suspended all jury trials through May and postponed all “non-essential in-person proceedings.” On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court suspended nearly all in-person proceedings in appellate and circuit courts through at least April 3.

The economic fallout from the virus scare is starting to take a toll on media. The Riverfront Times, an alternative newspaper in St. Louis, stopped printing its weekly publication and laid off most of its editorial staff on Wednesday.

Editor Doyle Murphy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the RFT will continue as a website run by himself and web editor Jaime Lees. He said it wasn’t clear when or if the print edition would resume.

The RFT has been hit especially hard because it focuses on bars and restaurants that are now closed and concerts and events that are canceled or postponed.

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Ballentine reported from Columbia, Missouri. Salter reported from St. Louis.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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