As a new coronavirus hotspot continued to emerge in Saline County and Missouri urban areas worked to contain the contagion’s spread, community organizers have rallied to support those struggling during the pandemic.
In Columbia, a telethon organized in a whirlwind eight days raised over $30,000 for the Community Foundation of Central Missouri COVID-19 Regional Relief fund.
The telethon, hosted on Facebook and YouTube by organizer Sean Spence and sponsored in part by the Columbia Daily Tribune, found support from various Columbia businesses and media outlets.
“I was so happy to see the community come together and rally around this very important and successful effort,” John Baker, executive director of the Community Foundation of Central Missouri, said in a release from the telethon Sunday. “I’m so thankful for all those who gave gifts of time, talent, or treasure for the telethon!”
The telethon had raised $32,660 as of Sunday morning.
Local artists and students participated in the 12-hour event, which streamed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Aside from the money raised during the telethon, over $1,000 was donated after the event.
“In the end, we raised a little over $32,000 and I promise I was originally going to be happy if we made it to $5,000,” Spence said in the release. “We had donations of $10 and a few in the thousands. It just really reminded me that Columbians stand up and do what they can to help, pretty much every time.”
The event stood in stark contrast to a week full of state conflict related to the virus that has claimed over 200,000 lives worldwide. In the past week, hundreds rallied in Jefferson City and Springfield, to name a few, demanding that Gov. Mike Parson reopen the state. The statewide stay-at-home order they protested is set to expire May 4. Also this past week, Parson claimed that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board called all non-St. Louis Missourians “simple-minded” when no such wording could be found in the newspaper’s opinion pages.
In St. Louis, where an annual vigil for victims of gun violence in the city had to be moved online due to the city’s stay-home orders and virus concerns, cases climbed once again.
The city reported 1,007 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while St. Louis County’s case count was 2,794. Nearby St. Charles County reported 526 cases.
Local advocates are speaking out over racial disparities in health care access, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“There has to be unfettered access to health care in terms of screening, testing and treatment, regardless of economic status,” Dr. Laurie Punch, a trauma surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and associate professor at Washington University, told the Post-Dispatch. “That is essential, and I don’t know if we’re moving fast enough on that front. … There needs to be a more robust set of social services in place to support people who are at risk.”
In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch reported, African Americans make up 46% of the city’s population but they represent around 70% of the city’s COVID-19 cases, and most of its virus-related deaths. In St. Louis County, African Americans make up nearly 54% of all confirmed cases of COVID-19, although they are roughly 25% of the county’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The St. Louis area may house the most prevalent outbreak by the numbers, but the largest rate of infection is found in Saline County, which reported 162 cases late Saturday. With an infection rate of roughly 700 per 100,000 people, Saline County has the highest infection rate in the state by far, including a previously reported meat-packing plant outbreak.
The state added 171 cases overall to reach 6,997 cases Sunday, with an additional death bring the state’s death toll to 274.
Boone County reported five active cases of the virus Sunday. State numbers listed 98 cases, but county totals numbered at 92, no change from the day before. Springfield’s Greene County closely followed Boone County’s total with 83 reported cases. Moniteau County reported 41 confirmed cases, with 12 probable cases that have not been confirmed by a laboratory.
In Kansas City, the state reported 493 cases. Jackson County had 307, while Johnson County reported 53. Kansas City’s stay-at-home order is set to expire May 15, eleven days after the state’s order.
The United States as of Sunday afternoon had logged nearly 1 million cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The virus is blamed for 54,435 deaths nationwide.
Throughout the world, the number of total infections confirmed by testing approached 3 million, with 205,724 deaths.
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