Kansas City

US deaths from COVID-19 surpass 100,000 milestone in less than 4 months

HARTFORD, Conn. — The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths.

That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined.

“It is a grim milestone,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be.”

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 5.6 million people and killed over 350,000, with the U.S. having the most confirmed cases and deaths by far, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths, while the U.S. reached more than 100,000 in less than four months.

The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it.

At the end March, the United States eclipsed China with 3,500 deaths. Now, the U.S. has not only the highest death total, but the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, making up more than 30% of the global total.

Early on, President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and called it no worse than the common flu. He previously predicted the country wouldn’t reach this death toll.

As early as March, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, was warning that COVID-19 could claim more than 100,000 lives in the U.S.

“I think we’ll be substantially under that number,” Trump said on April 10. Ten days later, he said, “We’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people.” Ten days after that: “We’re probably heading to 60,000, 70,000.”

Critics have said deaths spiked because Trump was slow to respond, but he has contended on Twitter that it could have been 20 times higher without his actions. He has urged states to reopen their economies after months of stay-at-home restrictions.

The virus exacted an especially vicious toll on Trump’s hometown of New York City and its surrounding suburbs, killing more than 21,000.

At the peak, hundreds of people were dying per day in New York City, and hospitals, ambulances and first responders were inundated with patients.

The densely packed New York metropolitan area, consisting of about 20 million people across a region that encompasses the city’s northern suburbs, Long Island and northern New Jersey, has been the hardest-hit corner of the country, accounting for at least one-third of the nation’s deaths.

There is no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, though several emergency treatments are being used after showing some promise in preliminary testing.

Worldwide, about a dozen vaccine candidates are starting to be tested or getting close to it. Health officials have said studies of a potential vaccine might be done by late this year or early next year.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Among the 100,000 deaths was 74-year-old Michael Ganci, a resident of Newington, Connecticut, who died March 21. He was a public school teacher, a grandfather and father of four, and a 4th-degree belt Sensei in Kyokushin karate.

Ganci, who had a compromised immune system, died at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford three days after showing symptoms.

His family was not allowed to be with him and tried to text and talk with him on his cellphone during his final days. His wife of 48 years also tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to grieve alone.

For their daughter, 45-year-old Joanna Ganci of Beverly, Massachusetts, the milestone and other statistics are important to understand the scope of the virus.

“But at the same time, I think the danger of counting, the danger of statistics, is that it just minimizes the human element,” she said.

“And I think, again, we see that our country is in the throes of this kind of moment of just that the numbers don’t seem to mean anything anyway to many. It’s like, what number is going to make an impact for people who haven’t been touched by it?”

“For people whose lives haven’t been threatened or where the virus hasn’t been as rampant through a community, I just think numbers or not, it’s still so abstract to so many people,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 200,000, 100,000 or 10. It doesn’t mean anything until you’re personally affected by it.”

From Jan. 1 through the end of April, the U.S. saw at least 66,000 more overall deaths than in similar periods for previous years, an increase of around 7%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The coronavirus was reported as a cause in about half the excess deaths, but experts also believe the virus was likely a factor in many others.

Coroners caution that deaths from other causes are likely up, too, including those from drug overdoses and among people who delayed treatment for problems like heart attacks.

It’s not even clear when the coronavirus first appeared in the United States. Initially, it was believed the first death from the virus in the U.S. was on Feb. 29 in Kirkland, Washington, a Seattle suburb.

But by mid-April, it was determined that two people with the coronavirus died in California as much as three weeks earlier.

Because it can take one or two weeks between the time people get infected and when they get sick enough to die, it now appears the virus was circulating in California in late January, if not earlier.

Comparing countries is tricky, given varying levels of testing and the fact that some coronavirus deaths can be missed.

According to figures tracked by Johns Hopkins University, the death rate per 100,000 people is lower in the U.S. than Italy, France and Spain but higher than Germany, China, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

“The experience of other countries shows that death at that scale was preventable,” Michaud said.

“To some extent the United States suffers from having a slow start and inconsistent approach. We might have seen a different trajectory if different policies were put into place earlier and more forcefully.”

Countries with low death rates suppressed the virus “through lots of testing, contact tracing and policies to support isolation and quarantine of people at risk,” Michaud said.

Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of ICAP, a global health center at Columbia University, called the U.S. death rate shocking.

“It reflects the fact that we have neglected basic fundamentals for health,” El-Sadr said. “We have neglected public health and we have failed to secure access to quality health services to all Americans.”

“So, now we are in this shameful situation,” El-Sadr said. “It is the most vulnerable people in our midst, the elderly, the poor, members of racial/ethnic minority groups who are the ones disproportionately getting sick and dying.”

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/tracking-coronavirus/us-deaths-from-covid-19-surpass-100000-milestone-in-less-than-4-months/

Kansas City

KC’s Ameristar Casino plans to reopen June 1 with some safety restrictions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ameristar Casino in Kansas City will reopen next week, pending regulatory approval, after being closed for more than two months. 

Boyd Gaming, which owns the Kansas City hotel and casino, said it will reopen at 11 a.m. Monday, June 1. 

But the casino will have some restrictions in place to meet local and state requirements. Ameristar will utilize protocols that Boyd Gaming calls “Boyd Clean.”

Social distancing and capacity requirements will be enforced for employees and customers, including on the casino floors and in restaurants.

All employees will wear face coverings and have their temperature checked, and the facility will have enhanced cleaning. 

Ameristar will only be open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. on weekends.

The reopening, however, is dependent upon final regulatory approval. 

The Missouri Gaming Commission closed all state casinos on March 17 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The order was extended several times, most recently in mid-May until the end of the month.

June 1 will be the first day non-tribal Missouri casinos are allowed to reopen. 

Harrah’s and Isle of Capri casinos in Kansas City and Argosy Casino in Riverside have not shared any reopening plans as of Wednesday. 

Under Kansas reopening plans, Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in KCK opened slots Monday, using no-touch forehead scanners to take players’ temperatures before they enter.

Several other Kansas casinos have also opened already, but 7th Street Casino, also in KCK, has not shared any reopening plans yet.  

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/kcs-ameristar-casino-plans-to-reopen-june-1-with-some-safety-restrictions/

Kansas City

Kansas City native, track star Erycka Fisher tackles Ultimate Tag

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two-time All-American track star Erycka Fisher is getting the ultimate chance to show off her terrific track skills. The Kansas City native and Park University alum will be on the show Ultimate Tag Wednesday, May 27 right here on FOX4.

 Fisher lives in Texas but is back in KC visiting relatives. As she and FOX4’s Rob Collins dodged raindrops at Park University, she talked about trying to dodge the taggers. Those are the folks trying to catch her on the show. They’re fit, fired up, and at times, ferocious. Fisher says the experience was exhilarating, but certainly not what she expected.

“I thought it was gonna be like tag where you just tag someone, not professional parkour taggers jumping over stuff and growling at you, going over obstacle courses, being 30 feet up in the air without any type of harness,” Fisher said. “So, yeah, it was way different than I expected.”

Fisher says she’s afraid of heights and that viewers will probably get a bit of a laugh during a certain part of the competition.

Watch Ultimate Tag Wednesdays on FOX4 at 8 p.m.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/kansas-city-native-track-star-erycka-fisher-tackles-ultimate-tag/

Kansas City

Leavenworth police say incident that started with active shooter leads closure of Centennial Bridge

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Leavenworth police are investigating a shooting that happened on the Centennial Bridge Wednesday morning that started as an active situation, that person was eventually disarmed by a soldier.

The bridge was closed at about 11 a.m., and is still closed as of 2:30 p.m., there’s no estimate for when it may reopen.

So far FOX4 has learned that a 30-year-old victim was shot and suffered unknown injuries, we’re still gathering details about everything that led up to the shooting and whether anyone else was injured during the same event.

There will be a 3 p.m. news conference from Leavenworth police that you can watch on this page for the latest updates.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/leavenworth-police-say-incident-that-started-with-active-shooter-leads-closure-of-centennial-bridge/

Kansas City

LIVE UPDATES: NASA astronauts arrive at launchpad ahead of historic crewed SpaceX mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WFLA) – Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley bid farewell to their families Wednesday afternoon before starting their journey to Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A for NASA’s first crewed commercial mission.

If Florida’s weather cooperates, Behnken and Hurley will be the first humans to be launched from U.S. soil since 2011.

The latest forecast from the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron gives a 50 percent chance weather will cooperate for the historic launch of the Demo-2 mission. The primary concerns listed are flight through precipitation, the anvil cloud rule and the cumulus cloud rule.

“Residual moisture with the passing low-pressure system and increased low-level convergence will threaten the Space Coast with showers and thunderstorms this afternoon,” the 45th Weather Squadron wrote.

The Demo-2 mission has a targeted launch time of 4:33 p.m. ET. If all goes according to plan, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center and carry Behnken and Hurley to the International Space Station.

“I don’t have to tell you all how exciting it is to have the first flight of humans to space from the Kennedy Space Center in nine years,” Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said Tuesday.

The Demo-2 mission marks a new era of human spaceflight. NASA describes is a the final major step before the Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for long-duration missions to the space station.

Nexstar will be bringing you live coverage throughout the day of the historic crewed launch. Check back here for updates.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/live-updates-50-50-chance-weather-will-cooperate-for-historic-crewed-spacex-launch/

Kansas City

Lake of the Ozarks business owner defends actions

O’FALLON, Mo  — The owner of a business that hosted crowded pool parties over the Memorial Day weekend at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks says no laws were broken and safety measures were in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Social media postings over the weekend showed large crowds of mostly young people without masks and not adhering to social distancing guidelines at pools along the central Missouri lake that is a popular weekend getaway for people in the state and the surrounding region. Many of photos and videos showed people in an area of the lake nicknamed “Party Cove.”

Political leaders in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kansas City, along with Kansas’ health secretary, encouraged 14-day self-quarantines for anyone involved in the parties. Some labeled the gatherings “reckless” and worried that revelers would return home after becoming unwittingly exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 and potentially spread it to others.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat and a medical doctor, noted studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. Those people can then spread the virus to older adults and people with existing health problems who are more vulnerable to more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

“The pictures that emerged from Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend were an international example of bad behavior,” Page said Wednesday.

Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, was among the places with big crowds. Owner Gary Prewitt said in a statement that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s state order requiring social distancing.

Prewitt’s statement said temperatures were checked at the pool entrance by medical staff hired for the event and free bottles of hand sanitizer were distributed. Staff members were given the option not to work.

The statement noted that the business is seasonal and about one-third of its busy season has already been lost due to coronavirus-related closures.

“We stand by our decision to move forward with Memorial Day Weekend plans,” Prewitt’s statement said.

Although Missouri’s social distancing order gives enforcement authority to both the state and local health departments, Parson has said enforcement responsibility lies with local health departments.

The health director in one lake-area county, Osage, said he had no enforcement authority. The health director in Camden County, where Backwater Jacks is located, did not respond to email messages seeking comment.

Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot (2-meter) social distancing through at least the end of May. St. Louis and St. Louis County are just now phasing in reopening because COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, was so devastating there. More than half of Missouri’s 12,291 confirmed cases have occurred in those locations, along with more than two-thirds of the state’s 686 deaths.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/tracking-coronavirus/lake-of-the-ozarks-business-owner-defends-actions/

Kansas City

Jackson County says swimming pools could open as soon as June 1

JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — Jackson County, Missouri officials announced Wednesday that swimming pools will be allowed to open under Phase 2.

This means pools could open as soon as June 1.

The county issued a list of guidelines for homeowner associations, hotels and other shared pool proprietors to follow when opening pools for the season. They include setting up six feet by six feet squares for guests to ensure proper social distancing. This also applies to the surface area of the water.

Facilities will also be encouraged to routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces including door handles, lifeguard chairs, pool chairs, flotation devices, pool handrails, lifesaving equipment, etc., at least twice a day.

Swimmers may also notice posters or signage at the entrance of the facility and in high visibility areas asking those who feel ill to stay out.

Facilities are also asked to turn in a written plan to Jackson County Environmental Health for approval prior to opening. Email to dsees@jacksongov.org or celledge@jacksongov.org.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/kc-comeback/jackson-county-says-swimming-pools-could-open-as-soon-as-june-1/

Kansas City

Missouri students may know by mid-July if they’ll return to classroom this fall

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Department of Education Commissioner, Dr. Margie Vandeven is answering some of the questions on the minds of parents across the state.

The CDC recently put out guidelines for school districts. This includes distancing desks, teachers wearing masks, and keeping students with the same teacher throughout the day.

There are a lot of different options that educators are considering to return students to schools this fall. The state of Missouri is working to address the digital divide in distance learning. But, they are ready to pivot to a number of different scenarios depending on the health situation.

Schools shut down two months ago to in-person learning. Schools regularly start three months from now. They are working with health officials to determine if that is possible.

“It is going to be a tough year,” said Dr. Margie Vandeven.

Budgets are expected to be slashed at many Missouri schools. They are also working to determine what students will need when they come back after an extended summer break. Many students will have different levels of summer drift when they return.

An announcement on returning to schools this fall may come in mid-July at the earliest.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/missouri-students-may-know-by-mid-july-if-theyll-return-to-classroom-this-fall/

Kansas City

Brittany Murphy documentary reignites interest in her death

LOS ANGELE — Brittany Murphy’s death has long been cause for speculation.

The “Clueless” and “8 Mile” actress died in 2009 at the age of 32.

Murphy’s death was ruled accidental and determined to have been caused by a combination of pneumonia, an iron deficiency and “multiple drug intoxication,” the Los Angeles County coroner said at the time.

But the death months later of her husband, Simon Monjack, which was also ruled as caused by severe anemia and acute pneumonia added to some believing there was more to it.

The Investigation Discovery documentary “Brittany Murphy: An ID Mystery” aired Tuesday and has renewed interest in the deaths.

“Brittany Murphy is a rising star who had it all, beauty, fame, and success … but she also had secrets,” a press release for the doc stated. “When she is found dead in her Los Angeles home at just 32 years old, Hollywood and legions of fans are left in disbelief. While her autopsy reveals that she died of natural causes, many believe foul play is involved.”

The program focused in part on Monjack and the actress’s mother, Sharon Murphy, who according to the documentary “embark on a bizarre media blitz, creating more questions than answers.”

“Then, within months, Monjack perishes under strikingly similarly circumstances — in the same bed he and Brittany once shared, only this time, allegedly with Brittany’s mother sleeping beside him,” the press release stated.”In an exclusive final interview, the late Angelo Bertolotti, Brittany’s father, casts doubt on the conclusion that she died of natural causes and reveals bizarre allegations against other family members.”

Bertolotti died in 2019 at the age of 92.

The documentary can currently be streamed for free on the Discovery ID site.

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/brittany-murphy-documentary-reignites-interest-in-her-death/

Kansas City

Looking to take a Missouri road trip? Check out these destinations

ST. LOUIS – Summer travel plans have changed for many families due to the pandemic. It has some trying to figure out what close-to-home options there are this year.

The Missouri Department of Tourism shared some road trip stops from across the state. They encourage visitors to check on an attraction’s website or social media to check on hours or operations and read about requirements related to COVID-19. Some of Missouri’s state parks have limited facilities and services.

Highway 36 – The Way of American Genius stretching across the northern part of Missouri, The Way of American Genius connects towns, individuals, and events that embody American innovation. Locations – and their claim to fame – along the route include:

  • Hannibal: Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), best known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, spent his boyhood years in Hannibal. Take a riverboat ride on the Mississippi and learn more about Twain at museums such as the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, shows and other attractions including Mark Twain Cave – featured in five of Twain’s novels. Samuel Clemens’ signature was recently discovered – and authenticated – on the wall of the cave.
  • Kirksville: Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, founded osteopathic medicine in 1974. Today, there are more than 30 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the U.S. and more than 70,000 doctors of osteopathic medicine worldwide. Learn about Still at the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Marceline: As a boy, Walt Disney spent several years in Marceline. He modeled Main Street USA at his Disney theme parks after Marceline’s downtown area. Learn more about Disney at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.
  • Chillicothe: The small town is known as The Home of Sliced Bread. In 1928, the Chillicothe Banking Company was the first company in the world to sell commercially sliced bread. See the machine invented by Otto Rohwedder – on loan from the Smithsonian. The community has a Sliced Bread Festival every July.
  • St. Joseph: Visit the birthplace of the Pony Express, the mail relay system designed to deliver correspondence to the west in the fastest way possible.

Highway 19 – Wine and Rivers:

Begin a road trip down Highway 19 in historic Missouri wine country (about 75 miles east of St. Louis) and travel south into an area crisscrossed by crystal-clear rivers perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. The route runs through the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the first national park area in the United States to protect a river system, and a section of the Mark Twain National Forest.

  • Hermann – Located in the heart of Missouri’s historic wine region, Hermann is a charming small town located on the Missouri River. Historic brick buildings line the downtown, offering an array of dining and shopping, including the Hermann Wurst Haus where you can find freshly made sausages and other German specialties. The Hermann Wine Trail includes the award-winning Stone Hill Winery (prior to Prohibition, it was the second-largest winery in the United States) and 10 other wineries, many located along the Missouri River. The town offers a number of lodging options including bed and breakfast inns and “treehouses.”
  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways – The Jacks Fork and Current rivers make up this nationally-protected area where visitors enjoy the lush green forests and rock bluffs while they canoe, kayak or raft down the sparkling rivers. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways was the country’s first national park area to protect a river system.
  • Springs: Some of Missouri’s most beautiful natural springs are located just minutes from Highway 19. Near the town of Eminence, picturesque Alley Mill – which now operates as a museum – sits alongside the teal-colored waters of Alley Spring. Short hikes take you the brilliant blue water of Round Spring and Blue Spring, one of the deepest springs in the United States.
  • Near Alton: Take a longer hike through the Ozark terrain to reach Greer Spring, the State’s second-largest spring, churning out more than 200 million gallons of water a day.

Highway 21 – Ozark Beauty and History

Highway 21, running southwest out of St. Louis, takes you straight into the rugged beauty of the Ozark Mountains, some of the oldest mountains in the United States. Just minutes from the highway, you’ll find some of Missouri’s most interesting natural attractions. Visit in the spring and you’ll be treated to forest views filled with blooming Red Bud and Dogwood trees. In the autumn months, the hillsides are brilliant with fall color.

  • Washington State ParkWashington State Park is filled with history. It contains the largest group of petroglyphs ever found in Missouri and provides clues about the Native Americans who inhabited the region dating back to 1,000 AD. Many years later, the African-American company of the Civilian Conservation Corps began work in the park after it was established in 1932. They built several structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places that are still used today. Cabins and campsites offer lodging, and you can rent a canoe or kayak to float down the Big River.
  • Elephant Rocks State Park – Marvel at billion-year-old giant pink granite boulders lined up like a row of circus elephants. A mile-long paved trail at the park makes the park easy to explore.
  • Caledonia – The tiny village of Caledonia is a national historic district and is home to several restaurants and the 1909 Old Village Mercantile that offers homemade ice cream and more than 600 varieties of candy. The village, which celebrated its 200 anniversary and Scottish heritage in 2019, hosts several festivals throughout the year including the Caledonia Pumpkin Festival. Bed and breakfast inns offer lodging.
  • Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site – Visit the site of one of Missouri’s largest and hard-fought Civil War battles. The Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site visitor center and museum interpret the conflict with exhibits and presentations.
  • Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park – Take a dip in Missouri’s most unique “swimming hole” where the Black River has carved out pools and chutes in ancient volcanic rock, creating a natural “waterpark.” Campsites and camper cabins provide lodging options.
  • Arcadia ValleyThe Aracadia Valley sits in the middle of some of Missouri’s most interesting geologic features born from long-extinct volcanoes. Bed and breakfast inns and cabins provide lodging. Arcadia’s train depot is home to a visitor’s center and museum.

Route 66 – Missouri’s Section of the Mother Road

Route 66 is the Show-Me State’s most famous road trip. Missouri’s section of the route runs from St. Louis to Joplin. Many towns along the way pay tribute to the road and what it meant to America. Here are just a few of the stops along the way:

  • Meramec Caverns: Meramec Caverns has been a tourist attraction since 1933 and is possibly the oldest stop along Route 66. The cave is reputed to have been used by Jesse James and his gang as a hideout. It is the largest commercial cave in Missouri.
  • Cuba: The town is the Route 66 Mural City. More than a dozen outdoor murals depict scenes from Cuba’s history and famous visitors to the town.
  • Carthage: Located on Old 66 Boulevard, the 66 Drive-In Theatre – with its original neon sign – has been in the National Register of Historic Places since 2003. The theater opened in 1949 and had a 34-year run before shutting down. Renovated and reopened in 1

from FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports https://fox4kc.com/news/looking-to-take-a-missouri-road-trip-check-out-these-destinations/