Missouri Department of Conservation works to safely reopen facilities closed by COVID-19

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) Earlier this week, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the first phase of the “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan outlining how Missouri will gradually begin to reopen economic and social activity starting Monday, May 4.

Based on this news, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is working on its transition plan to safely reopen MDC facilities, including nature centers and staffed shooting ranges, to ensure social-distancing requirements and infection-prevention measures are in place before opening.  The facilities will remain temporarily closed to visitors during this transition phase.  According to MDC, many of these facilities see a high volume of visitors of varying ages during peak seasons, especially spring and summer, so ensuring safety guidelines are in place is critical to a safe reopening.

“With the state opening back up May 4, we have an MDC team working on the transition plan for MDC facilities to reopen while keeping visitors and staff safe,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley.  “We do not have a date set for re-opening at this time, but we are working hard to make this happen with safety at the forefront.”

To help protect people amid increasing COVID-19 concerns, MDC temporarily closed its regional offices, Department headquarters in Jefferson City, staffed shooting ranges, nature centers, visitor centers, and educational centers around the state to the public in March.

While MDC offices are closed to general visitation, offices have continued to be staffed.  Visitors with official business will need to notify the office to gain access.  Find MDC office contact information at mdc.mo.gov/regional-contacts?county=All.

MDC has extended the cancellation of its programs and events through May 31, including hunter education classes, nature center programs and events, shooting range programs and events, and landowner workshops.

Conservation areas, nature center trails, and boat accesses remain open to the public. Hunting, fishing, and trapping seasons continue as scheduled.

For more information on MDC, to contact MDC offices, to buy permits, and more, visit MDC online at mdc.mo.gov.


The James Foundation will reopen Maramec Spring Park to a limited number of visitors (maximum of 250 people at one time) on May 4.  There will be no admission to enter the park, daily trout tags are currently waived until May 16, and the campground and bathrooms will be open while the store, playgrounds, pavilions, museum, cleaning station, and café will remain closed.  For more information, visit the Maramec Spring Park website at maramecspringpark.com/.

Daily trout tags, along with a fishing permit, unless exempt, will be required beginning May 16 for fishing at all four trout parks: Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. MDC hatchery staff will resume stocking the parks on May 15 to provide angling opportunities prior to May 16.  State Parks will begin to reopen retail operations in parks leading up to May 16.  For more information, visit Missouri State Parks website at mostateparks.com/.

Daily trout tags at Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park are $4 for adults and $3 for those 15 years of age or younger.  The daily limit at these three parks remains four trout per day.  The pilot program at Maramec Spring Park remains in effect. The daily trout tag at Maramec Spring Park is $5 for adults and $3 for anglers 15 years of age and younger.  The daily limit at Maramec Spring Park remains five trout per day.

Due to social distancing concerns, MDC previously cancelled the kids’ fishing day events at the trout parks, including May 2 at Montauk State Park and Bennett Spring State Park, and May 16 at Roaring River State Park and Maramec Spring Park.


With the current public-health emergency caused by COVID-19, MDC reminds people to continue to heed recommendations for hand washing, physical distancing, and all other public-health measures during outdoor activities.  MDC advises people to make outdoor activities as safe and enjoyable as possible by taking the following actions:

  • If you have been sick in the last two weeks, please stay home for your health and the safety of others.
  • Travel in a small group of 10 people or fewer.
  • If a conservation area looks crowded or an area parking lot is full, please do not stop and find another less-crowded location.
  • Keep a proper physical distance of at least six feet while visiting areas and especially on trails.
  • Avoid popular spots where people congregate, such as scenic overlooks, fishing docks, etc.
  • Pack water, soap and/or hand sanitizer.
  • Get more information on best practices for keeping you and your family safe from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.

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Initial COVID-19 results in from asymptomatic testing employees of Triumph Foods in St Joseph, MO

Initial COVID-19 results in from asymptomatic testing from Buchanan County MO food plant, Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) partnered with the City of St. Joseph Health Department, Northwest Health Services and Mosaic Life Care to offer COVID-19 testing to all employees at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph.

707 employees, who presented asymptomatically, had samples collected for testing at work on Monday.  Results were received today, and 92 of those are positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.  Additionally, 34 of the plant’s employees had received positive results after being tested prior to this week.

Cases are counted by county of the patient’s residence, not by location of the employer or where the test was conducted.  Not all cases among Triumph Foods employees will be counted in Buchanan County’s total case count as they are not all county residents.

Approximately 1,500 employees had samples collected for testing on Tuesday and Wednesday, and those results are pending.  Employees with positive results are being notified by the City of St. Joseph Health Department.  Those with positive results will be told to isolate, and public health professionals will assist these patients with notifications of those determined to be close contacts.  Triumph Foods is making notifications to those who have tested negative.  All who were tested will be notified with their results by Saturday.

“Our mission remains to protect health and keep Missourians safe,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS.  “We appreciate the willingness from employees of Triumph Foods to be tested and the collaboration with local health care providers to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in this community.  Partnering with providers and local health departments to test people, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, is part of our “box-in” strategy with this virus moving forward.”

At the request of the City of St. Joseph Health Department, the State is sending staff support to assist with contact tracing efforts, and more testing is to be expected as close contacts of COVID-19 patients are notified.

“It is very important that patients with positive results follow the isolation guidance they are given,” said Williams.  “Those with pending or negative results may continue to work while maintaining infection control measures we have recommended both at work and at home.”

Per CDC guidance, those who did not have COVID-19 symptoms but tested positive and are self-isolating can leave their “sick room” when at least 7 days have passed since the date of the first positive test and they continue to have no symptoms since the test.  For 3 additional days, this group of people should continue to limit contact and wear a face covering for their nose and mouth when other people are present.

Williams added, “We are grateful that our purposeful testing strategy to increase capacity for testing allows us this opportunity to do comprehensive testing, and we will continue to work closely with the employees, elected local leaders and our partners at the City of St. Joseph Health Department, Northwest Health Services, Triumph Foods and Mosaic Life Care to protect the health of the community.”

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Missouri Auditor Galloway releases report on Excelsior Springs municipal court

Missouri Auditor Galloway releases report on Excelsior Springs municipal court; audit gives court rating of “good”

Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of the Excelsior Springs Municipal Division in the Seventh Judicial Circuit.  Excelsior Springs is located in Clay County.  The audit gave the court a rating of “good”.

The audit reviewed tickets issued in 2018 and 2019 and found some issued during October 2018 were not signed by the Prosecuting Attorney as required.  In their responses, the court stated the police department is transitioning to a new e-ticketing system, which will better ensure the issue is resolved.

The audit also recommended increased information security measures to ensure computer systems within the court are safeguarded from unauthorized access.  Auditors found that multiple users share the same user identification and password for the primary computer and that passwords were not required to be changed periodically.  The court responded that changes have already been made to address the finding and improve the court’s data security.

A separate, citizen-requested audit of the City of Excelsior Springs is ongoing.

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Untested Sexual Assault Kits Shipped from Grandview, Lee’s Summit MO Police Departments

Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that 100 untested sexual assault kits were shipped from Grandview Police Department and Lee’s Summit Police Department.  50 kits were shipped from both police departments respectively, and measures were taken at both events to protect participants in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic.  “Despite these uncertain times, the Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to ensuring these kits continue to be shipped to the lab for testing,” said Attorney General Schmitt.  “I appreciate both the Grandview and Lee’s Summit Police Departments for working together with our office on this important initiative.”

“The Grandview Police Department appreciates the Attorney’s General’s Office for its partnership and coordination on the SAFE Kits initiative,” said Captain Richard Rodgers, Commander – Operations Division, Grandview Police Department.

At each collection event since the pandemic started, measures have been taken to protect participants. At the collection event at Grandview Police Department, each participant wore a face mask and practiced social distancing. At the collection event at Lee’s Summit, the main area was closed to the public, allowing participants to spread out when collecting and shipping the kits to the lab.

At the last collection event at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, a drive through service was provided, giving participants the option not to leave their cars to drop off kits.

So far, including yesterday’s shipment, 596 untested sexual assault kits have been sent to the lab to be tested as part of the SAFE Kit Initiative.

In addition to Wednesday’s shipping event, shipping events have been held at the police departments in Springfield, Columbia, St. Joseph, Blue Springs, and Joplin, and at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office has also been in contact with the lab in Virginia that processes the results of the untested sexual assault kits submitted through the SAFE Kits Initiative, and each step of the testing chain is continuing at normal pace.  The lab has been deemed an essential business, and Marshall University, which conducts technical review of the lab results, are also continuing to work at normal pace.  No slowdown in testing is expected, and the previous timeline should hold.

The SAFE Kits Initiative, funded by a grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Schmitt in January of 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits in the backlog, create an electronic tracking system, and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing and potentially eventual prosecution.

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Director of Columbia/Boone County (MO) Public Health and Human Services releases Order No. 2020-05

COLUMBIA, MO (STL.News) Stephanie Browning, director of Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) has issued Order No. 2020-05.  This order includes a framework for most businesses in Boone County to reopen with limitations on occupancy.  This order will be effective at 12 a.m. on Monday, May 4, 2020, and represents a careful, gradual and phased approach to reopening Columbia and Boone County.

“It is important that we maintain low-levels of transmission as we have learned that the public health and socioeconomic impacts of the virus are significant and disproportionately impact the vulnerable.  For that to happen, we all have to continue modifying our behaviors and every resident has a key role in facilitating this.  Thanks to the community’s hard work and sacrifice, COVID-19 cases in Boone County have begun to level off and local health care systems have been able to maintain capacity without resorting to crisis levels of care,” Browning said.


  • Individuals at high risk should continue to stay at home and not interact with others except for vital activities.
  • Those working from home should remain working from home to the greatest extent possible.
  • Most businesses will be able to reopen with capacity limits and maintain social distancing requirements.
  • For smaller locations (less than 10,000 square feet), they must maintain 25% or less of the authorized occupancy.
  • For larger locations (10,000 square feet or greater), they must maintain 10% or less of the authorized occupancy.
  • Facilities that offer personal care services, such as hair and nail salons, massage services and others, will have more restrictive capacity limits, as it is not possible to social distance during those services. Refer to the order for more information.
  • Large venues, movie theaters, bars, playgrounds, hot tubs and spray grounds will continue to be closed.  Contact sports will also be prohibited during this time.
  • Mass gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted.  Social distancing should continue to be practiced at all times when around others not in the same household.

The contact investigation team at PHHS is working closely with local health care systems and testing laboratories to track new cases of the virus.  Should there be any indication that the progress that has been made thus far is jeopardized, the PHHS director may reinstate restrictions based on the epidemiological conditions at that time.

Businesses should refer to the business guidance document provided by PHHS for more information on how to safely operate during this time.  If you are a business with questions about operating requirements, please email [email protected]  In addition to business guidance, PHHS will be launching an online, voluntary training for businesses to certify that they are using best safety practices during COVID-19.  More information will be available soon.

We encourage everyone to review the Order in its entirety.  Additional information can be found in our FAQ document or by emailing [email protected] for general questions.


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Missouri Rolls Out Third Federal Program under the CARES Act

Missouri Rolls Out Third Federal Program under the CARES Act; Announces Weekly Claims Numbers

Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) The Missouri Department of Labor’s (DOLIR’s) Division of Employment Security (DES) has launched the third federal program under the CARES Act in just under a month of having received its first guidance from the federal government.  The latest program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program will provide up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.  Those eligible for the PEUC will also be eligible for an additional $600 weekly supplement available through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for qualifying weeks.

The DES is sending letters and email notices to potentially eligible individuals who have previously applied for benefits and could potentially be eligible for the PEUC program.  It encourages those who have previously exhausted their regular unemployment claims to check their correspondence in UInteract at uinteract.labor.mo.gov for additional instructions.  For those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, but still have an active benefit year, the DES encourages those claimants to continue to file weekly requests for payment.  Those that are potentially eligible for the PEUC program do not need to wait for receipt of the DES communications; potentially eligible individuals can log into UInteract today and look under their correspondence tab for instructions on how to file for a PEUC claim.

For the week ending April 25, 2020, the most recent week for which claims information is available, the DES reported a total of 54,710 initial claims.  That is a decrease of 7.7 percent in initial claims compared to the previous week.  Of the 54,710 initial claims, 48,661 reported their claims as being COVID-19 related; this is a decrease of 2.6 percent from the previous week.

There were a total of 253,772 individuals filling weekly requests for payments (continued claims status) for the week ending April 25, 2020, with a total of $62,717,444 in regular unemployment benefits being paid for the week ending April 25, 2020.  This amount does not include payments fully funded by the new CARES Act programs.

Last week Missouri became one of the initial 10 states to start processing and paying claims for the self-employed and others ineligible for regular unemployment through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.  Under the PUA program, those individuals who qualify for benefit payments will receive between $133 and $320 a week plus a weekly $600 federal supplement available under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.  Individuals eligible for the PUA program may provide proof of earnings to potentially increase the amount of benefits received each week.

The FPUC program, which began the week of March 29, 2020, provides that those eligible for at least one dollar of unemployment compensation benefits during the week will receive an additional $600 per week as a federal supplement.  The last payable week for the $600 supplement will be the week ending July 25, 2020.

The FPUC, PUA and PEUC programs are not regular unemployment insurance programs but are new, fully federally funded assistance programs. All three of these provisions have been enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  For additional information about the FPUC, PUA and PEUC, visit labor.mo.gov/coronavirus.

The DES notes that child support payments, existing non-fraud over payments, and taxes, for those who have elected to have taxes withheld, reduces both the $600 payment as well as any weekly unemployment payments.

The DES continues to urge people to file for all unemployment benefits at uinteract.labor.mo.gov.  Claimants are reminded to take extreme care to provide accurate information.  Typos, wrong dates, incorrect answers to questions, and other data entry errors during the initial claims process cause most delays for eligible claimants. More than 90 percent of Missouri’s unemployed have been able to file claims online without assistance through the state’s UInteract system.

Before calling the DES, check for additional information on unemployment by visiting labor.mo.gov/coronavirus, watch how-to videos at labor.mo.gov/des/videos, check for correspondence and claim status on your account at uinteract.labor.mo.gov and ask unemployment questions of the Department’s virtual assistant at labor.mo.gov.

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$100,000 Scratchers Prize Uncovered by Fordland Woman, Rachel Snodgrass

Rogersville, MO (STL.News) Rachel Snodgrass of Fordland recently uncovered a $100,000 prize on a Missouri Lottery “100 Times Lucky” Scratchers ticket.  Snodgrass purchased her winning ticket at Bill’s Quick Mart, 20 Glendale Drive, in Rogersville.

A $20 ticket, “100 Times Lucky” has more than $11.7 million in remaining prizes, including a top prize of $500,000 and two additional $100,000 prizes.

In the most recent fiscal year, players in Webster County won more than $3.8 million in Missouri Lottery prizes.  Retailers in the county received more than $398,000 in commissions and bonuses, and an additional $1.1 million went to educational programs in the county.  To see a detailed list of programs that benefited, visit MOLottery.com.

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$100,000 Money Multiplier Prize Won in Mexico MO by Linda Walker

Mexico, MO (STL.News) Mexico resident Linda Walker recently claimed a $100,000 top prize on a Missouri Lottery “$100,000 Money Multiplier” Scratchers game.  She purchased her ticket from JB Hawks, 2120 E. Liberty St., in Mexico.

Starting on Dec. 30, 2019, “$100,000 Money Multiplier” is a $5 game that allows players to multiply their prizes by the multiplier number shown on the ticket.  Walker collected one of the game’s six top prizes.  Two top prizes are still unclaimed, and over $6.8 million in prizes remain in the game.

Walker’s win adds to the prizes paid to players in Audrain County, who won more than $3.9 million in Missouri Lottery prizes last fiscal year.  Retailers in the county received more than $413,000 in incentives and commissions, and over $856,000 went to educational programs in Audrain County.

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City of St. Louis Remains Under Stay at Home Order Beyond May 4th Missouri Statewide Reopening

The City’s Stay at Home order supersedes the state of Missouri’s reopening plan announced by Governor Mike Parson, which is slated to begin on May 4

ST LOUIS, MO (STL.News) The City of St. Louis, which has the second-highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Missouri, remains under a local Stay at Home order.  This order supersedes the state of Missouri’s reopening plan announced by Governor Mike Parson, called “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan,” slated to begin on May 4.

“It’s just not safe right now to begin to reopen the City of St. Louis,” says Mayor Lyda Krewson. “We need to see at least 14 days of sustained decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases before we can consider reopening.  By moving that process too quickly, we could put our family members and neighbors at risk for contracting the virus.  I understand many of you wish to return to work and your normal lives, but we must remain vigilant to continue to slow the spread,” says Mayor Krewson.

“The City continues to work toward identifying gaps where additional services like COVID-19 testing sites can be provided.  Currently, there are 10 sites within the City or nearby for the public to be screened and possibly tested,” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of health for the City of St. Louis.  “As we expand these measures, we can locate hot spot areas and increase the focus of prevention efforts to slow the spread and hopefully reopen the City in the coming weeks.”

Executive Order #7, the current Stay at Home order for the City of St. Louis, will remain in effect until the City’s Director of Health, Dr. Echols, determines the threat of increased spread of COVID-19 has diminished.  This means only businesses deemed essential through Executive Order #7 may remain open during this time.  Residents are asked to report any business in violation to the Citizens’ Service Bureau at (314) 622-4800.

As of 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, the number of positive cases in the City of St. Louis was 1,126, with 60 COVID-19 associated deaths that have been reported to the City of St. Louis Department of Health.

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U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS-CI warn taxpayers against fraud schemes related to COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments

KANSAS CITY, MO (STL.News) U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison and Special Agent in Charge Karl Stiften, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), St. Louis Field Office, are warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use the COVID-19 economic impact payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money.

Garrison and Stiften made the announcement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers from falling victim to criminals using the recently approved economic impact payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.

“We want the public to be informed and alert so they don’t fall prey to these criminal schemes,” said Garrison.  “Economic impact payments are intended to assist honest citizens, not enrich greedy fraudsters.”

“The existence of a deadly national pandemic will not stop criminals seeking to capitalize on the fears and difficulties faced by the public as they try to line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information,” warned Stiften.

Automatic COVID-19 economic impact payments started being deposited into taxpayers’ accounts on April 11.  For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into their bank accounts.  Those without bank accounts, retirees, or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well.  Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or use this as an opportunity to get you to “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money, and then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme.  Because of this, everyone receiving a COVID-19 related economic impact payment from the government is at risk.

Garrison and Stiften offered the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued:

  • The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
  • The IRS will not call or send an email or text to ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account or any other account information – even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. It’s a scam.
  • If you receive a call, don’t engage with scammers or thieves, even if you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam, or you think that you can beat them. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them.  Don’t click on any links in those emails or texts.
  • Reports are also swirling about bogus checks.  If you receive a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.

In these uncertain and trying times, we need to stand together united with purpose. Don’t become a victim by allowing criminals to exploit your emotions.  Stay strong, tell your family, friends and neighbors about these scams.

“IRS Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are prioritizing these types of investigations to help protect taxpayers and the tax system, especially those looking to prey on vulnerable taxpayers,” said Stiften.  “Remember, go directly and solely to IRS.gov for official information.”

For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.  You can always report scams to the IRS on the website at https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing


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