Missouri coronavirus death toll climbs to 6

A sign shows a message related to the coronavirus outbreak on a deserted street corner Monday, March 23, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's death toll from the coronavirus doubled to six in one day, and cities and counties statewide took new measures Tuesday to slow the spread of the virus.

Greene County health officials announced late Monday that a woman in her 80s who lived at an assisted-living facility had died. Three other residents of the same facility have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

Earlier Monday, health officials announced the death of a woman in her 30s in St. Louis and a man in his 70s in St. Charles County.

The state health department reported 183 confirmed cases as of Monday, up from 106 the day before. An updated number was expected Tuesday afternoon.

The health department said the rise in numbers was partly attributable to the increasing access to testing. With several health care centers and systems operating mobile testing sites, the state now lists 28 places offering testing.

Missouri has received some personal protective equipment for free from the national strategic stockpile but also is spending about $20 million of state funds on supplies needed by health care workers and emergency responders, state Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell said Tuesday.

The state placed a $10 million order this week for nearly 4.3 million N95 respirator masks, O'Connell said. Among other things, the state ordered 335,000 bottles of hand sanitizer at a cost of $700,000; 95,000 surgical masks for $190,000; and 61,000 goggles for $117,000, he said.

Missouri lawmakers haven't approved a specific budget appropriation for coronavirus efforts, and the Capitol is shut down for at least the next two weeks. But O'Connell said the state has used $2.3 million from its disaster fund and is tapping $18 million from existing budgets in several departments.

Among Missouri's sick are five members from the Weinhaus family in St. Louis County. Jane Weinhaus, 63, teaches at the early childhood center at Congregation Temple Israel, where she is one of four teachers to come down with COVID-19. She was hospitalized on a ventilator for more than a week but is now off the ventilator, the family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Michael Weinhaus is hospitalized on high-flow oxygen. Jason Weinhaus, his brother Ryan and Ryan's wife Dr. Brittanie Weinhaus have tested positive but have nearly recovered, Jason Weinhaus told the newspaper.

Also hospitalized is an inmate at the state prison in St. Joseph. Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said prisoners are continuing normal activities but their health is being closely monitored.

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

Some places have gone to extreme measures. In Hannibal, where Samuel Clemens grew up and which is known for its Mark Twain sites, the city removed or roped off all playground equipment and removed picnic tables from parks.

Boone County (Mo.) joined the growing list of jurisdictions requiring residents to stay at home.

St. Louis city and St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Jackson, Clay and Buchanan counties also have enacted stay-at-home orders. Statewide, Republican Gov. Mike Parson has banned gatherings of more than 10 people, but has declined to require people to stay at home despite pressure from some medical leaders.

State officials took action preventing Food Stamp benefits from ending during the pandemic, and waived work requirements through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration.

Police in Warrenton arrested a man who posted a video on social media of himself licking merchandise at a Walmart story. Warrenton is 55 miles (90 kilometers) west of St. Louis.

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Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Salter reported from O'Fallon, Missouri.