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WEDNESDAY UPDATES: Missouri officials say 24 positive for COVID-19


UPDATE 6:20 P.M.: State health officials say they'll begin putting out updated COVID-19 numbers at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the state Department of Health and Senior Services, said during a news conference with Gov. Mike Parson that 24 people have tested positive for the disease statewide. The state's first death, in Boone County, was also recorded Wednesday.

Just before the news conference, the Cole County Health Department said a second person in that county had tested positive. Both cases are related to travel, the department said.

UPDATE 5:15 P.M.: Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin says two doctors and two undergraduate students have tested positive for novel coronavirus.

Martin released the information in a letter posted Wednesday afternoon on the university website. He said he learned of the cases in the past 24 hours.

All four are quarantined and the students are in out-of-state locations. The undergraduates contracted COVID-19 during a study abroad trip to Denmark, Martin wrote.

Martin said the university had plans in place for positive COVID-19 cases in the campus community.

Gov. Mike Parson planned a news conference for 6 p.m. in the Capitol. Watch it live in the player below.

UPDATE 4:55 P.M.: The University of Missouri is offering students discounts on room and board if they move out of their on-campus housing.

Rhonda Gibler, MU's vice chancellor for finance, made the announcement Wednesday as MU continues to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Gibler wrote in an email to students that MU will give them a 45 percent housing discount for the semester if they leave residence halls by April 3.

"While dining and residence halls will remain accessible for those who need them to continue their studies, those who have the means to vacate should do so," Gibler wrote.

The university said it plans to roll over unused dining plans and provide recreation center discounts, among other financial relief.

The university has decided to conduct all classes online for the rest of the semester, as have other higher education institutions.

UPDATE 4:15 P.M.: The Boone County Assessor's Office said Wednesday that it will stop face-to-face business as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies.

Services will continue by phone, email, and online, the office said.

Boone County recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus Tuesday. On Wednesday, that person became the first death recorded in the state.

Several government offices and businesses have closed public access or limited hours to try to help slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 100 people in the United States.

UPDATE 2:36 P.M.: The US Census Bureau tweeted Wednesday afternoon that field operations are suspended until April 1 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to an announcement on the website, census takers are scheduled to visit houses around the country starting in late May. It included the timeline could change if novel coronavirus is still affecting America.

Census officials recommend citizens fill out the form online. More than 11 million people have taken part in the event that happens once every ten years, according to the website.

UPDATE 12: 40 P.M.: Boone Hospital Center said in a news release that it began drive-up testing for COVID-19 at noon Wednesday.

The collection area is south of the emergency entrance on the southwest side of the hospital. Patients should enter off Anthony Street, the hospital said.

Map showing Boone Hospital Center's testing site

The drive-thru service is meant for patients with mild symptoms who have been seen by a doctor and have an order for a test. Patients will have to present their driver's license and insurance card, the hospital said.

The tests will be free to patients.

The site will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with weekend hours to be announced.

Central Bank of Boone County said Wednesday morning that it is closing its lobbies starting Friday. Drive-up and ATM services will still be active.

UPDATE 11:43 A.M.: Missouri Book Service company officials said Wednesday the facility on West Ash in Columbia was closed until March 19 after a family member of a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

A spokeswoman for MBS said the office was closed to let crews sanitize the entire building.

An email sent out to employees said no employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus.

The worker related to the person who tested positive for COVID-19 is on a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. So far the worker hasn't shown symptoms of the virus, according to the email.

UPDATE 10:20 A.M.: Gov. Mike Parson announced on Wednesday municipal elections across the state scheduled for April 7 are postponed until June 2 because of COVID-19.

Parson signed the executive order based on a request from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

The order said ballots printed for the April election can still be used on the postponed date.

The governor said postponing the elections will keep state residents and poll workers safe.

"Given the growing concern surrounding COVID-19 and the large number of people elections attract, postponing Missouri’s municipal elections is a necessary step to help combat the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Missouri voters."

Parson said the executive order keeps some of the original deadlines for the municipal elections. The deadlines for registering for the elections and filing will not be changed.

Voters will be able to apply for an absentee ballot until May 20. In-person absentee ballots may be handed in up to 5 p.m. on June 1.

UPDATE 8:52 A.M.: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia and Jefferson City announced that the facilities will be closed until April 13.

The announcement said staff members are working on virtual programs for children involved with the nonprofit.

It included the organization offer curbside meal pickup for families starting on March 23. Staff members are working to bring other resources together for community members.

We are committed to work with partners and supporters in our community to make sure we meet the needs that may result from potential prolonged school closures. We are planning for services to assist Club members and families during this closure including access to healthy meals, providing age appropriate high-yield learning activity packets to Club members, and follow-up communication from Club staff.

Boys and Girls Club of Columbia

Boys and Girls Club leaders said they are following guidelines from the CDC and state health officials.

UPDATE 6:55 A.M.: President Donald Trump tweeted multiple times Wednesday morning. The tweets included plans to hold a news conference on COVID-19 and a promise to pay service industry workers who are out of a job.

President Trump tweeted around 6:15 a.m. that he plans to hold a news conference on Wednesday regarding novel coronavirus, which he referred to as "the Chinese virus." The tweet said the president will go over news relating to the FDA.

It's unclear when the briefing will be held.

He first tweeted before 6 a.m. saying hotel, restaurant and bar workers will receive pay from the government while those businesses are shutdown.

The president followed with another tweet that said he plans to protect medicare and social security.

UPDATE 6 A.M: Grocery store chain Schnucks announced it will be reserving its first hour for shoppers ages 60 or above and those most at-risk for coronavirus.

In a statement on its website, Schnucks said "by allowing seniors and those who are most at risk to be the first in our stores, we hope we can make it just a little bit easier for them to feel comfortable while picking up the groceries and household items they need."

The reserved hour will be from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. at all Schnucks locations starting Wednesday.

ORIGINAL: Governor Mike Parson is set to hold daily press briefings to provide updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in Missouri.

Gov. Parson will be joined by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Public Safety and MOHealthNet.

A time and location for Wednesday's briefing has not yet been set.

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