Missouri Minute: Ozarks partygoers draw national attention; Springfield hair stylists test positive for COVID-19

Good morning, MBA readers,

Missouri drew national attention over the holiday weekend when video of people partying at the Lake of the Ozarks went viral. Footage showing a large group of people swimming and drinking, without masks and clearly without social distancing, has drawn more than 18 million views on Twitter, prompting debate over ongoing COVID-19 precautions and the enforcement of health experts’ recommendations. Since the video surfaced, Missouri’s health director has condemned the gathering and warned that spreading the virus could have “long-lasting and tragic” results. However, crowded lakefront venues aren’t the only places in Missouri attracting attention as businesses in the state reopen while contending with the potential spread of the coronavirus. At a Springfield salon, two hairstylists tested positive for COVID-19, and it’s believed they potentially exposed 140 clients to the coronavirus. The incident rose to national attention partly because one of the stylists worked for eight days while showing symptoms.


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Ozarks partygoers draw national attention, official rebukes
As people flocked to celebrate Memorial Day weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks, photos and videos on social media and in news reports showed crowded bars and pools where patrons flouted social distancing guidelines. With more than 12,100 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Missouri as of Monday, the state’s top health official warned that the coronavirus could have “long-lasting and tragic” effects. (Springfield News-Leader, Associated Press)

Springfield hair stylists test positive for COVID-19
Two Great Clips hair stylists worked several days while symptomatic, possibly exposing as many as 140 clients. The Great Clips location has temporarily closed for sanitizing, and those who came into contact with the stylists have been notified. (Springfield-News Leader, Business Insider)

St. Louis sets gym reopening date as judge orders two to close
St. Louis fitness centers and dance studios will be allowed to reopen June 15. All will be subject to capacity limits and social distancing guidelines. That news came shortly after a federal judge ordered the temporary closure of two locations of a St. Louis County gym that had stayed open against a county order. (KDSK, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis airport privatization not completely dead
Months after Mayor Lyda Krewson said a deal to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport was dead, the city has not yet pulled a federal application to privatize the facility. Krewson said she won’t reopen the process of leasing out the entire airport to a private operator, but that privatization could be used to develop unused land that the airport currently owns. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Hospitals across state face economic instability
From major medical systems in the St. Louis area to small rural facilities, many hospitals are experiencing financial problems due to the coronavirus. That’s felt acutely in the St. Louis region, where last year health care made up over 15% of jobs, one of the largest concentrations in the country. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

State debates how to spend remaining CARES Act funding
With roughly $1 billion left to allocate, state officials are considering a handful of uses. Education resources, economic development and coronavirus testing are all being considered. (Columbia Missourian)

Testing problems lead to skewed Missouri COVID-19 figures
Missouri overcounted the number of people tested for the coronavirus by about 17,000. State officials combined the number of people tested using the viral test and the antibody test, leading to an inaccurate infection rate count. The true number of positive tests should be higher than the reported 6.5%. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KCI sees sharp passenger decline
The number of passengers traveling through Kansas City International Airport dropped nearly 96% in April. Air freight and air mail also declined in comparison to last year. (Kansas City Star)

State committee to address meatpacking plant conditions
The committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Haffner and Sen. Justin Crown, will meet Thursday to discuss the safety of production line workers for slaughter facilities and how disruptions in production have impacted the Missouri cattle industry. (Missourinet)

Voters will see Medicaid expansion measure on November ballot
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft approved a petition with over 340,000 signatures to add Medicaid expansion to the state’s ballot. The measure would allow people earning 138% of the federal poverty level to receive Medicaid benefits. (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis construction permits plummet 76%
While St. Louis construction sites have remained active despite the pandemic, there were no new permits for ground-up projects issued in April. The combined value of the 197 projects that were approved is less than half of last year’s value. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Columbia waste disposal staff exposed to COVID-19
The City of Columbia will pause the collection of recycling for one week after workers were exposed to COVID-19. Recycling collection is planned to resume May 30. (Columbia Missourian)

Columbia College, Moberly Area Community College form partnership
The new offering from the mid-Missouri schools will let students live on the Columbia College campus while taking MACC courses. The program aims to reduce the time and cost to complete a bachelor’s degree. (Columbia Daily Tribune)


Say that again

“It’s 2020. There should be no difficulty in making this information available online.”

That’s Dave Roland, a Missouri lawyer specializing in public records lawsuits, speaking about the lack of transparency in many states over spending on coronavirus-related medical supplies, the Associated Press reports. Some have expressed concerns about this due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the fact that many states have dropped their spending safeguards in response to the pandemic. Missouri has launched a websitedetailing its allocation of federal COVID-19 funds, but the website only shows the amount paid to vendors in general categories, such as “medical and dental supplies” or “office supplies,” instead of a detailed list of products. Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, whose office created the website, said the information is limited due to outdated computer accounting systems.


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That’s former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri commenting on the recent video of people partying at the Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend. “Ozarks” began trending on social media as the video brought out a variety of responses across the country over the lack of social distancing, and what some saw as irresponsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, others cheered that people were out enjoying themselves and supporting businesses. John Olivarri, mayor of Osage Beach, a town on the lake’s eastern edge, expressed concern for the community, but he also said there was no way he could see to control the gatherings, the Kansas City Star reports.


Hello, my name is

Bob Behnken

This Air Force colonel, medical engineer and veteran astronaut is one of two astronauts scheduled for launch Wednesday as SpaceX attempts to become the first private company to send astronauts into orbit. Behnken grew up in the St. Louis area and is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, KSDK reports. He already has six spacewalks on the International Space Station, and now the aerospace company is set to send him into space again.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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