O’FALLON, MO. (AP) — An area woman in her 30s has died from the COVID-19 coronavirus, and officials said Monday that they were still trying to figure out how she had gotten the disease.
The death was the fourth in Missouri from COVID-19, and her relative youth “is a cause for concern for us,” Dr. Fredrick Echols, the city’s health director, said at a news conference. He said the woman had been in the hospital on Sunday, though he declined to provide further personal details about her.
The woman hadn’t recently traveled, but Echols said it was too early to consider it a case of community spread, in which it’s unclear how an infected person contracted the virus and its origin can’t be traced.
The announcement came hours before a stay-at-home edict was to take effect for the combined 1.3 million residents of St. Louis city and county.
“This should be a wake-up call for all of us, particularly anyone who may still question whether or not this is a real thing,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said at the news conference.
Similar stay-at-home orders were set to take effect Tuesday in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. Kansas City officials said enforcement of the order wouldn’t be heavy-handed, unless it proved necessary.
“We will not be stopping people to ask for papers if you are going to work or stopping cars and asking where they are going and how you are getting there,” Kansas City’s police chief, Rick Smith, said. .We are asking people to have civic responsibility and not depend only on enforcement.” He said traffic violators would face a good chance of being pulled over because police “don’t want it to become a free-for-all out there.”
Jefferson County announced stay-at-home orders to take effect at midnight on Monday and last through April 23.
Statewide, Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, banned gatherings of more than 10. Hsaid e has declined to require people to stay at home despite pressure from some medical leaders.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Missouri’s health department said Monday that 183 people had confirmed cases of the virus, up from 106 a day earlier. The state’s three other COVID-19 deaths were reported last week in Boone, Jackson and St. Louis counties.
Among the new cases were four at an assisted-living center in Springfield. The city’s health director, Clay Goddard, said residents and staff were being monitored to watch for potential additional cases.
Goddard had a simple message for those who want to help: Don’t go out.
“It’s going to sound very counter-intuitive to you as a citizen, but as much as possible we need everyone to do nothing right now,” Goddard said at a news conference. “That means you stay at home.”
The Kansas City International Airport said that several hand sanitizer dispensers had been ripped off the wall in restrooms and that it wouldn’t be able to purchase replacements for months.