Saturday, January 22, 2022

167 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Joplin Friday

 The Joplin Health Department confirmed 167 new cases of COVID-19 Friday.

The cases bring the total to 11,518, including 545 active cases.

The city has recorded 190 deaths due to COVID-19.

Joplin R-8 Board to reconsider participation in MSSU program

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will reconsider the district's participation in the Missouri Southern State University Center for Advanced Professional Studies when it meets 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Memorial Administration Building.

The regular meeting will be preceded by a closed meeting for real estate, personnel and legal issues at 5 p.m.

A vote to approve a memorandum of understanding with the university failed by a 4-3 margin at the December board meeting, with those voting against it citing the cost.

Cost does not appear to be a problem anymore, according to documentation provided to the board. MSSU was requiring Joplin to pay for 59 seats whether it was able to fill that many or not.

That number had been lowered to 36 and as district officials note in their report, "donors have stepped forward to commit to the coverage up to 36" unused seats.

With that commitment, the district will only be obligated to use taxpayer money to pay for the students who actually participate in the program, which is designed to provide project-based learning experiences for students in conjunction with participating area businesses. 

White, Kelley present proclamation to retiring Crowder College president

(From Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin)

On Jan. 14, I was honored to present a resolution to Crowder College’s president of three years, Dr. Glenn Coltharp, who retired from a 40-year career in the field of education. 

During his presidency, Dr. Coltharp successfully navigated the college through a tumultuous ransomware attack and the COVID-19 pandemic, among other accomplishments.

(Photo: Sen. White and Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar present proclamations to retired Crowder College President Glenn Coltharp)

Sam Graves: Keeping the EPA off our land

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

I’ve been farming since I was old enough to walk. I’m certainly not alone, most farmers grow up farming. Most learn to drive a tractor long before they get behind the wheel of a truck and most learn from their parents and grandparents how to care for the land, grow crops, and raise livestock.

Today, despite what you hear the talking heads say on cable news, nearly every farm in America is family-owned and family-run. In Missouri, 95 percent of the 95,320 farms here are family farms. 

That’s important to understand because it provides a window into our way of life. See, even though I graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in agronomy, much of what I learned about farming and taking care of the land didn’t come from a classroom or a textbook. I learned it working alongside my father and grandfather—just like they did.

That’s why it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have stacked up next to your name, nobody knows better how to manage the land than the family that’s been farming it for generations. Unfortunately, it seems like some folks in Washington don’t get that. Instead, they’re dead set on trying to revive Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) overreach without stopping to take the time to listen to farmers and ranchers.

Rather than holding the traditional public roundtables all over the country to hear comments on their plan, the EPA and Corps of Engineers decided to limit input to a few virtual meetings with just 15 stakeholders nominated by outside groups and handpicked by the agencies. It’s clear their goal is to pave the way for Washington bureaucrats to control virtually every aspect of every farm in America.

Thankfully, Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins got a chance this week to let the EPA know how devastating gutting the sensible Navigable Waters Protection Rule and replacing it with Obama-era WOTUS overreach would be for family farms. His voice shouldn’t be alone, though.

I made a simple ask this week to fix this: extend the comment period and actually listen to what farmers and ranchers have to say. As I said in my letter to the EPA, “it is critical the Agencies implement a comprehensive process to solicit public feedback when initiating a new rulemaking process.”

It’s funny, we always hear liberal pundits talk about how much they love family farms when they’re bashing American agriculture, but a lot of what liberal politicians propose, from WOTUS to eliminating the stepped-up basis, seems designed to destroy family farms. If they care about protecting family farms, they should start listening to farmers, stop this WOTUS nonsense, and end their war on American agriculture.

Kansas senators make false claims about COVID-19 deaths, vaccines

By Sherman Smith
Kansas Reflector

Sen. Mike Thompson said during a health committee hearing this week that he knows “for a fact” that deaths are being wrongly attributed to COVID-19 when there isn’t an autopsy performed to confirm the finding.

The Republican from Shawnee said he knows this based on data given to him by “the previous director” of the Kansas Department for Health and Environment.

(Photo- Sen. Mike Thompson speaks during an anti-vaxxer convention in September. During a committee hearing this week, Thompson falsely claimed that the number of COVID-19 deaths is inflated and vaccines are dangerous.- Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

As former KDHE secretary Lee Norman put it: “Sounds like Thompson’s usual horses***.”

Thompson and other senators used acting KDHE secretary Janet Stanek’s inaugural appearance before the Public Health and Welfare Committee this week as a forum to sow doubt about the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 and the safety and efficacy of vaccines for the disease.

Specific statements made by Thompson, Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson, and Sen. Beverly Gossage, R-Eudora, are false.

Crush of COVID cases forces Missouri hospitals to scramble for staffing

By Rudi Keller

University of Missouri Health Care will require nurses who don’t usually care directly for patients to take four 12-hour hospital shifts during the next two weeks as it struggles under a record COVID-19 caseload.

Notice went out Jan. 14 for “licensed nurses and other licensed health care professionals at the School of Medicine currently working in research, administration, etc., who are being asked to participate in MU Health Care’s clinical labor pool,” MU Health Care spokesman Eric Maze wrote in an email to The Independent.

The demand for extra staff isn’t limited to central Missouri. Ten St. Louis-area hospitals are asking for federal staffing support through the State Emergency Management Agency, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The initial notice from MU Health alerted nurses that they would be expected to work in the hospital. Licensed nurses who currently do not have assignments involving clinical care must work two 12-hour shifts each of the next two weeks, according to a Wednesday email provided to The Independent and written by Jeanette Linebaugh, senior director of operations in the school’s Department of Surgery.

Those whose duties currently involve clinical care are expected to take one 12-hour shift at the hospital by Feb. 4, she wrote.

“Weekend and nights are highest need,” Linebaugh wrote.

Along with hospitals across the state, University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia has seen its COVID-19 inpatient load grow rapidly this month, from 80 on Jan. 1 to 122 on Thursday afternoon. Of that number, 62 percent are unvaccinated.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services reported 3,704 hospital inpatients on Monday, with preliminary data showing that increased to 3,784 on Tuesday, the highest number of any point in the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital caseloads statewide have increased 42 percent since the start of the year.

“The nationwide shortage of health care workers coupled with the ongoing and increasing patient census, increasing demand for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and growing shortages in our nursing workforce have strained our patient-facing nursing teams, and we need to provide them with additional support,” Maze wrote.

Salaried employees will be paid $75 an hour during their shifts, while those who work on an hourly rate will receive $25 an hour extra, plus any available bonuses, Linebaugh’s email wrote.

MU Health Care is also increasing its vaccination requirements, KMIZ-TV in Columbia reported Thursday afternoon. Employees who do not get a booster shot when eligible could face termination, the station reported.

Statewide, only about 20 percent of hospital beds, and 18 percent of ICU beds, are available, state health department data shows. The shortage is most keenly felt in the Kansas City area, where only 15 percent of beds are available, and the St. Louis region, where 18 percent of all beds and only 13 percent of ICU beds are available.

“Emergency rooms continue to stack up,” said Dr. Clay Dunagan, chief clinical officer for BJC HealthCare, during a briefing Wednesday by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. . “We have a large number of people who have to stay in an emergency room overnight or even multiple days before they can be transferred to get the care they need.”

There is some evidence in the daily case reports that the omicron variant wave has peaked in St. Louis metropolitan area, but those reports also show cases are increasing rapidly in more rural areas of the state.

Over the past seven days the number of reported cases declined 28.6 percent in the Missouri portion of the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical area but increased 61 percent in 22 southwest Missouri counties.

The decline is evident throughout the St. Louis metro area, but is most pronounced in St. Louis and St. Louis County, the only jurisdictions requiring masks in public places. On Wednesday, Circuit Judge Richard Stewart denied a request from Attorney General Eric Schmitt for a temporary restraining order to block the St. Louis County mask mandate.

Cases are down 34 percent in St. Louis County and 37 percent in St. Louis over the past week.

The state health department reported 16,509 additional coronavirus infections on Thursday, the second highest number of the pandemic. The seven-day average of reported cases, 12,152, is only 1.2% higher than a week ago, but it is more than four times the rate seen in late December.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Bipartisan commission approves new Missouri House districts

By Rudi Keller

As the Missouri House finalized its version of a new Congressional map Wednesday, a panel of 20 Republicans and Democrats agreed on a new map for the chamber’s 163 seats.

The House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan, which needed support from 14 members to pass before Sunday’s deadline.

(Photo- The House chamber on Jan. 18, 2022- Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications)

The successful completion of a Missouri House map was the first by a citizens’ commission since 1991.

“The reason our commission was successful overall was that we realized we needed to come to some common ground,” said Jonathan Ratliff, a commission member who is also executive director of the House Republican Campaign Committee.

In a statement issued by the Missouri Democratic Party, commission Co-Chair Keena Smith noted that many observers were skeptical of its chances for success.

“We are encouraged by the bipartisan work this commission has completed,” Smith said.

Hartzler: I'm joining Josh Hawley to ban insider trading in Congress

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

When Speaker Pelosi can trade millions of dollars in stocks per year, outperform the market, and receive classified briefings at the same time, it’s no wonder she defends the trading of individual stocks by Congress.

That’s why I’ve joined Senator Hawley in this fight against insider trading and introduced the Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act in the House. This legislation would prohibit Members of Congress and their spouses from holding or trading individual stocks.

It’s past time for Congress to crack down on this potential corruption and work for the American people, instead of their own wallets. I am pleased to join Senator Hawley in our fight to restore decency and truth to Washington.

No one – not even the Speaker of the House – should personally benefit from public service.

Politico: Trump considering multiple endorsements in Missouri Senate race

reports former president Donald Trump is considering making multiple endorsements in numerous GOP primaries, including the Missouri Senate race.

The article says Trump aides are touting different candidates in some races, with former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi supporting Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle supporting former governor Eric Greitens and Kellyanne Conway supporting Seventh District Congressman Billy Long.

Billy Long campaign ad claims Democrat rigged presidential election and will steal another one

In his new campaign ad, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long, one of the candidates trying to succeed Roy Blunt in the U. S. Senate, says he is campaigning to stop the insanity.

The ad indicates that is not the case. Long appears to be trying to use the insanity to gain a foothold in the race.

In the ad, Long says the following:

I was one of the first to support Donald Trump for president. He made America great.

But the Democrats rigged the election.

Now we have Biden and the far-left crazies letting inflation rise faster than an auctioneer rattling off numbers, I'm running for Senate to stop the insanity. stop the wokeness and stop the Democrats from stealing another election.

So I need your help and then we'll help Donald Trump make America great again- again.

I'm Billy Long and I approve this message.

Billy is far behind in the polls and appears to be making a desperate attempt to get Donald Trump's endorsement.