KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A growing protest movement against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus reached Kansas City Monday, with between 75 and 100 people attending a rally to demand that the orders be lifted.
The event near the city’s Country Club Plaza followed similar protests that began across the country last week, with some drawing much larger crowds.
Some people stood nearby the protesters in medical garb to support the orders, which require people to stay home except for essential business and ban gatherings of more than 10 people.
The protesters waved signs and U.S. flags and yelled their belief that the orders are unnecessary, are damaging the economy and violate the rights of U.S. citizens.
Another protest that had urged people to show up at City Hall and disrupt traffic and business there fizzled, with fewer than a dozen people showing up.
Government and health officials argue that the orders are necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced last week that he was extending the city’s stay-at-home order until May 15.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has issued a stay-at-home order through May 3 but he said last week the state plans to take steps to reopen the economy the next day.
STATE BUDGET CUTS
Parson on Monday announced another $47 million in state budget cuts to ensure Missouri has the cash on hand needed to fight the coronavirus.
The biggest restrictions were about $23 million from K-12 schools and school busing, although those cuts appear to be negated by more than $208 million in federal aid slated to go to Missouri schools.
Earlier this month Parson cut roughly $175 million, much of which came from colleges and universities.
UNIVERSITY BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENTS
Universities across the state began announcing plans Monday for dealing with steep budget cuts caused by the coronavirus.
Washington University in St. Louis told employees Monday that it expects to furlough about 1,300 employees without pay for 90-day periods in response to budget difficulties caused by the coronarvirus pandemic.
The university said most of the furloughs in May, June and July would come from the Medical Campus, where clinics are seeing 60% fewer patients and the medical school expects a $150 million revenue loss through the end of the fiscal year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The University of Missouri also sent a letter Monday warning its staff and employees that layoffs, furloughs and reorganizations rare likely because of a planned 12.5 percent budget cut on the Columbia campus. Because of uncertainty over state funding and enrollment, more actions may be necessary after the fiscal year begins July 1, according to the letter.
And employees of the University of Missouri-Kansas City were told in an email Monday that furloughs and layoffs are possible after all academic departments and administrative units were told to reduce their budgets by between 12.5% and 17.5%, KCUR reported.
Officials with the University of Missouri System warned last week that the spread of COVID-19 could cost the system’s four campuses up to $180 million.
Missouri Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said a vendor that provided the state with about 101,000 faulty KN95 protective masks refunded the state the roughly $8.3 million it paid. Karsten said the masks didn’t fit properly.
MISSOURI DEATH/CASE STATISTICS
As of Monday, Missouri has recorded 199 deaths and 5,807 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Pinnacle Healthcare Systems has reported it plans to layoff about 125 employees at its Kansas and Missouri facilities and close several of its operations in the two states. The Overland Park, Kansas-based company filed for bankruptcy in February.
In a filing April 10 with the state of Missouri, Pinnacle’s trustee said disruptions caused to surgeries and business operations caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to the decision to close hospitals in Overland Park, Kansas, and Boonville, Missouri, the company’s administrative offices in Overland Park and seven Blue Valley Surgical Associates Clinics in Kansas and Missouri.
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