- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2020

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) - A 40-year-old medical worker at a southwestern Missouri clinic has died from COVID-19, the CEO of her company said.

Marie Brumbaugh was a medical assistant at a clinic in Branson operated by CoxHealth. CEO Steve Edwards said in a statement Wednesday that it isn’t certain how Brumbaugh caught the disease, but it may have been while she caring for a patient who was at the clinic unrelated to the coronavirus and who removed a mask briefly during treatment. That patient later tested positive for COVID-19.

Edwards said it’s also possible that Brumbaugh, who died Wednesday, contracted the disease through community spread since the virus is prevalent in Taney County, where 993 confirmed cases have been reported to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services since the start of the pandemic.

Brumbaugh “served our patients with great kindness, compassion, and honor, prioritizing the health and safety of others,” Edwards said in the statement.

Missouri is fast approaching 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The state health department on Thursday reported 1,116 new confirmed cases and 18 more deaths. All told, the state has reported 97,591 cases and 1,691 deaths since the pandemic began.

Missouri’s two largest metropolitan areas have been hit hardest by the disease and have had to put restrictions on gatherings, including sports-related ones, to try to slow its spread. With the fall sports season beginning, those restrictions are creating friction.

In the Kansas City area, the Blue Springs School District asked a judge to overturn Jackson County’s order that prohibits more than 100 spectators at sporting events. The district ignored the order when it allowed more than 400 people to watch the high school football team’s season opener on Aug. 28 against Liberty High School, the Kansas City Star reported.

The district said in a court filing that it issued four tickets to each home player, cheerleader and dance team member, and two to each member of those groups from the visiting school. The district said the crowd of 430 was still far below the football stadium’s capacity of about 5,000.

The county health department has threatened punishments that could include a ban on spectators, ordered quarantines for athletes and the revocation of concession stand licenses for the remainder of the season.

County Executive Frank White noted that the World Health Organization has recommended limiting the size of gatherings in areas as part of the effort to stop the spread of the virus.

“Yet, despite the apparent universal agreement that large public gatherings pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of our community, the Blue Springs School District has decided to sue the County in the hopes a court will allow them to have more spectators at their football games,” White said.

After new guidelines on youth sports were announced Wednesday for St. Louis County, protesters marched to the home of County Executive Sam Page to vent because they felt the guidelines were still too restrictive.

The new guidelines removed some restrictions that had been in place since August and now allow sports with little or no direct contact to be played, including cross-country, tennis, golf and swimming. However, they don’t allow games in high-contact sports such as football, basketball and hockey but they allow groups of 30 or fewer to practice such sports.

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