Sarah Fentem

Sarah Fentem reports on sickness and health as part of St. Louis Public Radio’s news team. She previously spent five years reporting for different NPR stations in Indiana, immersing herself deep, deep into an insurance policy beat from which she may never fully recover. A longitme NPR listener, she grew up hearing WQUB in Quincy, Illinois, which is now owned by STLPR. She lives in the Kingshighway Hills neighborhood, and in her spare time likes to watch old sitcoms, meticulously clean and organize her home and go on outdoor adventures with her fiancé Elliot. She has a cat, Lil Rock, and a dog, Ginger.

Missouri this week saw a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases, with nearly 800 people testing positive on Thursday.

The seven-day average of new cases in Missouri is nearly three times what it was a month ago. As of Thursday, about 600 new cases were diagnosed each day. 

However, during the same period, the seven-day average of daily deaths dropped by 32%.

Washington University scientists have developed a test for the coronavirus that uses a patient’s saliva instead of a sample from deep inside their nose.

A saliva-based test is easier and less taxing on patients, which means they could seek tests more often and eventually test themselves. It is also cheaper because it doesn’t require as many materials as other coronavirus tests,  the researchers said.

The Missouri Department of Social Services must pay Planned Parenthood for providing care for Medicaid patients, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

State lawmakers cut funding for the provider in the 2018 budget by inserting language that barred state funds, including those from the state’s Medicaid program MO HealthNet, from going to any abortion provider.

In a 6-1 decision, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed a 2019 ruling from a lower court that found the provision was an example of lawmakers using a budget bill to create policy, which is prohibited by the Missouri Constitution.

Updated at 6:50 p.m. July 1, with comments from St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlman.

St. Louis and St. Louis County will require people to wear face masks when in public to protect people from the coronavirus, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and County Executive Sam Page announced Wednesday.

The order, which takes effect at 7 a.m. Friday, is aimed at preventing the virus from spreading.

All people over age 9 will need to wear a mask or face covering when inside stores or other indoor public spaces. They will also need to wear one outside when social distancing isn’t possible. People with certain health conditions such as respiratory problems will be exempt from the requirement. 

More than 1,000 people in Missouri have died from COVID-19, according to data analyzed by St. Louis Public Radio. The state reached that grim milestone earlier this week, three months after the first person in the state died from the disease.

“Any number is significant, but it’s a sign we’re truly in a pandemic situation with 1,000 deaths,” said Dr. Bill Powderly, infectious disease chief at Washington University and director of the school’s Institute for Public Health. He said the country is still in the “first wave” of the virus. 

“We’re still in the phase where it could rapidly flare up again if we don’t remain vigilant,” he said.

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