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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Missouri To Spend $30 Million For Short-Term COVID Patient Treatment

 Gov. Mike Parson announces funding for help health care providers treat COVID-19 patients.
Jonathan Ahl
St. Louis Public Radio
Gov. Mike Parson announces funding for help health care providers treat COVID-19 patients.

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson is authorizing $30 million for additional efforts to treat COVID-19 patients as the delta variant continues to spread throughout the state.

Half of the money, which is coming from federal coronavirus relief funding, will go toward additional staffing at hospitals that are near or at capacity. Depending on their size, hospitals can receive up to $200,000 to hire contract health care staff to help tend to patients.

Parson said Wednesday he has been assured by health care staffing companies that properly trained people are available for the contract work.

“We feel pretty confident right now that we are going to be able to get those extra bodies in here in short fashion,” Parson said. “So we hope to have that in place in a very short period of time.”

Hospitals around the state have indicated their intensive care units and total patient beds are at or near capacity because of COVID patients.

The other half of the money will be used to set up five sites around the state to administer antibodies to treat COVID patients who are at high risk of needing hospitalization, including the elderly or those with underlying conditions.

“The treatments would have to be administered before they would see severe illness,” said Robert Knodell, the acting director of the state department of Health and Senior Services. “So they are referred, typically by a physician, to have that treatment taken. And my understanding is it takes, for an individual, about three hours.”

Parson also said the state’s vaccine incentive program is working, with 200,000 Missourians having started the vaccination process since the program was unveiled.

About 50% of the state’s residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

The drawing for the first $10,000 winner will be held Friday.


Parson also announced Wednesday that Dru Buntin will be the new director of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Buntin has been deputy director since 2017 and has more than 15 years' experience with the state DNR and 20 years in Missouri government.

Buntin says his top priorities are helping to continue collaborative infrastructure improvements at the state’s parks and conservation areas, and seeking more funding opportunities for the department.

Buntin replaces Carol Comer, who died in June.

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Jonathan is the General Manager of Tri States Public radio. His duties include but are not limited to, managing all facets of the station, from programming to finances to operations. Jonathan grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. He has a B.A in music theory and composition from WIU and a M.A in Public Affairs Reporting from The University of Illinois at Springfield. Jonathan began his journey in radio as a student worker at WIUM. While in school Jonathan needed a summer job on campus. He heard WIUM was hiring, and put his bid in. Jonathan was welcomed on the team and was very excited to be using his music degree. He had also always been interested in news and public radio. He soon learned he was a much better reporter than a musician and his career was born. While at WIUM, Jonathan hosted classical music, completed operations and production work, was a news reporter and anchor, and served as the stage manager for Rural Route 3. Jonathan then went to on to WIUS in Springfield where he was a news anchor and reporter covering the state legislature for Illinois Public Radio. After a brief stint in commercial radio and TV, Jonathan joined WCBU in Peoria, first in operations then as a news reporter and for the last ten years of his time there he served as the News Director. Jonathan’s last job before returning to Tri States Public Radio was as the News Director/ Co-Director of Content for Iowa Public Radio. During Jonathan’s off time he enjoys distance running, playing competitive Scrabble, rooting for Chicago Cubs, listening to all kinds of music and reading as much as he can. He lives in Macomb with his wife Anita and children Tommy and Lily.
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