After CDC names new COVID-19 symptoms, local expert offers advice for when to get tested

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added new symptoms to look for if you believe you have the coronavirus.

And a local infectious disease doctor has advice for how to know if you’re sick and when to get tested.

RELATED: CDC reveals six more symptoms to look for if you suspect you have COVID-19

Wendy McDermott is just happy to be alive. The Raytown woman came down with COVID-19 on April 1. She said the symptoms were no joke.

“I had a fever that we contained under 100 with Tylenol,” McDermott said. “I had shaking and chills and fever. I had a ridiculous amount of fatigue. Like I was sleeping like 18 hours a day.”

Previously, cough, fever and shortness of breath were what they looked for.

Now, chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of smell are included on the CDC’s list of symptoms. 

“There’s a constellation of symptoms, and not one of them itself is diagnostic, but we need to take in the whole constellation of symptoms and how the person is doing to really understand and then evaluate if we need to test for COVID-19,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System.

Hawkinson said a headache alone probably doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. However, if you have more than a few on the list, it’s something to look at.

“I think overall this disease process has showed us that we have really moved in terms of light years as far as identifying an illness, and then identifying, testing, and hopefully possible therapeutics and vaccination. But it still is going to take some time,” Hawkinson said.

He said making more testing available and antibody testing will help understand the virus more over time.

McDermott is just glad for her the virus is over.

“I did not expect that I would be one to get it,” McDermott said. “I really didn’t. I felt like I was doing the right things, but I did. But I’m on the other side, and I feel great now.”

Blue Springs siblings start weekly newscast to spread happiness during pandemic

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — Original Post

FOX4 has a new competitor on the airwaves.

A Blue Springs brother and sister created their newscast for a class project, but it’s quickly become a passion for the pair.

The show starts with the words “Rosie’s News” spinning on the screen. You can hear the professional upbeat music underneath the thought-out graphic.

“Welcome back to Rosie News. Today is April 22nd, 2020,” the little girl says, sitting at a desk in her bedroom, a stuffed unicorn by her side with carefully selected positive symbols and signs hanging on the wall behind her.

Rosie De Los Reyes is Kansas City’s newest and youngest news anchor. She’s also quite a weather girl.

“Friday will be one rainy day, so get your umbrellas ready!” she exclaimed as she opened her umbrella on camera.

The 7-year-old loves science and had to do a weather journal for class. Her 13-year-old brother Sebastian thought — let’s take this project to the next level.

Their first newscast was mostly just a weather report with a lot of dancing, but the next two newscasts showed significant production value: graphics, music, lighting and stories.

In their latest report, you can see Rosie standing outside her house under her umbrella in the rain for her report. She said it’s raining cats and dogs as stuffed animals fly at her with accompanying sound effects.

“We usually end up coming up with the script the day before,” Sebastian said. “But I started ordering stuff. I already ordered a green screen. It’s on the way. So we’re going to have her in a studio.”

The pair said their weekly produced newscasts are helping them get through a hard time. They use the report to discuss the coronavirus and thank first responders.

“Gov. Parson of Missouri has canceled all Missouri schools until August. Noooooo!” Rosie reported from her news desk.

“People like it. I mean, they say keep on going. You rock,” Sebastian said. “We get a lot of nice comments like that. It makes me feel pretty nice. It makes me feel encouraged. Makes me want to keep on going.”

“I just want to spread happiness,” Rosie said.

Sebastian made sure there’s even a Rosie News drone helping the pair get accurate weather reports from the air.

“As you can see it’s a bit chilly, but the skies are clear. Take it away pilot!” Rosie narrated over Sebastian’s drone-work above their Blue Springs neighborhood.

Their mom, Tatiana Buitrago, said she’s impressed not only at their production but is also grateful they’re working together.

“We have people like from all over watching it, and they keep encouraging them: ‘Good job, keep it up. We can’t wait for next week to see what you come up with,’” Buitrago said.

Rosie News airs each Wednesday on Facebook. Sebastian posts their videos onto the Blue Springs Community Awareness Facebook page.

Even without coronavirus, some say it doesn’t hurt to give others space

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Social distancing is changing the way we interact, but what happens when the pandemic passes?

A hug and a handshake are ways we’ve always interacted, but with COVID-19 many are stepping back to give others space.

Now, two Kansas Citians are looking forward to see how our social landscape may be different.

Carol Winner, who works as a public health specialist, started the movement “Give Space.” It’s inspired by her late mother, Charline, who was immunocompromised for decades.

Give Space is accompanied by the image of a peach, which Winner said signifies a sensitive layer on the outside.

“Germ and touch can be very harmful, and there’s so many other ways we can show we care,” Winner said. “Giving space is a kind message with the beautiful peach symbol that defines your personal space boundary. That this is my personal space, and I decide who can come into that space, and how I engage with other people.”

Space isn’t just when we are with our family and friends, but in the workplace as well.

Clyde McQueen runs the Full Employment Council in Kansas City. They work with the Department of Labor to help people find work through the metro and receive training to improve their skills.

“We have had to change our way of doing business in the last 34 years, overnight in five days,” McQueen said.

He said finding a job will look a lot different. Zoom interviews may be more common and moving toward a mostly online process.

“What we must do in lieu of shaking hands is look people in the eye, be affirming of their presence,” McQueen said. “So when you’re talking to someone you have to affirm that they are with you at least by looking at them.”

Winner said you can do this by using a symbol or communicating your needs to the person around you.

“I’m hoping that people will recognize it without conversation — take a step back,” Winner said. “It’s kind. It’s a beautiful symbol, and we can change the way we show we care.”

If you are interested in learning more about Give Space, you can visit their website.

Gladstone funeral director heads to New York to help families devastated by COVID-19

GLADSTONE, Mo. — Original Post

First responders are on the front lines of the pandemic; however, last responders are right there as well.

That’s why a Gladstone funeral director is headed to New York, hoping to ease the state’s need for those in her occupation.

Nicole Giarratana, a funeral director with White Chapel, said helping families navigate this tragedy is her goal.

“It is very hard to say goodbye to your loved ones and start the true process of grieving this way,” she said.

On Tuesday, Giarratana flew from KCI for Staten Island. She’ll spend two weeks helping families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 make their final arrangements.

“The difference it’s going to be, being thrown into something that no one’s experiencing,” Giarratana said. “I know the funeral directors. They’re saying this is worse than 9/11. It’s nothing like they’ve ever seen.”

She said around 60 White Chapel funeral directors from across the country are working in rotations to keep plans moving and help families as fast as they can.

“I’m happy to help out. It’s essentially, I always — it’s part of a team at White Chapel warrior, a team there and it’s me going to help, you know, another team,” Giarratana said.

“And in the broad spectrum, we’re all on the same team with our first responders, our essential workers. We’re all doing this together. So I’ve just taken my role out and I’m going to help.”

Giarratana said families are able to live stream services on Facebook if they want to do the service quickly, or they can make arrangements in advance for once stay-at-home orders are lifted.

“Another thing that we are doing is providing Facebook live services,” Giarratana said. “So that is another way that your family across the nation or even in the same town that are not able to be part of that 10 people can be able to tune in and watch the service on your website at all.”

She said she understands the work she’s doing is important, but knows she’s not alone. There are countless people working just as hard to help everyone get through the pandemic.

“The outpouring of support is incredible. It’s — you can get emotional about it,” Giarratana said. “So what I would encourage everyone to do is still support all your first responders, your health care workers, your essential workers, your fast food workers. Just keep supporting them cause it really does help.”

Once Giarratana returns from Staten Island, she will quarantine for two weeks at home to ensure she hasn’t come into contact with the virus herself.

Missouri’s self-employed workers can now apply for unemployment benefits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

If you’re self-employed, you can now apply for unemployment benefits in Missouri.

For thousands across the state, staying home means shutting down. Normally, unemployment benefits are out of reach for the self-employed.

But two gig workers told FOX4 they’re grateful for the opportunity to file now, even if it’s not the simplest process. 

Rebecca Lassiter runs her own photography studio. 

“I’m going to try to do that today,” Lassiter said. “I started the process two days ago and just stopped because it’s so frustrating.”

Jason Falen is known through Kansas City as DJ Hydan.

“I’ll tell you what, it’s really confusing,” Falen said.”Especially as a self-employed gig worker when you go to file. It’s not, it’s not like set up and designed for, for somebody like me or a self-employed gig worker. It’s just, it’s really confusing.”

Both are out of work and trying to stay busy. They said filing through the state’s website hasn’t been easy.

“I think the process needs to be a little bit more cut and dry,” Falen said. “I think it’s definitely very confusing. All of us DJs and gig workers have been trying to communicate and work together on this and try to figure out what to do, and we’re all in the dark here. We really have no idea.”

The recently approved CARES Act makes it possible for Lassiter, Falen and countless other self-employed workers to qualify for pandemic unemployment insurance.

Missouri’s Department of Labor says the self-employed can receive up to $320 per week along with a one-time $600 federal supplement. They would only be eligible for assistance from March 29 to July 25.

Lassiter and Falen said the money will help, but they really want to work.

“It’ll be everything,” Lassiter said. “I’ll be sustainable again. I’ll be working my business, and I’ll be exhausted from working so much again.”

“We just need to hunker down still,” Falen said. “We’re going to be through this before we know it. If we all just do our part — and everybody needs to do their part — and we’ll be back to normal hopefully no time.”

Lassiter said she wants the thousands of people across the state, and millions nationwide, to know that they aren’t alone.

“This is nothing to be embarrassed about,” Lassiter said. “We’re all in this, the photography community specifically. Everyone is talking about unemployment: When is the right time to file, how to file? What loans are out there? Joining a network like that has been encouraging to see that I’m not in this alone and you’re not in this alone.”

In Kansas, self-employed workers will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits eventually. According to the state’s Department of Labor, it’s working on a program to distribute benefits to the self-employed.

The Masked Teacher: KC educator making distance learning fun with crazy costumes each day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

You’ve heard of “The Masked Singer,” but have you heard of the masked teacher? One Kansas City educator is making distance learning fun and entertaining. 

Wednesday nights on FOX4, who’s under the mask is always a mystery, but for Mrs. Galoyan’s fifth grade class, they always know who’s under the costume. The Union Chapel Elementary School teacher decided to get creative in a way both kids and parents love.

“They are super fun. Almost every night we discussed what she was for the day, and I get on Facebook to see it. Back last night we were scrolling through all the pictures just to see what she was going to be,” mom Carissa Hubbard said. 

“She just, she’s very special and we love her … Her costumes are just the icing on the cake with her,” mom Jodie Gerken said. 

Each day on Zoom, Galoyan has a new persona like Katy Perry, the Easter Bunny and even Poppy the troll. She said a lot of people ask her how far she’s going to take this.

“I get that question a lot. Like what are you doing? Well, this is stressful for everybody, especially kids,” Galoyan said. “So I tried to just come up with something that, that’s actually pretty easy for me. I put on a hat, a wig, a mask of some sort, and I just rummage through and pick something each day just so they have something to look forward to.”

Her co-teacher, Bekha Embrey, said it helps the kids stay engaged, and they learn through the costumes as well.

“Yesterday, she was dressed up as a Viking,” Embrey said. “So we talked about Neanderthals and how like they descended from the Northern part of Europe, and Vikings were part of the Neanderthal family. And then we’ve had them go research.”

Traditional school may be closed, but Mrs. Galoyan wants to make sure fifth grade is a year to remember.

“I hope that they remember their fifth grade teacher as, ‘Wow, I remember that time in 2020 when the coronavirus happened and we had to all Zoom,’” Galoyan said. “‘Well at least Mrs. Galoyan kept it fun by dressing up and being silly each day.’”

Galoyan said she plans to keep the costumes going all the way through the end of the school year.

Local centers collecting plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients to help others

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Plasma donations might be a key in helping people recover from the coronavirus.

On Monday, the FDA cleared the way for the treatment of people suffering from COVID-19 using plasma.

Centers across the state are starting to collect from people who already caught the virus.

The Community Blood Center of Kanas City is one location that’s asking for the public’s help to collect donations for hospitals across the metro to use. Dr. Jed Gorlin with the organization said plasma helps patients by building antibodies.

“If we can get plasma into somebody before they have a chance to make their own antibodies,” Gorlin said, “maybe it will give them a jump start on fighting off infection — or at least that’s the hope.”

The center started taking applications Wednesday, and if you would like to help, you need to sign up online.

Candidates should have already recovered from COVID-19, and not shown any symptoms in 14 days. You will need to provide documentation of a positive test from the time of your diagnosis.

If selected, you can donate plasma like you normally would with social distancing guidelines put in place.

“We do that by having time between appointments and space between donors,” Gorlin said. “And so by having those fixed appointments, that allows us to safely collect the donor, and you still get a good cookie.”

The American Red Cross Blood Services is also offering resources to donate. They don’t have a donation location in Kansas City but can direct you were is best to go. They’re also working with outside organizations to make sure people who want to donate can.

“If there are people who have recovered from COVID-19, please fill out that online form, and we’ll be in touch and hopefully they meet the requirements,” said Joe Zydlo with the American Red Cross. “We can get them in there to help someone in the community who needs it.”

“If we can provide at least some antibodies before your own body could make them,” Gorlin said, “it’s just giving you a few days head start on beating up, you know, beating the virus back off.”

If you would like more information on how to donate plasma through the Red Cross, you can learn more here.

KC police, even commissioners and recruits, adapting to challenges of COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Eight members of the Kansas City Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of them are academy recruits.

With dozens in quarantine, the department says it’s having to get creative.

The department’s monthly Police Commissioners meeting is normally held at KCPD headquarters and open to the public. This month, due to the pandemic, the public meeting was streamed live on Facebook.

“I hope this format is short lived for everybody’s sake,” one commissioner said at the beginning of the feed.

KCPD spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said the meeting was unlike any before, and they’re doing a lot of things differently.

“It was the most unique one we’ve had maybe in our department’s history,” Becchina said. “We’re adapting, and we’re overcoming. We’re having creative solutions present themselves every day to problems we thought we’d never have.”

While eight employees have contracted the virus, 65 others are quarantined for interacting with them or others.

“Four of our eight positive members are non-sworn members, which means they’re not law enforcement officers, and three of those four are academy recruits that were in the more senior of the two current classes that we have going on right now,” Becchina said.

The KCPD Police Academy is currently closed to in-person education. The students who are able are doing distance learning.

The state requires the minimum of 600 hours to become a peace officer. However, KCPD’s academy puts recruits through 1,200 hours to graduate, so Becchina said they’re more than prepared for the job.

Their last graduation was in January. Officer Justin Selig graduated at the top of his class. He never imagined just a month and a half after graduation the world would be a different place.

“There’s definitely a level of fear there because I don’t want to get either of my kids or my wife sick,” Selig said. “But my wife is a nurse. She’s an essential employee, too. We want to help our community out.”

While the pandemic concerns him, Selig said he’s passionate about his job and conscious about being safe.

“There’s a lot of what-ifs. I think you could think that way about getting in a car wreck or getting injured in any other way,” Selig said. “You just have to be smart, use your common sense, use the tools that are provided to you, and do your best to stay on top of washing your hands with something like this or sanitizing everything.”

“This whole generation will remember this coronavirus, this COVID-19,” Becchina said. “This pandemic that we’re in, it’s going to be a defining moment. Such that 9/11 was a defining moment for law enforcement around that time.”

Becchina said all of their diagnosed employees are recovering, and none are in the hospital. This round of police recruits are expected to graduate on time, even those who contracted COVID-19.

The department is accepting masks and no-contact thermometers. If you would like to donate, call the non-emergency line to find out how to get them to the department.

‘I’ve been in much tougher situations’: Local World War II veteran battling coronavirus

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Original Post

A 99-year-old World War II veteran is fighting the coronavirus in a Johnson County hospital.

On Friday, the war hero was taken to the hospital with symptoms. Now, Max Deweese is working toward recovery at St. Luke’s South Hospital.

“This has been tough, but I’ve been in much tougher situations,” Deweese said.

The Marine is fighting COVID-19, but he also fought in Japan and earned two Purple Hearts during his service.

Paul Chapa is the leader of F.I.S.H., Friends in Service of Heroes. He and Max have been friends for years, and he’s supporting him through his fight.

“Max is one of those guys from our greatest generation that is just so resilient,” Chapa said. “He’ll never ask for help. The guy last year was still shooting his age in golf.”

Before Deweese was taken to the hospital, Chapa heard he was in quarantine and wanted to cheer him up. He and a friend visited him outside his care facility.

“We went out there with a Semper Fidelis sign. Semper Fi, Marine,” Chapa said. “The Marine Care flag, and he was just so happy. We could see him up in the window, and he was waving at us and talking to us on his phone.”

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer friend,” Deweese said. “He’s done a lot for me. I’ve done a lot with him, and people like him are not easy to find.”

Chapa said even though Deweese is struggling, he still enjoys talking on the phone and staying positive.

“Max is doing wonderful. His spirits are always high,” Chapa said. “For someone that’s 99 years old, this guy — you would never think it when you talk to him on the phone or meet him in person because he has so much energy, and he’s so sharp.”

Even in the hospital, Max said he feels awful, but he will win the battle against the virus.

“I have been well-watched over by the good lord, or I wouldn’t be here today,” Deweese said.

Chapa said when Max beats it, he will have a new medal to add to his collection. F.I.S.H. is working on a special one to go next to his Purple Hearts.

Local small business owners find support though loans, especially each other

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

The Small Business Administration says its loan application numbers are exploding.

Last year the SBA had 60,000 applications, and in March of 2020 they had 500,000 alone.

Small business are struggling, but one local woman came up with a creative way to keep makers making money in the metro.

RELATED: Some small businesses struggle to apply for Paycheck Protection while others cash checks

“Welcome to the first episode of Meet the Maker!” Katie Mabry van Dieren said on a Facebook live from her Strawberry Swing page.

The Swing usually brings around 150 makers together for the ultimate indie shopping experience, but now they’re all online.

“Bear with us, and have #COVID grace,” Mabry van Dieren said. “I thought, ‘Why not do an online QVC-style shopping where you meet the maker and they’ll show us their studio and the stuff that they have for sale?’”

She’ll showcase three makers each week and has all of them on her website ShoplocalKC.com. For her first episode she featured colorbloKCWasteland Society, and Tucker and Scout.

Mabry van Dieren said a lot of the makers are being hit hard by the COVD-19 pandemic, and some may be considering applying for a SBA loan.

“That is a big thing we’re discussing on our — we have some maker pages that we all talk back and forth,” Mabry van Dieren said. “We’re all trying to navigate those waters together and figure out what everything means.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Small Business Administration loan applications skyrocketed in March.

Dawn Cramer, a financial advisor with Cramer Capitol Management, said many of her business clients are struggling with what to do and have applied for loans.

Cramer said when applying for government loans or through a large bank, they can find themselves lost on a waiting list.

“It’s crazy. It’s really alarming,” Cramer said. “It’s one of those things that I think everybody just needs to be patient. I think if you deal with a small local bank. Your chances of getting through a little quicker.”

She said the best thing you can do is be patient because sources like the SBA are overwhelmed.

“Staying on top of it. Contacting your bankers. Making sure they’ve got confirmation numbers on everything, and just being patient is really the big thing,” Cramer said.

Cramer said thinking of ways for business owners to do something different, like Mabry van Dieren, will help them get through this health crisis.

“I think it’s genius. I think it’s a time where we all have to think outside of the box,” Cramer said. ‘We can be victims of what’s happening, or victors and look out there and try and see what we can do different.”

She said the market is still strong, and when people can, they’ll go back to making money and spending it like they did before.

Until then, Mabry van Dieren will keep swinging for small businesses on Facebook Live. She said when they’re all back together, it will be a celebration.

“It’s going to be the best because it is such a wonderful community,” Mabry van Dieren said. “Everyone who comes and attends the Swing wants to support the arts, and then having us all together — there’s supposed to be 149 of us that are supposed to be in the Spring Swing, so having that group together again is going to be so fun!”

And for those looking, several makers listed on ShopLocalKC.com make hand sanitizer as well.