The coronavirus is affecting nearly aspect of live as Texas County residents work to avoid crowds, which officials said is key to preventing more cases. None has been reported in the county.

Here’s a roundup of news items communicated to the newspaper.

Have news? Email it to or phone 417-967-2000.

The Herald’s website is updated continuously throughout the day.

•The upcoming scheduled seven-week Grief Recovery Group scheduled to begin April 6 at TCMH is cancelled. Organizers hope to reschedule it later in the year.

•Houston United Methodist Church said it was cancelling its services until further notice.

•Ozarks Technical Community College closed all locations starting Friday and will remain shuttered through March 29. The college is closed to the public and only “essential” personnel and faculty are to report in preparation for online learning March 30.

•The Missouri Department of Conservation closed its nature centers, visitor centers and education centers around the state to visitors effective Thursday. The indoor facilities will be closed to the public through April 15 and MDC will reassess the situation at that point. Nature center trails remain open.

•American Legion Post 41 in Houston has cancelled its second annual Armed Forces Appreciation Day, set for Saturday, May 16, at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds. 

•All Missouri municipal elections previously scheduled for April 7 will be postponed to June 2. An executive order signed by Gov. Mike Parson declares that ballots already printed for the April 7 election may be used at the postponed date of June 2. Voters who have attained the age of 18 by April 7 will be allowed to cast a ballot. 

•County school update: Cabool will be closed through Friday, April 3. That extends to all extra- and co-curricular activities, athletic competitions, practices, music and after-school programs and events. 

•Houston Head Start will be closed through April 5. Class is set to resume April 6 but is subject to change at any time, officials said. 


Persons at-risk of carrying COVID-19 are barred from entering the county courthouses/justice centers in Phelps, Pulaski, Texas and Maries counties under protocols detailed within an administrative order issued Monday by 25th Circuit Presiding Judge William E. Hickle. The order states those meeting the following criteria are not allowed within the courthouse:

—Persons who have traveled to any foreign country within the last 14 days.

—Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has traveled to any foreign country within the last 14 days.

—Persons who have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

—Persons with unexplained fever, cough or shortness of breath.

—The order states those attempting to enter the justice center in violation of the protocols will be denied entry by a court security officer. Individuals not authorized to enter because of the protocols and who need remote access to the administration of justice should contact their county’s circuit clerk’s office. The Texas County Circuit Court’s Office is 417-967-3742.

Hickle said the order is being made in compliance with CDC recommendations and special instructions from the Supreme Court of Missouri. The administrative order’s language is modeled off a similar order issued in St. Louis County with input also provided by the Supreme Court of Missouri.

•‪School testing has been cancelled across the state and the county’s seven school districts.  “There is a time and a place for statewide required assessments and now is not the time. Effective immediately, Missouri will be cancelling statewide required assessments for this school year,” said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.

•Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced Missouri State Parks will temporarily close visitor centers, park offices and site offices to walk-in foot traffic through April 30. The closures were effective Friday.

•Starting Thursday, March 19, Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. until further notice. This will help ensure workers can clean and stock products.  

•One of the largest churches in the region, Faith Fellowship,  said it would cancel services until school resumes or the local medical professionals feel the threat for transmitting COVID-19 has passed. It will provide online ministries. 

•The Cabool City Council cancelled its meeting on Monday. 

•Texas County Memorial Hospital closed its cafeteria Friday to the public, but it will continue to operate for employees.

•Ozark National Scenic Riverways made modifications to operations. As of last Friday, park information, brochures and souvenir passport stamps will be provided under the covered porch on the Visitor Information Center at park headquarters in Van Buren. Public entry into the facility is limited, but park rangers will be available by phone at 573-323-4236, ext. 0, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.  The park’s bookstore, which is managed by America’s National Parks Store, has also suspended operations.

•Any member of the Drury community – students, staff, faculty – who are returning from spring break trips and other travel, should not return to campus. 

•The Texas County Library system is closed until April 6.

•Job centers at Poplar Bluff and West Plains are closing to the public. Staff will continue to work with clients by telephone, email or mail. Persons can call 800-728-5627 or go online to to access resources. Citizens seeking unemployment insurance are directed to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relation’s hotline, 800-320-2519 or visit

•Mercy announced last week it is postponing non-urgent imaging services in compliance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American College of Radiology. Beginning Monday, the following scheduled cases were postponed:

•Screening Mammography

•CT Lung Cancer Screening

•Non-urgent CT

•Non-urgent MRI


•Plain film X-ray exams

•All other non-emergent or elective Radiologic and Imaging Guidance Exams or Procedures

“This decision was not taken lightly but is necessary to safeguard our patients and co-workers from exposure while also helping our hospitals preserve personal protective equipment,” Mercy said in a press release.

Mercy will begin contacting patients as their cases become eligible for postponement.

•Organizers of Carry the Cross in Texas County said because of COVID-19 there will be no rally on Good Friday. Participants should go directly to their location. “Remember to stand in a safe location and a safe distance from the highway,” according to a statement.

• The Missouri Department of Conservation announced it will close regional offices, including this area’s at West Plains, headquarters in Jefferson City and all other public contact offices around the state to visitors starting Monday, March 23, through April 15. While MDC public offices will be closed to general visitation, offices will still be staffed. Visitors with official business will need to notify the office to gain access. Find MDC office contact information at

Many Texas County churches cancelled worship services Sunday, moving to an online service or holding gatherings outside. Some of the largest churches are opting to go online at their websites, including Faith Fellowship and First Baptist Church in Houston. Souls Harbor Family Worship met at Houston’s drive-in theater on Highway B.

Have news? Email it to or phone 417-967-2000.

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