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COVID-19 claims life of assistant Jackson County prosecutor

A 32-year-old assistant prosecutor in the Kansas City area has died from the coronavirus.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said on Twitter that JoEllen Engelbart died Saturday.

“Jo valiantly fought Covid but lost that battle today,” Baker wrote. “Jo was a lovely person. She was joyful, smart, so kind, happy without appearing to try and always volunteering. If you knew her, you would love her like I do.”

Engelbart is among 5,562 Missourians who have died from COVID-19. The state passed the 400,000 mark in confirmed cases over the weekend, and added another 1,196 cases Monday, bringing the total to 402,957. The state reported no new deaths Monday.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Lisa Cox said Monday’s numbers may have been affected by limited reporting from counties due to the New Year’s holiday. She said data on Tuesday “should give us a better, more accurate view of case, deaths and hospitalizations.”

While many hospitals across Missouri remain dangerously crowded with COVID-19 patients, the numbers have stabilized enough in recent weeks that St. Louis County on Monday allowed indoor dining to start again, albeit with restrictions.

Bars and restaurants in Missouri’s largest county, with a population of 1 million, had been limited to outdoor dining and carryout since an order issued Nov. 17 amid a big spike in coronavirus cases.

Under the new order, capacity is limited to 25%. Another provision requires the establishments to maintain records of a customer’s name and contact information in case contact tracing becomes necessary. That provision has drawn criticism from some, including Republican County Councilman Tim Fitch.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, Democratic County Executive Sam Page said he expects only “rare” instances where diners refuse to give their contact information.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson has declined to implement mandatory measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, but St. Louis city and county, Kansas City and Jackson County and several other counties across the state have implemented their own requirements.

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