In a weekend normally filled with Easter egg hunts, family brunches and large church gatherings, Missouri sat in an eerie stillness under its ongoing statewide stay-at-home order Saturday as the state added 225 new cases of the coronavirus and 13 deaths.


"I’m preparing to deliver a sermon on Easter Sunday as usual," Kevin Larson, lead pastor at Karis Church in Columbia, said Saturday afternoon. Karis Church has largely moved to online ministry due to virus concerns and will be livestreaming its Easter service Sunday morning on YouTube. "So there’s some continuity there, even if there’s some discontinuity from what we’ve done in the past."


Many churches are offering parishioners livestreaming options so they can observe Easter on televisions, smart phones and computers. Others are sending worshipers to drive-in movie theaters for services.


"We’d never livestreamed before," Larson said. "To be honest, we haven’t really valued trying to make it flawless. We’ve tried to keep things simple. We’re able to do most things via Zoom or FaceTime. "


Gathering restrictions have created conflicts with state and local authorities. Kansas lawmakers on Wednesday threw out an order by the governor that limited church gatherings to 10 people. A Georgia church where more than 30 people congregated inside a small building on Palm Sunday, prompting a visit from state troopers, plans to move forward with normal Easter worship.


"As you look at scripture, you see very clear commands to obey civic authority," Larson said of Karis Church’s decision to not attempt to gather in person right now. "If Christianity is about anything, it’s about not just thinking about yourself, but thinking about the people around you."


Around the state, stadiums were lit in shades of blue to honor and thank health care workers and first responders for their efforts during the pandemic. Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums in Kansas City were lit blue, as was the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.


High school football stadiums across the country are turning on their stadium lights as an inspiration for 2020 seniors whose final school year was cut short. Columbia high schools, including Rock Bridge, Battle and Hickman, took part, lighting stadiums up at 8:20 p.m., or 20:20, on Friday to honor seniors. The lights will stay on each Friday night for 20 minutes and 20 seconds until the end of the regular school year in May.


"CPS is working on alternative plans (for other senior activities) and will communicate those as soon as they are finalized," Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark wrote Friday in an email to families.


Confirmed cases in the state surpassed 4,000 to 4,024 Saturday, and total deaths due to the disease stood at 109.


Boone County’s confirmed case count rose to 76 on Saturday, according to county officials, with 11 active cases, a rise from the eight active cases reported Friday. Twenty-four cases were by community transmission.


Cooper County recorded its fourth case Friday, the county announced. A resident who tested positive for COVID-19 briefly visited the Boonville Walmart at noon Monday, the county health center announced Friday. The center is investigating any close contacts the patient possibly had to monitor for symptoms and virus containment.


Randolph County’s case count sat at eight, while Callaway County’s was 20. Audrain County continued reporting no confirmed cases.


Springfield’s Greene County logged 71 cases on the state report, no change from Friday’s total.


State data continued to indicate the most serious outbreak has taken place in St. Louis County, with 1,568 total cases, up about 70 cases from the day before. The city of St. Louis had 585 cases, and outlying St. Charles County had 320.


At least 49 state-licensed residential care facilities have reported outbreaks. The Department of Health and Senior Services as well as officials in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis have refused to confirm COVID-19 outbreaks at homes for older adults, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, citing federal privacy laws.


On the other side of the state, Kansas City had 298 cases, and Jackson County outside the city had 208.


Even now, the numbers could very well be incomplete, as state numbers can only track confirmed cases that were tested.


Testing is set to pause at many locations in the state on Sunday. MU Health Care and Boone Hospital Center’s testing sites will be closed for the holiday.


The Missouri Hospital Association said Friday that revenues at Missouri hospitals have fallen by half due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying hospitals may be losing $32 million daily, the Springfield News-Leader reported.


"Hospital staffing is approximately half of the cost of operations," said Dave Dillon, Missouri Hospital Association vice president for public relations. "At the same time — despite the fact that we may be in the calm before the (coronavirus) storm — utilization is down in general."


Springfield’s two hospital systems recently furloughed some employees and reassigned others.


Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed a supplemental budget bill allocating nearly $6 billion in federal stimulus money to fight the health and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.


The money will be used to purchase additional personal protective equipment for first responders, help develop medical facilities beyond traditional hospitals, and provide aid to hard-hit local governments, Parson said during a news conference. He also announced he was establishing a working group led by state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick to help decide how the money will be spent. Both Parson and Fitzpatrick are Republicans.


Parson held no virtual press briefing Saturday. His next briefing will be on Monday.


National numbers took a grim turn Saturday as the United States surpassed Italy to secure the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak with over 20,000 reported deaths, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University’s database. Now the epicenter of the world’s virus outbreak, the country must grapple with the risks that accompany easing regulations – as Texas announced it might be doing next week – even as case numbers continue to climb.


Still, Larson, like many other worship leaders in Missouri, is preparing a message of hope for his church.


"It’s intimidating and hard," he said. "What we’re going through is unprecedented for our age ... but the background (of the virus) makes what’s in the foreground (of the Gospel) much more relevant.


"When we are able to be together again, it’s gonna be insane. It’s gonna be beautiful."


Gannett Missouri regional reporter Charles Dunlap and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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