COLUMBIA, Mo. – Leaders of the University of Missouri System are considering layoffs, unpaid leave and other ways to contain costs due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Tuesday.


University of Missouri System President Mun Choi said in a statement that major sources of funding "will remain under stress for some time to come." He said that he and system vice presidents, chancellors, deans at the four universities and other leaders are taking 10% salary cuts, effective May 1 until at least July 31.


Meanwhile, budget planners at each university are developing plans to cut up to 15%. Some budget-cutting decisions will be made by April 30, the university system said.


Help for jobless


The state of Missouri has begun issuing $600 payments to more than 115,000 unemployed workers using funds approved as part of the federal stimulus package aimed at bolstering the economy left reeling by the coronavirus.


The Missouri Division of Employment Security said Tuesday that claimants should see payments within the next few days. The state said payments that began Monday will amount to $66 million in benefits.


The congressional rescue bill added $600 a week, for a period of four months, to standard unemployment benefits.


Some recipients will have to wait. The state can't yet process unemployment claims from independent contractors and the self-employed, even though the federal government has temporarily extended benefits to those workers, St. Louis Public Radio reported.


Anna Hui, secretary of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the computer system for processing claims isn't set up to take in applications from people who don't have a direct employer. It's unclear when the system might be able to process those claims.


Parson urged patience for those waiting for payment, citing the record number of people filing for unemployment.


"We're going to get to you," Parson said during his afternoon news conference.


KC EMT dies


An emergency medical technician for the Kansas City Fire Department has died from COVID-19.


Fire Chief Donna Maize said in a news release that Billy Birmingham died Monday afternoon. He is the first city employee to die from the coronavirus. He had been with the department for 10 years and had worked as an EMT since 1998.


Missouri deaths


The number of deaths in Missouri from the coronavirus has reached 137, and the state now has 4,531 confirmed cases, according to data Tuesday from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which has been tracking COVID-19 cases worldwide.


The death total was 19 more than the Johns Hopkins website reported Monday, and confirmed cases rose by 259. Among the latest deaths were five people in St. Louis, bringing the number of deaths in the city to 24.


Plasma sought from survivors


People who have recovered from COVID-19 are being encouraged to donate plasma, which may be useful in helping other patients recover from the illness.


The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said "convalescent plasma" has been used to prevent or treat new viral diseases in the past because people who have fully recovered have antibodies that potentially work against the virus.


Eligible donors must be 18 or older, free of symptoms for at least 14 days, and not pregnant.


Federal help


Officials announced that $61.7 million of the federal stimulus money will be used to support rural transit in Missouri and $66.5 million to help child care workers and providers during the pandemic. The state also is getting 200,000 N95 masks through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Grants to child care providers


Missouri will receive $66.5 million in grant money to help child care workers and providers during the pandemic, Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt announced Tuesday. Blunt said the Child Care and Development Block Grant funding is part of $3.5 billion in assistance to U.S. child care providers to keep them in business.