Tessa Weinberg

Tessa Weinberg

Tessa Weinberg covers education, health care and the legislature. She previously covered the Missouri statehouse for The Kansas City Star and The Columbia Missourian, where her reporting into social media use by the governor prompted an investigation by the Attorney General’s office. She most recently covered state government in Texas for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

COVID-19 Testing

First COVID case of the omicron variant found in Missouri

By: and - December 3, 2021

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has made its way to Missouri, with the first case announced Friday. In a news release, the Department of Health and Senior Services said it was notified by public health partners of a presumed positive case for the variant that came from a St. Louis resident who had recently traveled […]

Eric Schmitt and Donald Kauerauf

Missouri health director wanted to appeal judge’s COVID ruling. AG Schmitt refused

By: and - December 2, 2021

Attorney General Eric Schmitt will not appeal a consequential court ruling that strips powers from local health departments, despite a request from Missouri’s state health director to do so. In an email to The Independent, Schmitt’s spokesman said the attorney general’s office notified the Department of Health and Senior Services of its decision. “We have […]

Man receives vaccine shot in arm.

Missouri allocated $11M for vaccine gift cards. Most health departments said no thanks

By: and - December 2, 2021

As the delta variant ran rampant this summer, Missouri officials pleaded with the federal government to allow a $100 gift card program to incentivize COVID-19 vaccines. But months later, just 20 of the 115 eligible local health departments have opted into the vaccine incentive program, an investigation by The Missouri Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 […]

Rep. Doug Richey and Cindy O'Laughlin

Ahead of session, lawmakers scrutinize Missouri social studies standards, school boards

By: - November 30, 2021

Missouri lawmakers trained their focus Tuesday on how school boards interact with the public and the ways in which history is taught in schools. For over three hours, the Joint Committee on Education discussed how social studies curriculum makes its way into the classroom, raising questions about whether the Sept. 11 attacks are taught and […]

Delta variant cases spike again in November as health officials watch for arrival of new strain

By: and - November 30, 2021

A waning delta variant summer surge gave way to a spike of cases in November, as infections and hospitalizations rose amid concerns about a new variant spreading out of South Africa. The omicron variant hasn’t been detected in Missouri, but public health officials are watching. The first place it is likely to be detected is […]

Tampon file photo

With new law and state funds, some Missouri jails lift fees for tampons and pads

By: - November 29, 2021

When people are checked into the Clay County Detention Center, they all have to pay an intake fee of $8. But for women on their periods, entering the jail used to cost them extra. Incarcerated women at the facility used to be charged about $6 for two packages of 12 pads. If they didn’t have […]

New director vows changes at Missouri’s troubled social services department

By: - November 16, 2021

The new acting director of Missouri’s troubled Department of Social Services pledged to lawmakers Tuesday that he would work to address the agency’s long list of challenges and “tears in our safety net.” The Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect heard for the first time from the new acting department director, Robert Knodell.  Knodell […]

Missouri gives nursing homes a way to temporarily close in face of federal vaccine rule

By: - November 15, 2021

With over 40% of Missouri’s nursing home staff still unvaccinated, the state health department is giving long-term care facilities a route to avoid losing their license if they shut down due to staffing shortfalls after a federal vaccine requirement kicks in next month. On Friday, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) published an […]

Dr. Jon Roberts and Sheri Noble at the Good Samaritan Care Clinic

After more than 17 years, a free health care clinic in southern Missouri shuts its doors

By: - November 11, 2021

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Mo. — It was already 1 p.m., and Sheri Noble’s Monday was just getting started. There were prescriptions to call into the pharmacy, times to coordinate for people to pick up donated supplies, and a schedule of about 30 patients she had to prepare for.  In many ways it was business as usual […]

Missouri to provide teachers credit monitoring after reporter found security flaw

By: - November 10, 2021

Nearly a month after a reporter identified a security flaw in a state website that exposed teachers’ social security numbers, the state announced Wednesday it was offering a year of credit monitoring services to hundreds of thousands of teachers whose personal information was put at risk According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education […]

Workers on strike at St. Louis nursing home plagued by understaffing, deficiencies

By: , and - November 8, 2021

CLAYTON, Mo. — A group of nursing home workers have been on strike for days to protest unfair labor practices and what they say are dangerous violations and deficiencies at three understaffed St. Louis-area facilities.  On Monday, Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing workers and union members protested outside their employer’s corporate office, calling on St. Louis […]

COVID vaccine administered

Missouri last in U.S. for nursing home staff vaccinations as federal deadline nears

By: and - November 5, 2021

Even as nursing homes worked through the summer to get Missouri over the halfway mark in employee vaccinations, the state fell further behind peers, dropping to last in the nation. And while neighboring Kansas has fared better, both states have large swaths of nursing home staff to get vaccinated before a federal deadline next month. […]