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More than 120,000 U.S. kids had caregivers die during pandemic

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More than 120,000 U.S. kids had caregivers die during pandemic

NEW YORK — The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.

More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.

“These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.

During 15 months of the nearly 19-month COVID-19 pandemic, more than 120,000 U.S. children lost a parent or grandparent who was a primary provider of financial support and care, the study found. Another 22,000 children experienced the death of a secondary caregiver — for example, a grandparent who provided housing but not a child’s other basic needs.

In many instances, surviving parents or other relatives remained to provide for these children. But the researchers used the term “orphanhood” in their study as they attempted to estimate how many children’s lives were upended.

Federal statistics are not yet available on how many U.S. children went into foster care last year. Researchers estimate COVID-19 drove a 15% increase in orphaned children.

The new study’s numbers are based on statistical modeling that used fertility rates, death statistics and household composition data to make estimates.

An earlier study by different researchers estimated that roughly 40,000 U.S. children lost a parent to COVID-19 as of February 2021.

The two studies’ findings are not inconsistent, said Ashton Verdery, an author of the earlier study. Verdery and his colleagues focused on a shorter time period than the new study. Verdery’s group also focused only on deaths of parents, while the new paper also captured what happened to caregiving grandparents.

“It is very important to understand grandparental losses,” said Verdery, a researcher at Penn State, in an email. “Many children live with grandparents,” a living arrangement more common among certain racial groups.

About 32% of all kids who lost a primary caregiver were Hispanic and 26% were Black. Hispanic and Black Americans make up much smaller percentages of the population than that. White children accounted for 35% of the kids who lost primary caregivers, even though more than half of the population is white.

The differences were far more pronounced in some states. In California, 67% of the children who lost primary caregivers were Hispanic. In Mississippi, 57% of the children who lost primary caregivers were Black, the study found.

The new study based its calculation on excess deaths, or deaths above what would be considered typical. Most of those deaths were from the coronavirus, but the pandemic has also led to more deaths from other causes.

Kate Kelly, a Georgia teenager, lost her 54-year-old father in January. William “Ed” Kelly had difficulty breathing and an urgent care clinic suspected it was due to COVID-19, she said. But it turned out he had a blocked artery and died at work of a heart attack, leaving Kate, her two sisters and her mother.

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After nearly two months, still no sign of missing Hillsdale man

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After nearly two months, still no sign of missing Hillsdale man

HILLSDALE, Mo. – The last time Shemika McGee saw her son, Jarius McGee, was in early September in Hillsdale.

After nearly two months, Jarius is still missing, and Shemika hasn’t heard anything from him.

“I think that he got a phone call, and with the phone call, it just led to something else which led to him missing and I just want him back at home,” she said.

McGee said her son would come and go like many young adults and wasn’t in any trouble that she knew of.

When he left, she said he didn’t have the usual things he would carry like his wallet or headphones.

“We really don’t have anything to go off other than the fact that he’s missing,” McGee said.

Hillsdale Chief of Police John Bernsen said an investigation is ongoing and the department is waiting on Jarius’ phone records.

“Every time we try to chase down a lead it’s always a dead end so that’s why we’re trying to put out the word out so much. We know somebody has seen him. Somebody knows something,” Chief Bernsen said.

Looking for an Angel President Theda Person heard about Jarius missing through social media. Now her non-profit organization has joined the search.

“I’ve created a flyer I’ve contacted Missouri State Highway Patrol to make sure that a flyer was created because law enforcement didn’t really do that,” Person said.

Person believes more can be done in the search is prepared to help McGee as needed.

“1f we say that we care about those that we are serving then we should be more intentional,” she said.

She said with McGee missing this long, he could be anywhere. When asked if he were another race would there be a more thorough investigation, Person thinks so.

“Definitely we can see with the Gabby Petito case and other cases,” Person said.

McGee just wants to know where her son is.

“I mean anything that you can think of goes through my mind,” she said. “Where’s he at, who could he be with? There’s a lot of things going through my mind.”

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‘They’re basically stealing from kids’ – Thieves steal Boy Scout troop’s trailer

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‘They’re basically stealing from kids’ – Thieves steal Boy Scout troop’s trailer

ST. LOUIS – A local Boy Scout troop is heartbroken after a trailer carrying all their camping equipment was stolen over the weekend in the Holly Hills neighborhood. Now, the troop is asking for the public’s help to either find the trailer or help replace the items lost.

Troop 104’s bright red trailer was stolen Friday morning around 5 a.m. Scoutmaster Michael Lohff said the truck and all the equipment inside totaled more than $15,000, including tents, cookware, and tarps. He said all the items were acquired from years of donations and fundraising. 

“It has a big impact on the fact that we’re going to have to look up replacing everything as we go along, or definitely before we hit the road again, and we want to be able to do that very soon,” Lohff said.  

He said he brought a bright red trailer when he first started with the troop so he could carry all the troop’s equipment for camping and other activities.  

“They’re basically stealing from kids; that’s what they’re doing,” he said. “Whoever did take the trailer and all that equipment from the boys. They stole from the boys that are members of the troop and have been members of the troop for all these years.”

Lohff said all the items were acquired through donations and fundraising by his scout members.

The trailer was parked in a private lot in the Holly Hills neighborhood in south St. Louis. Lohff said he has parked the trailer there for nearly two decades without any incident. He was heartbroken to find the trailer had been stolen.

“That raises very personal concerns of who’s right behind my backyard,” neighbor Chuck Smith said.

Smith lives a couple of doors down from the lot. He said the trailer has become a neighborhood staple over the years.

“To do it at this time of year before Christmas, it just seems like a very insensitive thing to do,” he said.  

Lohff said the trailer also got broken into last year, but only a few items were stolen after that incident. But after this recent theft, he’s going to upgrade his security. He said police do not have any security footage. 

Anyone with information on the person or persons responsible for the theft is asked to call the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department at 314-444-0100 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

There is a GoFundMe page to help the troop replace the stolen trailer and gear.

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Saint Louis Zoo wants gun activist who fought its ban to pay legal bills

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Saint Louis Zoo wants gun activist who fought its ban to pay legal bills

ST. LOUIS (AP) — After successfully defending its weapons ban in court, the Saint Louis Zoo is now trying to force the gun-rights activist who challenged the ban to pay part of its $150,000 in legal bills.

The zoo filed a request for its request for legal fees in August, but a judge has yet to rule on the motion.

A lawyer for Jeffry Smith of Cincinnati, Ohio, who challenged the ban on guns called the motion unfair.

A St. Louis judge ruled last year that the zoo could ban guns on its property because it qualifies as a school and a gated amusement park under state law.

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