Jackson County officials have reported the first COVID-19 death in Eastern Jackson County.


The person was a woman in her 80s who had not recently traveled, a case officials had announced earlier in the week. Officials on Friday did not give her hometown or say when she died.


County Health Director Bridgette Shaffer said there are five COVID-19 cases in Eastern Jackson County but added Friday that "these numbers are changing rapidly."


County Administrator Troy Schulte stressed that the county has a ban, through May 15, on gatherings of 10 or more people. That applies to weddings and funerals as well, he said.


The only exceptions, he said, are "day-to-day operations of health care, long-term care facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, or businesses with limited to no in-person contact with the public."


Restaurants are closed to in-person dining. Only drive-through and take-out service is allowed.


Shaffer added, "At this time we encourage daycares to remain open."


Schulte also noted that schools are closed through April 3.


"We would think that that prohibition will continue past that date," he said.


County Executive Frank White Jr. appeared to support, at least to some extent, a call by the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson order that people only leave home for food, work or medical care.


White said Parson could "make this a lot easier for everyone. He has really just said it’s up to the cities and the counties to make these decisions. He’s the one person that can make this a lot simpler for all involved, so I would encourage him to take a look at what Gov. Kelly has done in Kansas and the other governors around the United States, and take the leadership that governors should have at this time."


County officials stressed the need to:


• Continue social distancing – staying six feet away from people.


• Wash hands frequently and thoroughly.


• Keep hands away from your face.


White thanked county officials and employees who have been working hard to address the situation.


"I do believe that we will get through this," he said, "and I think we’ll emerge stronger than ever from this, but it will take the cooperation and the collaboration of quite a few people to get this done."