WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Shahla Farzan

Shahla Farzan is a general assignment reporter and weekend newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio. She comes most recently from KBBI Public Radio in Homer, Alaska, where she covered issues ranging from permafrost thaw to disputes over prayer in public meetings. A science nerd to the core, Shahla spent six years studying native bees, eventually earning her PhD in ecology from the University of California-Davis. She has also worked as an intern at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and a podcaster for BirdNote. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, combing flea markets for tchotchkes, and curling up with a good book. 

After isolating at home for months, some Missouri residents are contemplating escape.

Public health experts are urging people to stay home during the pandemic, particularly as COVID-19 cases spike in cities nationwide. Still, millions of Americans are expected to travel this summer, mostly by car

No trip is truly risk-free — but if you do decide to travel in the coming months, how can you reduce your chances of catching and spreading the coronavirus?

Stroke patients in rural hospitals fare far worse than urban patients, according to new research from Washington University.

Based on the records of nearly 800,000 stroke patients in the U.S. collected over six years, rural residents were less likely to receive advanced, lifesaving treatments than urban patients — and more likely to die at the hospital.

The Confession window at St. Francis of Assisi doesn’t look all that different from a fast food drive-thru, except for a tiny sign taped to a traffic cone that reads “The Priest Is In.”

The Archdiocese of St. Louis halted most in-person services in March, as part of an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Soon after, priests at St. Francis of Assisi in Oakville devised a creative way to stay connected with parishioners: a drive-thru Confession window. 

Work hasn’t stopped for Byron Ewing during the coronavirus outbreak — if anything, it’s more intense. 

As an inmate at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Ewing works about 10 hours a day, pouring metal drums of chemicals into a massive mixer. At the end of the assembly line, his fellow inmates bottle the finished product: hand sanitizer. 

Before she was the interim minister at the Central Christian Church of Austin, Janet Maykus was a chaplain in health care settings, a job that required training in infectious disease control. So when she heard reports of the coronavirus spreading in some U.S. communities, she knew it was time to overhaul religious practices at her church.

Elsie McGrath is an unlikely renegade.

For much of her life, the 81-year-old tried to avoid confrontation and follow the rules.

But that changed in 2007, when she became an ordained priest — and in doing so, broke one of the most fundamental rules in Roman Catholicism.

"This was definitely not part of the plan," McGrath said, of her ordination. "This was what the spirit within me was leading me to."

She was excommunicated along with fellow priest Rose Marie Hudson and Bishop Patricia Fresen, who ordained the two at a synagogue in St. Louis.

When Lisa and Dan Macheca bought a century-old Methodist church in St. Louis back in 2004, they didn't think much about the cost of heating the place.

Then the first heating bill arrived: $5,000 for a single month.

"I felt like crying," Lisa Macheca said. "Like, 'Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?' "