CDC new masking guidance results in changes in some metro area rules

Thursday was a big day for COVID-19 developments. The CDC announced guidelines Thursday that included dropping mask and distancing requirements for fully vaccinated persons.

The guidelines are aimed at increasing vaccinations, and those who have been vaccinated are advised they can return to normal activities. Individuals may continue wearing masks if they want.

Although new COVID-19 cases were still over 35,000 in the United States on Thursday, the number of new cases has declined by more than 10,000 in the past few weeks, according to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 statistics.

“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC stated in guidelines online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.

Also on Thursday, the Unified Government Health Department started offering COVID-19 vaccines to adolescents age 12 and older.

Next came an announcement from Gov. Laura Kelly that Kansas has adopted the CDC guidance on masking and physical distancing.

“Effective immediately, Kansas will adopt the CDC’s latest guidance that fully-vaccinated Kansans are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outdoors or physically distance, except in circumstances such as those required by businesses, public transportation, or health care facilities. Should fully-vaccinated Kansans feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they are welcome to continue doing so,” Gov. Kelly said in a news release.

“This announcement is welcome news, and a testament to the sacrifices Kansans have made over the last year,” she said. “I can think of no better reason for all Kansans to get vaccinated. The sooner we are vaccinated – the sooner we get back to normal.”

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, said at a news conference on Thursday morning at the University of Kansas Health System that Kansas was ready to start vaccinating younger patients on Thursday. The state has weeks of inventory available, and even had to return some vaccines because of lack of demand, according to Dr. Norman.

The state has given 2.17 million doses of vaccine, but there is a decline in the rate of the 20 to 45 age group.

Dr. Norman said mobile units are visiting schools and parks to offer vaccines. He added it will be important to get the vaccine to doctors’ offices, but the extreme cold storage requirement for them has been an obstacle. Smaller vials and single-dose syringes may help with vaccinations, according to Dr. Norman.

He also said getting younger kids vaccinated in the summer, along with getting their regular school vaccines, will be the key to a normal school year in the fall.

Dr. Norman believes lawsuits from parents suing school districts over mask requirements are “pretty ill founded.” He also said there are 160,000 children in Kansas who are 12 to 15 and can get the vaccine. The KDHE doesn’t care what state a person is from in order to get the first or second shot, he said.

Dr. Norman also said there is an uptick in COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities. He said it is from unvaccinated staff members who come into the facilities. Very few residents are getting sick, it’s mostly unvaccinated staff members, he said. It shows the need for the staff to get vaccinated, he said.

Tests of wastewater are seeing the variants becoming more prevalent in Kansas, and mostly it’s the UK variant, he added.

Dr. Barbara Pahud, research director of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy, said Children’s Mercy Hospital will offer vaccinations for children over 12 on Saturday, with information at childrensmercy.org/. They are hoping vaccines will be available in pharmacies and in physician’s offices, she said. Dr. Pahud said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has said they don’t have to wait to give COVID-19 vaccines at separate times from the other vaccinations they receive. The vaccines can be given at the same time.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said it’s important to prevent children from getting disease, and vaccines are important. If children are well and able to participate in activities, it allows the parents to go to work and not have to stay home and watch the kids, he added.

Dr. Norman said in Kansas, some pharmacies, school sites and some pediatricians’ offices have begun offering the vaccinations to adolescents on Thursday. The clinics tend to be smaller, he added. The state held a mobile vaccination clinic at a reservoir on Wednesday, he added.

Wyandotte County requirements

There was no change in Wyandotte County mask requirements on Thursday, as Wyandotte County already changed mask requirements on April 30. The Unified Government loosened requirements on April 30, and that ordinance is still in place.

It requires masks in most indoor public spaces in Wyandotte County, unless everyone there is fully vaccinated. This ordinance dropped social distancing requirements in Wyandotte County, and it also said that those who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks indoors if everyone present is fully vaccinated. Schools and churches are not under the UG ordinance, but make their own rules. Also, businesses may make their own more restrictive rules about masks, if they want. About 30 percent of Wyandotte County residents have received one COVID-19 vaccine, with 25 percent fully vaccinated, according to UG Health Department statistics. The UG ordinance is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/amend-lho-may-6-2021.pdf.

Kansas is currently under a state law that requires changes to the COVID-19 restrictions to go through a vote of the county commission. The Unified Government Commission met Thursday night, May 13, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. but did not discuss or vote on any further COVID-19 restrictions at either meeting.

Around 9 p.m. Thursday, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that Kansas City, Missouri, would drop its mask ordinance at noon Friday. According to Mayor Lucas, the most recent order in Kansas City, Missouri, allowed everyone to drop the mask requirement outside, while letting unvaccinated persons go maskless indoors with others who were vaccinated. He said the CDC’s guidance Thursday created confusion with the local order.

“Staff at many establishments have been subject to harassment based on upholding our orders and we will not force them to do so further where our regulators cannot reasonably tell between those vaccinated or not at an establishment, and where our guidance may conflict with the CDC,” Lucas said in a statement. “We have followed CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so today.”

They will shift to encouraging people to get vaccinated, according to Lucas.

Wyandotte County announced on Thursday it would offer free COVID-19 vaccines to those who were 12 and older.

Wyandotte County offers COVID-19 vaccinations to ages 12 to 15

Wyandotte County is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents ages 12 to 15, in addition to everyone over 16, according to a news release Thursday from the Unified Government Health Department.

The FDA extended emergency authorization for ages 12 to 15 earlier this week with the Pfizer vaccine, and CDC has recommended it.

“This is a big step forward in protecting young people and families in our community from COVID-19,” said Juliann Van Liew, director of the Unified Government Health Department. “We are very excited to be able to offer COVID vaccines to kids and teens age 12 to 15 in our community. We are also providing opportunities this summer for kids to catch up on the vaccinations they need for school, on Wednesdays at our vaccine site at the former Kmart. Now that the CDC recommended offering other vaccines at the same time as the COVID vaccine, it is great to be able to offer childhood vaccinations and COVID vaccinations in the same visit so families don’t have to make separate trips.”

COVID-19 vaccines Monday-Friday

Adolescents age 12-15 may also receive a COVID-19 vaccination during any of the UGPHD’s Monday through Friday vaccination hours at its three mass vaccination sites. They must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. COVID-19 vaccines are provided for free, and patients do not have to have health insurance to be vaccinated, according to the Health Department.

The former Best Buy, 10500 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas, is open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. The site will close after May 25.

The former Kmart at 7836 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, is open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays it is open from noon to 7 p.m.

The Kansas National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th St. (near 18th and Ridge), Kansas City, Kansas, is open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. There also are Saturday vaccination clinics at the Armory for those who are 18 and older with the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine available. Saturday clinics are provided through a partnership with Donnelly College.

Other childhood immunizations

On Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. this summer at the former Kmart site, the Health Department is offering free childhood immunizations for children who are uninsured or are insured through Kansas Medicaid (KanCare). If a child has private insurance, families should follow up with their primary care doctor or pediatrician about childhood vaccinations. These clinics are intended to help students catch up on vaccines that are required in Kansas schools before the 2021-2022 school year. Kids and teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For general childhood vaccinations, families should bring the child’s Vaccination Record or a letter from the school nurse saying which vaccine the child needs. This is not required for children receiving only the COVID-19 vaccine.

Kids and teens age 12 and up may receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as their other vaccinations. If parents and guardians also want a COVID-19 vaccine, they are welcome to receive their COVID-19 vaccination at the same time as their children. Different childhood vaccines (required for different ages or grade levels) will be available on different dates. The schedule:

For middle school students, those typically 11 to 15. All school districts may be vaccinated on May 19 and May 26. Vaccines available include the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; the meningococcal-meningitis vaccine; the human papilloma virus vaccine; and the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and up.

For high school students, usually those ages 16 to 18. Kansas City, Kansas, Public School high school students may be vaccinated. Vaccination dates are June 2 for Wyandotte High School and Sumner Academy; June 9 for Schlagle and Washington high schools; and June 16 for Harmon High School. The vaccination dates are June 23 and June 30 for Bonner Springs, Piper and Turner high schools. Vaccines available will be meningococcal – meningitis; meningococcal -miningitis B, human papilloma virus; and COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and up.

For elementary school students, typically those age 4 to 6, vaccines will be available for all school districts on July 7, July 14 and July 21. Vaccines available include tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; varicella (chicken pox); hepatitis A; and COVID 19 vaccine for ages 12 and up.

Transportation available

The Health Department offers free transportation to a vaccination site for individuals, families and groups. To submit a request, visit WycoVaccines.org. Residents without an internet connection may call 3-1-1 to make their transportation or homebound vaccination request.

Bus access has been expanded for the Saturday vaccine clinics in May at the Armory. Bus routes 102, 103 and 118 now provide service to the Armory on Saturdays, every 30 minutes. There also is a special transfer stop between route 106 and route 118 at 18th and Quindaro. Saturday vaccine clinics are for those ages 18 and older.

Free vaccinations available Friday

Free walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations will be available for everyone over age 12 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 14, at the former Kmart, 7836 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, and at the Kansas National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th (18th and Ridge), Kansas City, Kansas.
The former Best Buy, 10500 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas, will be closed on Friday.

The schedule of vaccinations changed recently. To see the new schedule and more information about vaccinations, visit WycoVaccines.org or https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.

The Health Department will be doing more mobile vaccinations, and people may request vaccines to be given at different sites in the community by going to WycoVaccines.org and clicking on “mobile vaccine request.” People also may request a ride to vaccination sites on the same page.

UG Health Department vaccinations are now open to people from other counties and states. People may walk in for vaccinations or can schedule them.

Those who wish to schedule an appointment may use the Health Department’s self-scheduling tool at WycoVaccines.org and click on a blue button that says, “Click here to schedule an appointment online.” The page is available in Spanish by clicking at the top of the page. Walk-in appointments also are welcome.

Those who don’t have an internet connection may call 3-1-1 or 913-573-5311 for assistance in scheduling their vaccination appointment time and date.
To see more information about Health Department vaccinations and next week’s schedule, visit WycoVaccines.org.

Other sites available for vaccination

Vaccinations at KU Health System are open to the public. Current patients may use MyChart to make an appointment. Others may call 913-588-1227 or visit kansashealthsystem.com/vaccine to make an appointment to get vaccinated.

There are also pharmacies giving free COVID-19 vaccinations in Wyandotte County by appointment, when available. These include Price Chopper and Hen House pharmacies, which are now accepting walk-in vaccinations, and are starting vaccinations for age 12 and up at those pharmacies that are giving Pfizer vaccine (see https://www.ballsfoodspharmacy.com/). Medicine Shoppe pharmacy at 65th and Parallel (see https://www.facebook.com/The-Medicine-Shoppe-Kansas-City-281548241870522).

CVS has announced walk-in appointments for COVID-19 vaccine at some of its stores. Those interested in getting a vaccination at a CVS pharmacy are asked to visit a CVS website in order to make sure there is vaccine available. The website is at www.cvs.com/. Walgreens and Walmart also were listed on www.vaccines.gov as giving vaccinations.

Other pharmacies and sites giving vaccines are listed at www.vaccines.gov.

Case numbers reported

KU Health System reported about the same number of patients on Thursday. There were 22 patients with the active virus being treated, a decrease of one since Wednesday. Eight of the patients were in the intensive care unit, a decrease of three since Wednesday. Three patients were on ventilators, no change from Wednesday. There were 12 COVID-19 patients who were out of the acute infection phase, an increase of one from Wednesday. There were a total of 34 patients, no change from Wednesday.

Wyandotte County reported an increase of 14 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, May 13, for a cumulative 18,620 cases, according to the Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 webpage. There was a cumulative total of 292 deaths reported, no change. On May 12, the Health Department reported that 30.45 percent of Wyandotte County residents, or 50,368, had received at least one vaccine dose. Those who completed their vaccinations were 25 percent, or 41,377.

The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 172,537 cumulative COVID-19 cases.. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 61.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 311,338 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Kansas on Wednesday, May 12, an increase of 411 cases since Monday, May 10. There were a total cumulative 5,029 deaths reported statewide, an increase of 13.
KDHE reported that Johnson County had 58,401 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, an increase of 98 since Monday. Leavenworth County had 7,230 cases on Wednesday, an increase of two since Monday. Sedgwick County (the Wichita area) had 56,676 cases on Wednesday, an increase of 88 since Monday

The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Thursday night reported 32,852,543 cumulative COVID-19 cases in the United States, with 584,478 total deaths reported nationwide. There were 35,878 new cases nationwide and 848 new deaths nationwide.
States with the highest number of new cases were Florida, 3,184; Michigan, 2,765; Texas, 2,637; New York, 2,024; and Pennsylvania, 1,937.
Countries with the highest number of new cases were India, 362,727; Brazil, 79,692; U.S., 35,878; Argentina, 24,475; and France, 21,498, according to Johns Hopkins information.

Free testing available Friday

Free COVID-19 testing will be available from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 14, at the Kansas National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th, Kansas City, Kansas, and the former Kmart at 7836 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. For information about UG Health Department COVID-19 testing sites and hours, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19. To see if there is any change to the schedule, visit https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept. Appointments are not needed.

One of the WellHealth sites for free COVID-19 testing is open beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, May 14, at Lowe’s at 6920 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. Appointments are required. For more information, to see other testing sites and to make an appointment, visit https://www.gogettested.com/kansas.

The Health Department’s general contact page is at https://www.wycokck.org/Health/Contact.aspx. Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.

Testing sites are at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19. There are more test sites listed on this page.

Saliva testing is now offered at the UG Health Department. For more information, visit https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/02042021-ugphd-saliva-testing-available.pdf.

The University of Kansas doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/1116924078826762.

The University of Kansas Health System COVID-19 update page is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/292961702392386.

A weekly vaccine report for the state of Kansas is at
https://www.kansasvaccine.gov/DocumentCenter/View/123/Vaccine-Historical-Document-22521?bidId=.

Information about the new mask ordinance passed April 29, which loosened restrictions in Wyandotte County, is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/updatedwycomaskorder04302021.pdf. The new mask order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/amend-lho-may-6-2021.pdf.

The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/.

The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at https://marc2.org/covidhub/.

The Wyandotte County page on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website is at https://bao.arcgis.com/covid-19/jhu/county/20209.html.

The Johns Hopkins Data in Motion, a presentation on critical COVID-19 data in the past 24 hours, is at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/covid-19-daily-video.

KCKCC’s Aliyah Myers named first-team NJCAA All-American

Second nationally in both steals and assists, sophomore guard Aliyah Myers, left, is the seventh KCKCC player to earn first team All-America honors. (Photo by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC sports information

Defense and playmaking do matter, especially when it comes to basketball All-Americans.

Second in the nation in both steals and assists, Aliyah Myers is the seventh Kansas City Kansas Community College Division II first team All-American as selected by the NJCAA. The Defensive Player of the Year in the Jayhawk Conference, Myers was also named to the first All-Region and All–Jayhawk teams.

“Aliyah is the most complete guard I’ve had in my tenure and definitely the most decorated guard I’ve had,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “To be recognized as being one of the top players in the nation is certainly deserving.”

“Shocked and real happy,” said Myers, a 5-7 sophomore point guard from Derby, Kansas, who also finished second in scoring (13.5) and third in rebounding (5.5) in leading the Blue Devils to a 21-4 record, the Plains Regional championship and a berth in the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

Myers finished the season with 80 steals and 120 assists despite the season being shortened by 10 games because of the COVID pandemic. Her 10 steals against Hesston are the third most in KCKCC history and her 150 career steals are the ninth most.

“She could guard anywhere from the one to the four spot and do it very, very well,” McKinstry said. “She was great on the ball but she was also always in the right spot to help on and off the ball.”

A tireless defender who usually drew an opponent’s best offensive player, Myers played 684 minutes, the 12th most in the country.

“I just wanted to play every game being tough and giving 100 percent energy all the time,” Myers said. “It’s been my role all through high school and it didn’t change in college.”

Myers was almost bypassed coming out of Derby High School.

“One of my teammates went to Oregon State, another committed to Missouri State so I was overlooked,” Myers said. “At first I was not looking at junior colleges. I wanted to play NCAA Division I or II. But then I talked to my high school coach and he had good things to say about coach McKinstry so I reached out to him and took my visit.”

Myers will get a chance to play NCAA II basketball. She’s signed to play at Pittsburg State this coming season.

“I liked their style of play and it kind of felt like home because of the warm welcome I got from the coaches and players,” she said.

With the loss of Pittsburg State’s starting point guard, Myers is expected to have an immediate impact.

In her two years at KCKCC, the Blue Devils were 46-11.

“Obviously we were hoping the season would have ended better but I’m happy with what we accomplished,” Myers said. “We put ourselves in position to play in the national tournament and not all teams can do that. Playing for coach McKinstry made me a better player. I came in every day with the mindset of getting better and listening to him and buying into his program for sure made me better.”

Other Blue Devils to earn first team All-America recognition include Aneta Kausaite, 1996; Jurgita Kausaite, 1997; Stephanie Brown, 2005; Cierra Gaines, 2015; Cheyenne North, 2016; and Niji Collier, 2019. In addition, Cassidy Harbert earned honorable mention on the 2014 Community College All-America team chosen by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and Kisi Young was named to the NJCAA Division II second team in 2019.

Red Cross offers T-shirts, contest for blood donors

Blood donors in selected American Red Cross blood drives this summer will receive T-shirts and will be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper.

James Van Der Beek, an actor, and his wife Kimberly have joined with the Red Cross to encourage healthy people to donate blood or platelets.

As the nation gets back to some of its former activities, a Red Cross spokesman stated that there is a concern about the effect on Red Cross blood donor turnout and the blood supply this summer.

In thanks for making the blood donations, those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in May will automatically be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five, powered by Suburban Propane, via their SuburbanCares initiative. The Red Cross is also thanking those who come to donate May 28-June 13 with a limited-edition T-shirt, while supplies last.

The Van Der Beeks said that blood donations have saved the lives of pregnant women needing transfusions.

Individuals of all blood types are urged to schedule an appointment now to give blood, and in most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility, a spokesman stated. Appointments can be made by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Testing may also identify the presence of antibodies developed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Plasma from routine blood and platelet donations that test positive for high levels of antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to meet potential future needs of COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood product collected from COVID-19 survivors who have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

The Red Cross is also screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.

Donors can expect to receive antibody test and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

Upcoming Red Cross blood drives in Kansas City, Kansas, include:

• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 21, the New Bethel Church, 745 Walker Ave.
• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 26, Cabela’s, 10300 Cabela Drive.
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 2, Cabela’s, 10300 Cabela Drive.
• 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 2, Cabela’s, 10300 Cabela Drive.