Governor says rise in COVID ‘unacceptable,’ also says counties can get ballot drop boxes for elections

Wyandotte County reported at 1 p.m. Monday, an increase of 19 COVID-19 cases since Sunday, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. There is a cumulative total of 5,925 cases. There were no new deaths reported; the total remained at 113. (Information from UG COVID-19 website)

Gov. Laura Kelly said today that the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Kansas is not acceptable.

Kansas reported 42,612 positive cumulative COVID-19 cases on Monday morning, an increase of 1,564 cases since Friday morning, according to Gov. Kelly. There were three new deaths in the same time.

The more than 40,000 Kansans infected is more than the entire population of the city of Hutchinson, she said at a news conference. Over 2,300 Kansans hospitalized with the virus is the same as if every citizen of Stanton County were in the hospital, she said. If the 450 deaths had been concentrated in one area, the entire city of Axtell would be gone, she said.

“We can’t simply gloss over these historically alarming case numbers, and we can’t ignore the scope or the damage we will face if the coronavirus continues to race through our communities,” Gov. Kelly said.

“We risk even more Kansans catching a virus that can result in long-lasting health problems,” she said. “We risk hospitals reaching their bed capacity, we risk our businesses, we risk our jobs, we risk our schools and worst of all, we risk more Kansans losing their lives.”

She said her administration is exploring every possible route to keep Kansans healthy and keep businesses and schools open, she said.

Gov. Kelly said they are all aware of the heightened risk of community spread if everyone was to vote in person in the general election in November.

She said she met with Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab last week to discuss strategies for safe voting practices. She said he made sure local officials had what they needed in the primary to conduct safe and secure voting.

Schwab is providing each county with two additional ballot drop boxes ahead of the November election, she said.

Also, she said her office of recovery will send county officials a letter letting them know they can use dollars they receive from the CARES Act to increase the number of drop boxes in communities.

“Adding more ballot drop boxes will not only lessen the public health risk that would come from gathering in long lines at polling places, but by sending fewer ballots through the mail would also lessen the burden on the United States post office,” she said.

She encouraged county officials to use a portion of the CARES Act funds to purchase as many ballot drop boxes as they deem necessary.

Wyandotte County reported at 1 p.m. Monday, an increase of 19 cases since Sunday, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. There is a cumulative total of 5,925 cases. There were no new deaths reported; the total remained at 113.

According to KDHE, Johnson County reported 8,240 positive cases on Monday morning, an increase of 320 since Friday morning.

The University of Kansas Health System reported 36 acute COVID-19 patients today, an increase of nine since Friday, with nine in the intensive care unit and three on ventilators, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System. There are an additional 26 patients who are not in the acute stage currently but are still hospitalized.

According to the doctors, who spoke at a news conference, although some patients that are in recovery are better, some may still need more oxygen than they can receive at home. Some may still be weak or need help with nutrition.

Patients may feel weak for 60 to 90 days after COVID-19 and may need oxygen during that time, according to Dr. Hawkinson.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, said COVID-19 is much more serious than the flu. With the flu, 17 to 20 patients is a lot to have in the hospital. “We have three times as many now with COVID,” he said.

Doctors also recommended that people keep their regular appointments, such as dental appointments, because safety measures are being taken in dental offices. People are not getting COVID-19 at dental and medical offices, according to the doctors.

They urged people to continue infection control measures such as social distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and staying home when ill.

Virtual meeting planned

A virtual meeting for Wyandotte County businesses and the UG Health Department on COVID-19 will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, on Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/94693387087.

The toll-free number is 888-475-4499. Reservations for the town hall meeting may be made at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2VH2WVN.

Free testing offered

Free COVID-19 testing is planned from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at All Saints parish, 811 Vermont Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.

The tests are offered through Swope Health and the Health Equity Task Force.

Free testing also is offered for those who live and work in Wyandotte County from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Unified Government Health Department parking lot at 6th and Ann, Kansas City, Kansas. For more information, call 311.

Pop-up testing was canceled on Monday morning at Oak Ridge Baptist Church because of the weather, according to the UG COVID-19 website. Testing was delayed at the Health Department on Monday.

For more information on who may be tested and what to bring, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.

Gov. Kelly’s news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/356732891998559.

The KU Health System doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/937478896747472

The UG COVID-19 webpage is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.

The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at http://marc-gis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/1c93961075454558b3bf0dfad014feae.

The Unified Government Health Department is now collecting input on people’s experiences getting tested for COVID-19 in Wyandotte County. The survey is on the UG website at https://us.openforms.com/Form/ea97a450-3d74-4d86-8d1f-6e340d55cf7c.

The UG Health Department sports order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/08132020localhealthofficerorderregardingsports.pdf.

The Wyandotte County school start order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.

Wyandotte County is under a mandatory mask order and is in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. For more information, residents may visit the UG COVID-19 website at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information or call 311 for more information.

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

Committee hears Homefield proposal for Schlitterbahn site, moves forward URBN project at 118th and State

The Homefield development at the former Schlitterbahn site at 94th and State was detailed at a UG committee meeting on Monday night. (Plan from UG meeting)

Two projects together totaling more than $700 million went before a Unified Government committee tonight, a scale that Economic Development Director Kathryn Carttar said was “quite stunning.”

The Homefield youth multi-sport complex proposal for the former Schlitterbahn site at 94th and State was estimated at more than $300 million, and the URBN distribution fulfillment center and office development at 118th and State is estimated at $403 million, according to UG officials.

The Homefield multisport athletic complex, performance center and youth baseball fields are proposed to be built at the former Schlitterbahn water park, which has been closed since 2016.

Robb Heineman, a part owner of Sporting KC, presented a proposal for the Homefield complex at Monday night’s Economic Development and Finance Committee meeting. The virtual meeting was on Zoom.

“Our intent on the site is to develop a premier amateur sport resort in the Midwest,” Heineman said. He said they have 230 acres under contract from the Henry family, that owns Schlitterbahn.

The project will be a large mixed-use destination, and It may include other retailers, auto dealers, a 200-room hotel, convenience store, grocery and ancillary buildings.

Their intent is to open Homefield in late spring or early summer in 2022, he said. They would plan to demolish the existing Schlitterbahn buildings, including the vertical slides, according to Heineman. The water park was closed after a fatal accident on Aug. 7, 2016.

There would be $130 million in public financing, with $200 million of private capital, and there would be no property tax abatements, according to the project proposal. The project proposes to use STAR (sales tax revenue) bonds, paying off the old Schlitterbahn STAR bonds. Carttar said they feel like the old STAR bonds can be paid off early. Also, sales taxes from the Menards’ store on 98th could be applied to this project.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked if everyone could use the sports complex, even if they weren’t on teams. Heineman said there would be opportunities for individual youth to participate in some activities for individuals, for example, if a daily rate for an individual activity was $25, a Wyandotte County rate could be $15, he said. They would work toward giving people access, he said.

Commissioners attending the committee meeting praised the project. Commissioner Tom Burroughs also asked about having a swimming pool for the public within the sports complex, as there had been some residents asking for one.

There wasn’t a vote on the Homefield development at this time. It’s expected to go forward to considering the development agreement at a future meeting.

More information on the Homefield project is at http://wyandottedaily.com/schlitterbahn-property-proposed-to-become-homefield-an-amateur-sports-and-entertainment-venue/ and also on the agenda at https://wycokck.civicclerk.com/web/UserControls/DocPreview.aspx?p=1&aoid=1730.

Some land to the west of the Kansas Speedway is proposed to be a new URBN distribution fulfillment center. It is on the southeast corner of 118th and State Avenue.

The URBN distribution fulfillment center and office development is being built next to the Kansas Speedway on the southeast corner at 118th and State. The project advanced on Monday night, with the EDF Committee voting to approve the development agreement, industrial revenue bond ordinance and bond purchase agreement. The commission set a public hearing on the project for Oct. 29.

The URBN distribution center development was announced at a news conference online on Aug. 5. It will become the hub for Urban Outfitters, according to David Ziel, chief development officer for Urban Outfitters. He said they are looking for a long-term partnership with the community.

The building will have a total of 1.5 million square feet, according to officials, and will have jobs paying about $18 an hour. They are developing a plan to have a child care center for employees that will be located at Indian Springs and will be on the bus transit line, according to Carttar.

The project will use industrial revenue bonds and will have a net 75 percent for 10 years abatement, but the UG will not be on the hook for the money, according to Carttar. She said a financial study showed that every taxing jurisdiction came out with a significant return on investment from the project. To see an earlier story, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/new-350-million-development-announced-for-kansas-speedway-area-in-wyandotte-county/.

Menards was on the agenda again with a public hearing set for Oct. 29 for a redevelopment proposal that would build a new Menards store in an Epic Center TIF development at the southwest corner of 18th and I-35.

The project wasn’t discussed but it is expected to go before the Planning Commission on Sept. 14

Agenda information stated it may also have an office, hotel, restaurant and retail, and mixed-use development.

For more information, view the Aug. 31 meeting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmeqbDyoJ0A.

KCK student named to spring President’s List at Cloud County Community College

LaKya Leslie of Kansas City, Kansas, has been named to the Cloud County Community College Spring 2020 President’s List.

Students on the President’s List must be enrolled in at least 12 hours of college coursework with a grade point average of 3.9 to 4.0.

Cloud County Community College is located in Concordia, Kansas.