Mask-wearing makes a difference, doctor says

Wyandotte County reported an additional 39 COVID-19 cases on Thursday afternoon, for a cumulative total of 6,465, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. There were no additional deaths since Wednesday, for a cumulative total of 133. (From UG COVID-19 webpage)

Doctors talked about the importance of mask-wearing and distancing at Thursday’s news conference at the University of Kansas Health System news conference.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control, said the evidence is clear that masks and distancing make a difference.

Also participating in the news conference were executives and health officers from small hospitals in Kansas towns.

Beth Worden, chief nursing officer at McPherson Hospital, mentioned how important it was to be a good role model and wear a mask. When she goes to the grocery store, she wants to have a mask on, she said.

“People look at us and say, ‘That’s what we should be doing,’” she said.

Dr. Hawkinson said currently, the treatments being used for COVID-19 include remdesivir and antivirals. So far there is not an oral medication like Tamiflu on the market for COVID-19, although some companies are looking at those types of antivirals.

Convalescent plasma is being used in emergency use authorization, he said. There are still questions about when the person receives the best benefits are from it.

There are 20 or more vaccine studies going on, that can be looked at in the future, he said.

Immuno-suppressant drugs that decrease the immune dysregulation are already marketed for other conditions and are under trials for COVID-19, he said.

In addition, anticoagulants or blood thinners and dexamethasone are being used to treat COVID-19, he said.

Dr. Hawkinson said 20 acute COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Thursday morning, the same as on Wednesday. Five were in the intensive care unit, no change from Wednesday, and two were on ventilators, an increase of one since Wednesday. Four other COVID-19 patients who are no longer infectious are still on ventilators. In addition, 35 other COVID-19 patients were still hospitalized, and were no longer in the acute stage, according to Dr. Hawkinson, which was an increase from 32 on Wednesday.

Wyandotte County reported an additional 39 COVID-19 cases on Thursday afternoon, for a cumulative total of 6,465, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. There were no additional deaths since Wednesday, for a cumulative total of 133.

Testing offered

Free COVID-19 testing is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at the Health Department parking lot, 6th and Ann, Kansas City, Kansas, weather permitting.

Check with the UG’s website, Health Department Facebook page or call 311 to see if there are any changes in the schedule. Information about testing is at

The KU doctors’ news conference is at

The UG COVID-19 webpage is at

The Unified Government COVID-19 hub outbreak map at

To see an NEA list of schools that have had COVID-19 cases, visit

The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at

The Unified Government Health Department is collecting input on people’s experiences getting tested for COVID-19 in Wyandotte County. The survey is on the UG website at

The UG Health Department new school and sports guidance is online at

A previous UG sports order is online at

The Wyandotte County school start order is online at

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 or call 311 for more information.

The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at

The CDC’s COVID-19 webpage is at

UG Commission approves URBN development project

A drawing of the new $403 million URBN fulfillment center to be located next to the Kansas Speedway at 118th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. (Drawing from UG meeting information)

The Unified Government Commission on Thursday night unanimously approved a development agreement and bond agreement for the URBN development project, next to the Kansas Speedway at 118th and State Avenue.

Mayor David Alvey said the project was attractive in many ways, including its commitment to hire at least 35 percent of its employees from Wyandotte County, and providing transportation and child care.

The $403 million project promises more than 1,000 good-paying jobs in the next five years, according to Katherine Carttar, UG economic development director.

It will provide 1.5 million square feet of distribution space and 60,000 square feet of office space for Urban Outfitters and its companies, according to Carttar.

About 985 full-time jobs will pay about $18 an hour, Carttar said, while about 77 office-related jobs will pay around $35 an hour. They also expect to offer about 739 part-time jobs.

Carttar said it would be a tremendous increase to the starting salary of distribution jobs in Wyandotte County, and she hoped it would push the entire industry to even higher wages here.

The distribution fulfillment center would be the main national distribution center for Office Outfitters and its companies, according to officials. It would serve the company’s 200 stores on both coasts and throughout the nation, and it was previously described as an ecommerce direct fulfillment center. Under the plan, the facility would begin operation in 2022.

The project was worked out by state and local economic development officials, and was announced by Gov. Laura Kelly on Aug. 5.

Carttar said the incentive proposal is a 75 percent abatement over 10 years through industrial revenue bonds. It has a 45 percent base, with a 15 percent investment bonus and a 10 percent goal to hire 35 percent Wyandotte County residents, and five percent for minority, women and local contractors.

It amounts to $13.7 million over 10 years in abatements, she said. The company will be paying $6.5 million a year in payments received over 10 years, she added.

A cost benefit analysis showed all taxing jurisdictions would receive significant, positive returns on investment, Carttar said.

It was a true partnership, where they worked closely with the state and Urban Outfitters to come up with a proposal “outside the box.” The company is very community focused, and has made a commitment for child care, with an investment from state and commitment from UG, as well as a commitment for an express bus route from Indian Springs to the distribution site.

The state will contribute $1.5 million for the initial startup costs of the express route, with the company providing a CID to provide about $300,000 annually to operate the express line, she said. It would benefit their employees as well as the wider community, Carttar said.

David Ziel, chief development officer for Urban Outfitters, said he was proud to plant their largest facility in Wyandotte County.

“This is the center pin of our overall strategy for years to come,” he said.

The selection was based on partnerships, but more importantly, on the people, he said. People were the focus, with attention given by everyone to how to position the project, provide better transportation, continue to support and help the economy flourish.

“We feel it’s the strongest workforce out of our six finalists, three in each state,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to more projects in the region.

“We will hire as many candidates from Wyandotte County who qualify and who apply,” Ziel said. From their perspective, the 35 percent is not a limit on how many local residents may receive jobs. “We could go as high as it accommodates.”

Urban Outfitters’ companies include Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and the wedding concept.

“This becomes our true Omni channel facility, which supports retail, distribution, as well as direct to consumer fulfillment at the largest proportion,” Ziel said.

Originally founded on the East Coast, Urban Outfitters’ largest expansion was on the West Coast, he said. “We’ve chosen Wyandotte County in Kansas to be the centerpoint of our strategy.”

He said they are excited about universities being in close proximity, and there may be other opportunities to grow the business in Kansas, Wyandotte County and surrounding areas in the future.

He said they would be local-driven on this project.

“I am committed to continue to evolve concepts further,” he said.

Child care in this facility was a huge initiative from the state and local governments, he said. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be in this facility, but will be located in the community. Transportation also will support their development as well as continued development, providing access to good-paying jobs, he said.

“We are extraordinarily pleased,” Ziel said.

Greg Kindle, the president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, said he’s been impressed by the company’s culture.

“They’re committed to creating a quality of life for their employees that we believe brings value to Wyandotte County,” Kindle said. “This is not a transactional development deal. What is before you is a transformational development agreement that connects Urban Outfitters to our community in numerous ways.”

Those ways include a long-term commitment to transit, hiring Wyandotte County residents, including those who do not speak English as a first language, creating nearly 2,000 jobs with sector leading wages, commitment to developing health care and child care programs, using local, women-owned and minority-owned firms in construction and connecting with school districts in internships and special projects, he said.

Commissioner Melissa Bynum complimented URBN for asking Wyandotte County what it needs with this project. She said this project was a “game changer,” and may help bring families out of generational poverty.

Commissioner Tom Burroughs said projects like this, with magnitude and long-lasting impact, are catalysts for additional development projects.

Commissioner Jane Philbrook said the community is at a tipping point for a cultural shift to help it grow and make a bright future. “You are a godsend, thank you very much,” she said.

Besides holding a public hearing on the fulfillment center tonight, the commission passed a resolution of intent, a bond ordinance authorizing issuing bonds, the development agreement and bond purchase agreement, and an ordinance releasing the land for the project from the tax-increment financing and STAR (sales tax revenue) bond district. The land was part of the Kansas Speedway property, to the west of the racetrack.

Police seek public’s help to identify robbery suspects

Police are asking the public to help identify suspects in an aggravated robbery at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the 800 block of Kansas Avenue. (Photo from Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department)
Police are asking the public to help identify suspects in an aggravated robbery at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the 800 block of Kansas Avenue. (Photo from Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department)
Police are asking the public to help identify suspects in an aggravated robbery at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the 800 block of Kansas Avenue. (Photo from Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department)

Police are asking the public to assist to help identify suspects in an aggravated robbery at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the 800 block of Kansas Avenue.

According to a Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman, two suspects entered the store and lingered for an extended amount of time.

One male brandished a weapon and pointed it at the victim, a store employee, according to the spokesman.

The man then ordered the employee around at gunpoint while an unidentified female suspect acted as a distraction, according to the spokesman. The male demanded property and cash, and both suspects fled on foot, the spokesman stated.

The male was wearing a gray “Champion” hoodie, black ball cap with lettering, possibly stating “Business,” and dark-colored Nike tennis shoes, according to police.

The female had her hair up and covered by a black Nike ball cap, according to police.

Both were wearing standard medical masks. The female appears to be several inches taller than the male, police stated.

The gun appeared to be a silver semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, police said.

The robbery is under investigation by the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau. Anyone with information was asked to call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS.