Police to step up enforcement of stay-home order following rapid rise in COVID-19

Unified Government officials tonight stated that they would step up enforcement of the stay-home order following a rapid rise in COVID-19 in Wyandotte County.

There has been a significant increase this week in the number of COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County, officials with the Unified Government stated.

“As of this afternoon, we have 137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wyandotte County,” Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer with the Unified Government, said in a news release. “That’s a 191 percent increase in positive cases since one week ago. We know that Wyandotte County’s population is uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the number of residents with underlying conditions and without health insurance. We have taken aggressive action in the Kansas City region and State of Kansas, but we must be even more diligent to take care of our community in Wyandotte County.”

Dr. Greiner warned that the peak of the outbreak is still weeks away.

“We are in the early days of this outbreak,” Greiner said. “The epidemiological models we are using show that the peak number of cases won’t occur until at least the end of April. That’s why it’s vitally important that our residents and businesses comply with the stay-at-home order and practice social distancing so we can slow down the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

UG employee dies from COVID-19

Mayor David Alvey shared the news that the newest confirmed death was that of a 64-year-old man who had been a long-time employee of the Unified Government’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s always tragic to lose a member of our community,” Mayor Alvey said. “To lose a member of our Unified Government family hits particularly close to home. Our prayers are with his family at this very sad time.”

Clusters of cases

In another development, Dr. Greiner announced that at the Riverbend Post Acute Care Center at 7850 Freeman, 17 patients have tested positive for COVID-19, out of 135 total residents. Six of these 17 patients are now hospitalized. Two staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Over the past several weeks, there have also been three clusters of COVID-19 confirmed positives related to religious activities. While religious activities are considered exempt from the Kansas stay-at-home order, the Health Department strongly encouraged those who practice faith to do so remotely.

On March 21, Mayor David Alvey announced that Dr. Greiner had issued a public health order requiring residents to stay-at-home. Although this order was superseded by Gov. Laura Kelly’s March 28, statewide stay-at-home executive order, both orders stress the importance of practicing social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Everyone in our community must comply with the stay-at-home order and practice social distancing,” Dr. Greiner said. “This means staying six feet or more away from everyone possible – even if they don’t have the symptoms of COVID-19. If we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, we can protect ourselves, our families and our Wyandotte County community.”

Police, sheriff stepping up enforcement efforts
Under the stay-at-home order, residents are required to stop participating in non-essential activities, and non-essential businesses are no longer allowed to continue operations until at least April 19. To mitigate the escalating spread of COVID-19, the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office will begin stepping up enforcement of the stay-at-home order in Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County, beginning April 3, a UG spokesman stated. Violators are subject to a $500 fine.

“We know our residents want to be safe, and want their families and neighbors to be safe, so our hope is that all community members will voluntarily follow the stay at home order,” Mayor Alvey said. “But if it becomes necessary, we will enforce this order in an effort to protect the health of everyone we serve.”

Residents can report any businesses or individuals whom they believe are not complying with the stay-at-home order by calling the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department’s special reporting line at 913-225-4788. The line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. During other hours, calls should be made to the KCKPD non-emergency number, 913-596-3000. When leaving a message, residents should include their name, a call-back number, the address of the business or individual believed to be non-compliant, a contact name for the business (when possible), and the nature of the perceived violation.

Residents with COVID-19 symptoms should call their primary health care provider or self-report their symptoms at www.wycokck.org/COVID-19 or by calling 3-1-1.

For more information, visit the UG’s COVID-19 page at www.wycokck.org/COVID-19self reporting, news releases and additional resources
or call the UG’s 3-1-1 call line for residents who have questions

Kansas reports five more COVID-19 deaths; number of cases rises to 620

Kansas reported 620 COVID-19 cases on Friday, April 3. (KDHE map)
Wyandotte County reported 139 positive cases on Friday, an increase of 29 cases since Thursday evening. (UG COVID-19 website graph)

Wyandotte County reports one more death, and total of 139 cases

Kansas reported five more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 17, according to reports from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Positive cases rose by 68 statewide on Friday to a total of 620, according to Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, and the rate is still on the rise.

One of the new COVID-19 deaths was from Wyandotte County, according to the Unified Government’s COVID-19 website. Wyandotte County now has a total of 6 COVID-19 related deaths, with 139 positive cases and 40 persons hospitalized from COVID-19 at 5:15 p.m. April 3, according to the UG’s COVID-19 website.

Johnson County reported a total of 7 deaths as of April 3, an increase of three deaths since April 2, according to the Johnson County Health Department COVID-19 website. Johnson County went from 161 positive cases on April 2 to 172 cases on April 3.

Kansas added 138 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past two days, Dr. Norman said.

Dr. Norman said there have been clusters of cases in long-term residential centers in Johnson, Wyandotte and Coffey counties, where caregivers or residents have contracted the disease.

Some recent online mobility reports from various sources have shown that Kansans have traveled around 35 percent less than before the stay-home order went into effect.

Dr. Norman said the state would reach the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic quicker once it gets to 45 percent and 55 percent. The community mobility reports, such as one from Google, are not sponsored or funded by the state.

“We cannot let up on social distancing and stay-at-home,” he said.

Ages 20 to 44 account for 29 percent of the COVID-19 positive cases in Kansas, and Dr. Norman said many persons in that group could be asymptomatic, not feeling as ill as others, so they may be going about their normal activities even though there are stay-home orders. They also may be less likely to follow rules and don’t feel as vulnerable.

Some in the older age groups may understand they’re at risk, while some of the younger persons may not feel they’re at risk.

He said everyone needs to stay home, as they could be carrying the coronavirus and not know it.

Gov. Laura Kelly said a lot of 24-year-olds have parents and grandparents, and if they don’t stay home for themselves they should do it for their parents and grandparents.

Dr. Norman said they are working with local health departments to increase the COVID-19 testing in communities, which will help them assess how widespread it is in communities.

Dr. Norman also said the state KDHE is managing the medical cases of persons in the Lansing Correctional Facility who have come into contact with persons who are positive for COVID-19. The local communities’ health departments are managing community contacts of the workers who were positive, he said.

At 11 p.m. Thursday night, Kansas received its final allocation of supplies and equipment from the federal stockpile, Gov. Kelly said. During the weekend, the state will be doing inventory and sending the supplies to counties, she said. Kansas will receive 90 percent of its allocation, she said, and will not get the other 10 percent, which will be sent to somewhere else that is in need.

The state has put in several other requests since mid-March to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and has yet to receive any of those shipments, she said.

She said the state will clear out its inventory by next Tuesday, sending supplies to counties, and will need to get restocked. Kansas has put in some orders from private companies, but has been experiencing shipping delays, she said.

April 4 will be four weeks since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Kansas, Gov. Kelly said.

“It’s a bit jaw-dropping to reflect on how much of our world has changed in such a short period of time,” Gov. Kelly said.

She said she must think about the economic challenges waiting for Kansas once they get to the other side of the public health emergency. That includes jobs, small businesses and economic recovery.

On Friday morning, Gov. Kelly signed a new bipartisan 10-year transportation plan for Kansas, Senate Bill 173.

She said it offers a visionary approach to Kansas infrastructure, so that the state has the flexibility to address immediate needs and secure more opportunities for the future.

“Investing in Kansas’ infrastructure means putting people to work,” she said, as well as fixing roads and bridges and safer transportation for children.

All remaining T-Works projects would be let by July 1, 2023, she said. KDOT would establish metrics making sure highway preservation needs are fully funded before adding to the current highway system, she said. Emerging needs would be met with new projects selected every two years, she said.

According to the legislation, each Kansas county would receive at least $8 million in transportation improvements, she said.

Broadband and new technology improvements are included, she said.

Gov. Kelly also mentioned the paycheck protection program, a new $350 billion federal program passed by Congress last week, that formally launched Friday through the Small Business Administration. It offers small businesses low-interest loans, and the loans would be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks, and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

This program will help Kansas small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll and will be available through June, she said.

Lenders are bracing for an onslaught of applications, she said. Kansas banks only received final rules and guidance for the program from the federal government last night, and the governor urged small businesses to apply and to be patient with local lenders as they work through the regulations as quickly as possible.

Gov. Kelly also said the state launched a new jobs website through the Kansas Department of Commerce, connecting job seekers with businesses, including some essential positions. The website, kansasworks.com/coronavirus, allows businesses to post positions that are open, at no cost to the employer or job seeker.

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

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at
https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus.

The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at
www.wycokck.org/COVID-19.

COVID-19 information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

UG Health Department opens COVID-19 testing site

An additional COVID-19 death was reported in Wyandotte County on Friday, and the current case number was 130 positive cases as of 12:50 p.m. Friday. (Graphic from UG Health Department COVID-19 website)
A graph on the UG’s COVID-19 website showed the rise of cases in Wyandotte County. (UG COVID-19 website)
A Zip Code map on the UG’s COVID-19 website showed the number of positive cases and where they were located. At 12:50 p.m. Friday, there were 35 cases in 66112; 29 cases in 66109; 28 cases in 66104; 16 cases in 66102; 6 cases in 66106; 5 cases in 66012; and 5 cases in 66101. (Map from UG’s COVID-19 website)

The Unified Government Health Department is opening a COVID-19 testing site today at the Health Department parking lot, 619 Ann Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.

Those Wyandotte County residents who are eligible for testing, according to a UG news release, will have to schedule a time to drive or walk-through for testing.

According to the UG’s COVID-19 website, there were 130 positive cases with one additional death reported in Wyandotte County at 12:50 p.m. Friday, April 3. There were a total of six COVID-19 related deaths in Wyandotte County.

The testing site will be open from 2 to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The testing site will be in a trailer in the parking lot at the Health Department and City Hall. Patients should use the self-reporting tool on the UG’s website first or call ahead to 311.

Some residents have had difficulty in getting tested for COVID-19, with a nationwide scarcity of test kits and supplies needed for the tests. Some local doctors’ offices are not offering the tests. Tests are available for those who qualify and had symptoms at the Dr. Sharon Lee Family Health Clinic on Southwest Boulevard, with patients calling ahead to see if they qualify.

Testing priority at the new testing site at the Health Department will go to those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever of more than 100 degrees, shortness of breath and a dry, unproductive cough, according to a spokesman.

Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer for the UG Health Department, in a news release acknowledged the importance of increased testing for Wyandotte.

“Ramping up testing capacity in Wyandotte means getting a better picture of what we are really dealing with,” Dr. Corriveau stated. “We felt it was a key part of our purpose as a local health department to help make this happen. More testing for our community will help us see where and how COVID-19 is spreading. This is crucial information to help us more effectively stop the spread of this disease in our community.”

To run the new test site, the UG Health Department Emergency Preparedness trailer will be stationed in the parking lot next to the Health Department and City Hall. The trailer is equipped with the appropriate supplies and technology for staff to operate outside of the building, according to a spokesman. Staff will have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe while they collect specimens from patients for testing, the spokesman stated.

Residents who think they may have COVID-19 should report their symptoms from home to see if they are eligible for testing, according to the news release. One way Wyandotte residents can report symptoms is through the UG’s online “Self-Report Your Symptoms” tool.

“We encourage people to use the confidential self-reporting tool if they are experiencing symptoms like fever, new onset cough, or shortness of breath,” Dr. Corriveau stated. “Once someone reports symptoms online, our Health Department staff will reach out to them to provide guidance on what to do if they’re feeling ill, and with details regarding how to get tested. Self-reporting symptoms online also gives our disease investigators more data to track the spread of COVID-19 in our county.”

The reporting tool is available in English and Spanish at wycokck.org/COVID-19. Residents who do not have access to the internet can call 3-1-1 to report their symptoms.

People with COVID-19 symptoms can also call their primary care provider to report their symptoms and be referred for testing. Health Department staff have worked closely with community clinics so that they are prepared to submit testing referrals to the new Health Department site, according to the news release.

The testing clinic will run from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No unscheduled “walk-ups” or “drive-ups” will be accepted for testing, according to the Health Department. Location and hours are subject to change. Testing is offered for Wyandotte County residents only at this time.

For more information on COVID-19 in Wyandotte County, go to www.wycokck.org/COVID-19, or call 3-1-1.

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at
https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus.

The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at
www.wycokck.org/COVID-19.

COVID-19 information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at
https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus.

COVID-19 information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.