Doctors remind people to continue social distancing and health measures while in public

Monday morning’s COVID-19 report in Wyandotte County showed a cumulative total of 1,359 cases and 74 deaths. There was an increase of one death since Sunday. (UG COVID-19 webpage)

COVID-19 is still out there, and those who go out in public should wear masks and keep 6 feet away from others, according to doctors at the University of Kansas Health System.

They discussed recent events including weekend protests in Kansas City, Missouri, over the George Floyd death in Minnesota, as well as a social gathering at the Lake of the Ozarks. At a news conference, they discussed if the events were an increased risk of spreading COVID-19. They also heard from COVID-19 survivors.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the KU Health System, said, “It just feels so hauntingly familiar to hear ‘I can’t breathe’ from patients and from individuals suffering in the streets.”

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said it appeared some of the marchers were close together, which presents a risk of getting COVID-19. He advised people to stay 6 to 10 feet apart and wear masks when in a group.

Anthony Nickens, an employee at KU Health System who has recovered from COVID-19, said that COVID-19 patients have felt restricted, that they couldn’t go everywhere they wanted to go and weren’t as free as they wanted to be. “African-Americans have been in that state for a long time,” he said.

Nickens encouraged people to be safe, to understand that people need to get their voices out, to wear a mask and to keep 6 feet of distance away from others.

Nickens described his family’s experiences in COVID-19, and his mother, Maxine Nickens, a COVID-19 survivor, also had advice.

“It’s real, it’s terrible,” she said. She has told co-workers to stay safe. She said the coronavirus is sneaky, and you don’t know where it is. People need to wash their hands and keep everything clean, she said.

“Know that it’s real and know that you’re not exempt from it, you’ve got to protect yourself,” she said.

Susan Robare’s husband, a correctional worker at the Lansing Correctional Facility, died after contracting COVID-19.

“I’ve thought about making a sign when I go out,” Robare said during the news conference. “You don’t know who you’re going to infect.

“My husband died from this,” she said. “It is serious. People think they’re immune to it, and they’re not. They may be asymptomatic, but you don’t know who you’re going to take it home to.

“So please take it seriously. Do what you can to protect yourself and your loved ones,” she said.

Dr. Hawkinson said people are most infectious one to two days prior to having any symptoms to a few days after they are better. People don’t always know when they are sick, he said.

“You could be spreading the disease or virus without you ever feeling sick, ever,” Dr. Hawkinson said, “or, one to two days prior to you getting symptoms.”

Dr. Hawkinson reported that KU Health System had 17 positive COVID-19 patients, with five in the intensive care unit and three on ventilators. He said they had some discharges and some new admissions, with numbers staying pretty stable. There were 15 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Friday.

In Wyandotte County, the Unified Government Health Department webpage reported 1,359 cumulative COVID-19 cases at midday Monday, June 1, with 74 deaths and 22 persons hospitalized. There were 465 recoveries reported. It was an increase of 12 cases and one death since Sunday.

On the UG COVID-19 hub, the outbreak map shows cases now have been reported at a total of 16 at the Amazon facility at 6925 Riverview Ave., with the last case reported on May 28.

The KU doctors’ news conference is at

The UG’s COVID-19 information page is at

Wyandotte County is currently under the state’s Phase 2 plan at

The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at

Additional guidelines from the governor’s office about Phase 2 are at

Test sites are listed at

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at

KCK playground facilities reopen

Playground equipment at publicly-owned parks in Kansas City, Kansas, reopened recently.

“Park crews began to reopen playgrounds over the Memorial Day weekend, a sign of hope and positive progress as our community continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time of uncertainty, our parks are needed now more than ever, so that families and individuals can get outside for fresh air, sunshine, and exercise – which is a great way to cope with the stress caused by the past few weeks of restrictions. A big thanks to our community for their patience during this time, and a shout out to parks staff on the front lines, who are keeping our parks clean and safe,” said Angel Obert, deputy parks and recreation director.

The decision to reopen playground equipment was made after extensive consultation with the Unified Government’s Health Department. Playground equipment was initially closed on March 21 out of an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working together, the Unified Government’s Parks and Recreation and Health departments issued Parks and Recreation reopening guidelines based on recommendations from the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) and the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association (KPRA). The guidelines follow the same Ad Astra Phase 2 guidance adopted by Wyandotte County’s chief medical officer on May 20. The guidance document is available online at The KPRA’s guidance document is available online at

“As we go through the process of gradually reopening our community, it is essential that we take a methodical approach to reinstating operations that protect public health and safety within our parks and recreation facilities,” Obert said. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff of park and recreation professionals have leveraged the role they play in our community, swiftly reacting to keep parks, trails, and green spaces open to support physical and mental health.”

Although playground equipment is now open, visitors are encouraged to maintain social distancing, practice good hygiene (such as not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and covering sneezes and coughs with a tissue or your elbow), and to use hand sanitizer before and after using playground equipment. Visitors will need to bring their own hand sanitizer to parks and recreation facilities. Where available, park restrooms may be used to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

“We encourage parents to make sure children understand the importance of social distancing, and maintaining at least six feet between themselves and other children and adults that they don’t live with,” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer with the Unified Government Health Department. “Children over the age of two and adults who are supervising play should continue to wear a mask while in public as well. This combination of social distancing, masks, and good hygiene is our best way to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Residents with questions about the Parks and Recreation Reopening plan should contact 3-1-1. To learn more about the county’s COVID-19 response, access FAQs, and view additional information, visit

Bars and nightclubs open today in Wyandotte County

There were 1329 total cumulative COVID-19 cases reported at 11:40 a.m. Friday in Wyandotte County. (UG COVID-19 webpage)

Bars and nightclubs opened at noon Friday in Wyandotte County, with some restrictions in place.

No more than 15 people will be allowed inside the building, and they will have to be six feet apart, according to a Unified Government Health Department spokesman, Janell Friesen.

Only people living in the same household can be within six feet, according to the UG Health Department’s rules. Also, outdoor seating will be encouraged, with people spaced six feet apart.

In addition, servers and staff will have to wear masks, according to the new rules. They will have to wash hands frequently, and hand sanitizer must be available throughout the establishment. Surfaces will have to be disinfected frequently, according to the rules.

The customers are not mandated to wear masks, according to the spokesman; as in restaurants, it might be difficult.

Nearby, bars and nightclubs have been able to open in Johnson County and Wichita after the governor made the Ad Astra plan a guidance document, not mandatory, following the Legislature’s challenge to her orders. Kansas City, Missouri, will start a new phase on May 31 that will allow 50 percent capacity in its bars, with social distancing.

Restaurants and retail stores already were allowed to reopen in Phase 2, so Friesen said this will be the same treatment as other businesses.

Today, Kansas Health Secretary Dr. Lee Norman was asked during his news conference about bars reopening in Johnson County, Wyandotte County and Wichita, and he said, in general, any mass gathering exceeding the Ad Astra plan would be ill-advised.

He said he hoped people would pay attention to the metrics and the reopening plan and follow it.

“I would hope parents would give young people guidance, and would accept that guidance for themselves, with bars and places that are inherently unsafe, because that guidance is still out there,” he said.

However, if activities are held in keeping with the plan’s requirements on mass gatherings and social distancing, and if people are not close to others who might be infectious, then it could be in keeping with the reopening plan, he added.

Friesen said any business reopening now needs to be seen with caution, and the business needs to take safety measures, with customers also taking safety measures.

“COVID is still a real risk for the community,” she said. “While we’re reopening more, we still have to be very careful.”

She added they are trying to strike a balance between getting folks back to work and some normalcy, while still trying to help people keep safe.

The UG’s news release on the reopening of bars and nightclubs stated that aside from the new rules for bars and nightclubs, the rest of the Phase 2 plan remains the same in Wyandotte County.

“We believe staying in Phase 2 is still the best approach at this time to cautiously start re-opening while protecting Wyandotte County residents and workers,” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer with the Health Department, in a news release. “It has become clear, however, that this was placing undue restrictions on bars and nightclubs compared to other businesses, and this looked different from the restrictions in neighboring communities. So long as they implement appropriate safety measures such as social distancing, bars and nightclubs do not inherently pose greater risks than other types of businesses that have already been able to reopen.

“While it’s exciting to see more and more of our community’s businesses reopening in a sensible, step-by-step manner, it’s also important to remember that COVID-19 remains a serious threat in Wyandotte County,” Dr. Corriveau said. “All of us in the community should still take precautions to slow the spread of the virus. This includes wearing a mask when out in public, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and maintaining at least six feet of distance between yourself and people you don’t live with. This combination of common sense precautions will continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Wyandotte County and allow us to keep moving forward in our reopening process.”

Vulnerable populations, including people over 60 years old, individuals who have compromised immune systems, or who have underlying medical conditions should avoid close contact with others by practicing social distancing as much as is possible, according to the Health Department. The Health Department recommended wearing a mask or face-covering in public.

Phase 2 will remain in effect until at least June 8, according to the Health Department. County health officials will continue to monitor key data on the status of COVID-19 to determine next steps in the community’s reopening process. Those metrics include:

• The number of hospitalizations and deaths in Wyandotte County and surrounding area hospitals over a 14-day period, and
• The percentage of positive tests over a 14-day period.

Health officials are making sure that local hospitals are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases and that vulnerable populations, including those over 60, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical conditions, are protected, according to the UG news release.

Residents with questions about the Phase 2 plan may contact 3-1-1 or visit the “ReStart WyCo” tab available at . To learn more about the county’s COVID-19 response, access FAQs, and view additional information, visit

At 11:40 a.m. May 29, the UG’s COVID-19 website stated that there were a cumulative total of 1,329 positive COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths in Wyandotte County, with 22 patients hospitalized. It was an increase of 21 cases since Thursday at 3:50 p.m.

The local health order concerning bars and nightclubs reopening is online at

The UG’s COVID-19 information page is at

Wyandotte County is currently under the state’s Phase 2 plan at

The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at

Additional guidelines from the governor’s office about Phase 2 are at

Test sites are listed at

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at