$9 million in CDBG funds to become available for small businesses and meal programs in Kansas

New cases in Kansas are in blue and total cases are in yellow in this KDHE chart. (KDHE chart)
A 14-day rolling average of positive cases in Wyandotte County was shown in this graph online at the Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 page. (UG COVID-19 Hub)

An additional $9 million in Community Development Block Grant funds will be made available in Kansas at the local level for economic development and meal programs, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said today.

The money is being allocated through the federal CARES Act, and will be for local community areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know COVID-19 has taken a toll on businesses across the state,” Gov. Kelly said at a news conference today. “These grant funds will cover critical investments, help small businesses keep their doors open, and keep Kansans employed.”

The federal grant funds may be used for working capital such as wages, rent, utilities and inventory purchases, she said. For example, out-of-work hairstylists at closed salons can be kept on the payroll, or a small catering business may receive funds to purchase food for reopening.

To qualify, a business must have 51 percent or more of the employees who meet low to moderate income standards as determined by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cities that apply for meal program grant must have a population that meet or exceeds 51 percent of low to moderate income guidelines. Examples of program that might qualify include food banks, Meals on Wheels programs for homebound seniors, or providing meals for schoolchildren who don’t have access to school nutrition programs.

Cities and counties may apply for up to $300,000 for economic development grants and up to $100,000 for meal programs, she said.

The program will allow decision-making to happen at the local level, she said. Applications for grants will open at 1 p.m. May 12 and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been disbursed, she said. More information is at kansascommerce.gov/cdbg-CV.

“The CDBG funding is just one piece of our state’s far-reaching recovery strategies,” Gov. Kelly said.

As the recovery unfolds, it’s important to remember to safe practice, she said. She thanks businesses that reopened with safe practices in place to keep customers and workers safe and healthy.

“I know it’s difficult, but we cannot let our guard down. We’re still a long way from beating COVID-19,” she said, so it’s important to continue being diligent.

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, said there were 7,116 positive COVID-19 cases in Kansas today, an increase of 132 since Sunday, with 158 deaths, an increase of one since Sunday.

The state is monitoring 78 clusters, he said, including 29 in private companies with 427 cases and five deaths; 24 in long-term care facilities with 575 cases and 92 deaths; nine in church and other related gatherings with 114 cases and nine deaths; seven in meatpacking plants with 1,280 cases and two deaths; three in group living situations with 41 cases and zero deaths; three in correctional facilities, with 863 cases and three deaths; and three in health care settings, with 22 cases and no deaths.

Dr. Norman said the state will be moving some of the epidemiology staff into helping the counties more, and will be changing its data updates to three times a week instead of daily.

He encouraged people to call their health care provider to get tested if they have symptoms, as more tests are now available.

Wyandotte County reported 1,078 cases at 4:05 p.m. May 11, with 65 deaths, one more death than on Sunday, an increase of nine cases, and the same number of hospitalizations.

State case counts in other counties

On Monday, according to the KDHE, Leavenworth County reported a total of 939 confirmed and probable cases. Testing of inmates has been completed at Lansing Correctional Facility.

Johnson County reported 611 confirmed and probable cases, according to the KDHE.

Eighty-three counties reported confirmed and probable positive cases on Monday, according to KDHE, and some of them included: Ford County (Dodge City area), 1,135; Seward County (Liberal area), 693; Finney County (Garden City area), 905; Sedgwick County (Wichita area), 451; Lyon County (Emporia area), 334; and Shawnee County (Topeka area), 165.

Douglas County (Lawrence area) reported 57 cases, and Riley County (Manhattan area) reported 58 cases, according to the KDHE.

To view the governor’s news conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/904749063357797/?v=904749063357797.

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at https://covid.ks.gov/.

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

Wyandotte County testing locations are online at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19

and also at http://wyandottedaily.com/task-force-expands-pop-up-testing-in-wyandotte-county/.

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

The Wyandotte County reopening plan, a 41-page document, was posted Thursday, April 30, at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/RestartWYCOGuidanceDocument043020.pdf.

Information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/.

Tips for safety offered in reopening under ‘red zone’

Wyandotte County reported 1,078 COVID-19 cases on Monday morning, an increase of nine since Sunday. (UG COVID-19 webpage)
Kansas reported 7,116 cases in 83 counties on Monday, an increase of 132 cases since Sunday, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There were 158 deaths, an increase of one since Sunday. (KDHE map)

As Wyandotte County reopened Monday under the “red zone,” doctors at the University of Kansas Health System offered some tips to residents to remain safe.

For Wyandotte County, one of the main changes under the “red zone” is that some offices, manufacturing plants and workplaces can reopen. They should maintain 6 feet of space between persons, and everyone must wear masks.

Restaurants in Wyandotte County still will be carryout only, and hair salons are still closed under Wyandotte County’s “red zone.” The restaurants will not reopen until the “yellow zone,” two weeks or more away, at 25 percent capacity.

Retail stores will be accepting phone and online orders, with pickup of ordered items allowed outside or inside.

Churches in Wyandotte County may reopen with 10 percent of the building’s capacity in the “red zone,” maintaining social distancing, avoiding close contact, wearing masks and other rules. Drive-in services still are allowed.

Residents should still stay at home as much as possible in the “red zone,” and should not congregate with others who are not members of their immediate household, according to the Wyandotte County plan. Outdoor activities with other people may involve up to 10 persons, maintaining social distancing.

Those businesses that were open under the “stay-at-home” orders will be able to remain open. Those persons who are older than 60, have underlying medical conditions or who are sick are still asked to stay home.

Wearing a mask is important when people are out in public and in the workplace, especially in areas where they cannot maintain a 6-foot distance, said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health Services.

Amanda Gartner, RN, director of quality and safety at KU Health Services, said the masks provide source control, keeping the wearer’s droplets closer, so they don’t spread out and infect other people.

One office worker didn’t believe she needed to wear a mask, because she was just sitting at her desk, but Gartner advised her to wear a mask because people came over to her desk often and she couldn’t always maintain a 6-foot distance, Gartner said.

Dr. Hawkinson said it was also important to have hand sanitizer at work, avoid touching one’s face and wipe down surfaces.

Gartner said she carries hand sanitizer in her car at all times, and she wears a mask when going to the grocery store. Not everyone is currently wearing a mask at the grocery store, the doctors remarked, from their own personal experience.

The Wyandotte County “red zone” plan states that people should wear masks when they are at stores and in public.

The doctors stated they often wipe down cans, bottles and chip bags when they return home from the grocery store. Washing off vegetables and fruits as they normally do is probably OK, Dr. Hawkinson said.

Dr. Hawkinson said he is not aware of any cases of COVID-19 from bringing items home from a grocery store, while it is more likely to contract the virus while someone is at the store.

Dr. Hawkinson said fingertips and palms need to be washed frequently with soap and water, especially if people have itchy, dry eyes and tend to touch their faces. If possible, use sanitizer, he said.

“This is all about relative risk and not absolute safety,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said. People, in general, can’t live in a bubble and will have to re-enter society at some time.

Each person has to determine his own level of risk and decide who’s in their bubble, he said.

According to Gartner, a group of eight friends sitting at the same table at a restaurant may be more likely to transmit the disease if not socially distancing, and that is fairly risky.

Dr. Hawkinson said it is possible to come into contact with droplets on inanimate objects such as a coffee creamer container or syrup container at restaurants.

As youth sports start to open up in some places, the doctors doubted whether it was good idea to start the youth leagues up yet. It’s hard to tell, but there is often some risk in the close contact of youth while playing sports, and also in carpooling back and forth to practices, according to the doctors.

The Wyandotte County plan’s outdoor activities section advises residents never to congregate with others who are not members of their own immediate household. For children, use of commonly touched items such as balls, sports equipment and toys is discouraged if the children are not in the same household.

The doctors do not believe there is any risk for “over-sanitizing.”

According to Dr. Hawkinson, people will still come into contact with antigens and pathogens every day in the air, and frequent hand-washing and sanitizing will not decrease that. Sanitizing will not hurt the immune system, he said.

Dr. Hawkinson said as other places around the world have started to open up, they have started to see more COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Stites said where people are congregating, the risk is still there and will still be around June 15, even if all the restrictions come off.

“The rules haven’t changed just because the calendar did,” he said. “What you still have to do is think about what is the personally responsible thing to do. It’s not up to the politicians to tell you what to do.”

“Even as life opens up, you still have to go about your life in a way that is personally responsible,” Dr. Stites said.

He said people who are wondering if it is safe to go to work have to evaluate their circumstances and personal risk and determine what they can do to make their environment safer. They should wear a mask, and if possible, a shield. They should continue washing their hands.

Dr. Hawkinson reported the number of positive COVID-19 inpatients increased a little over the weekend at KU Health System, and is at 28 today, with 11 patients in the intensive care unit. The number was 24 patients on Friday, when nine patients were in the ICU unit.

Wyandotte County reported 1,078 positive COVID-19 cases at 11:55 a.m. Monday, an increase of nine since Sunday afternoon. There were 40 patients hospitalized, and 64 deaths, the same number as Sunday.

Kansas reported 7,116 cases in 83 counties on Monday, an increase of 132 cases since Sunday, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There were 158 deaths, an increase of one since Sunday.

To see more of the doctors’ responses at the KU Health System news conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/239218183956749/.

More information about the “red zone” rules is online at the ReStart WyCo hub at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/restartwyco.

The ReStart WyCo plan is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/RestartWYCOGuidanceDocument043020.pdf.

Several Wyandotte County pop-up testing sites are listed at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.

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

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at https://covid.ks.gov/.

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

Information from the CDC is at

A chart from the Unified Government Health Department shows what is opening in the “red zone,” which starts today. (UG Health Department graphic)

COVID-19 cases increase; Wyandotte County plans to reopen to ‘red zone’ on Monday

Wyandotte County reported 1,038 total COVID-19 cases on Saturday, including 38 new cases. The number of deaths and hospitalizations was the same. (UG COVID-19 webpage)
Kansas reported 6,751 positive cases on Saturday, an increase of 250 cases since Friday. (KDHE map)

Wyandotte County reported 1,038 total positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday, an increase of about 38 cases since Friday.

There were no increases in hospitalizations or deaths, according to the Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 webpage.

Kansas reported 6,751 positive cases on Saturday, an increase of 250 cases. There were 157 total deaths, an increase of five since Friday, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment figures.

The UG Health Department has a guide to reopening in Wyandotte County. For more information, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/restartwyco.

Reopening ‘red zone’ begins Monday

Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer for the Unified Government, has loosened stay-at-home restrictions effective at 11:59 p.m. May 10 in Wyandotte County.

The loosening of restrictions means that Wyandotte County residents and businesses will now enter the red zone of the ReStart WyCo Road to Recovery plan released on May 1.

The red zone phase of the plan becomes effective at midnight after Sunday night, and it will last from May 11 until at least May 25.

Each phase, or zone, of the ReStart WyCo plan will be in place for at least 14 days because the incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days, according to the UG Health Department. This allows the UG Health Department to monitor the population for further outbreaks of the virus, for the duration of one incubation period.

What is the red zone?

The red zone is a phase listed in the Road to Recovery guidance document prepared by the ReStart WyCo committee formed by Mayor David Alvey. The ReStart WyCo committee is made up of health professionals and business representatives from throughout Wyandotte County.

The Road to Recovery document provides guidance on a four-phased approach to reopening various public-facing businesses and organizational sectors of the community in a way that ensures a high degree of safety is maintained for everyone, according to the health department.

The ReStart WyCo Road to Recovery document includes sector-specific guidance for a range of businesses, including offices, retail, restaurants, and much more. The intent of the guidance is to provide practical steps that businesses can take to protect employees and customers while re-opening in a safe and controlled manner.

Each phase provides a different level of guidance to help save lives and reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus. To view or download the Road to Recovery document, visit the ReStart WyCo Hub at wycokck.org/COVID-19.

“As we enter the red zone, actions like social distancing and excellent personal hygiene will continue to be effective tools to help keep everyone safe. It’s important to understand that just as we can move toward fewer restrictions in our day-to-day activities, if the data shows it’s needed, we may have to return to more restrictions for limited periods of time. Our goal is to re-open our community step-by-step, while not compromising the health of any of our residents,” Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer, said.

The red zone relaxes stay-at-home requirements but recommends the highest level of caution for vulnerable community members while providing guidance on how some businesses may open safely with certain restrictions.

Examples of loosened restrictions for some sectors:

• General population
o Outdoor activities in groups of up to 10 are allowed with social distancing
• Retail
o In-store pickup is allowed with social distancing, but delivery and curbside pickup are encouraged when possible
o Common areas should be adjusted to maintain 6 feet of distance between workers
• Offices
o Employees should be allowed to work from home where possible
o Office space should be adjusted to maintain 6 feet of distance between workers
• Construction
o All construction where workers can easily maintain 6-foot social distancing is allowed
• Mass sporting events
o May be held without fans physically attending

Detailed information and categories concerning bars, exercise venues, places of worship, manufacturing, and more is available in the ReStart WyCo Road to Recovery document. To view or download the Road to Recovery document, visit the ReStart WyCo Hub at wycokck.org/COVID-19.

Reducing exposure remains the best defense

If businesses can continue to operate remotely, they are strongly encouraged to do so. COVID-19 remains a threat and minimizing exposure by working remotely continues to be a recommended strategy for limiting the spread of the virus, the health department stated.

The ReStart WyCo guidance retains more restrictive recommendations throughout the reopening phases for vulnerable populations, including people over 60 years old, immune-compromised, or with underlying medical conditions.

How to know when it is time to change zones?

Mayor Alvey and Dr. Greiner have been clear from the beginning that COVID-19 data will dictate when it is safe for the community to advance from zone to zone, the health department stated. Moving from one zone to the next will involve carefully considering:

• 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.

If, after 14 days, there is a reduction in deaths, hospitalizations, and positive tests, the county will be able to further relax guidance by moving on to the next zone, according to the health department. The recommendation on whether or not to move to the next zone will be provided by Dr. Greiner before May 25. If there is not a reduction in deaths, hospitalizations and positive tests, or if these numbers have increased, Dr. Greiner may recommend staying at the current zone for a period of time, or possibly recommend that we return to an earlier zone.

What are the four zones of the Road to Recovery document?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread in Wyandotte County, health officials stated. To protect against the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of everyone in the community, the ReStart WyCo Committee formed by Mayor David Alvey developed sector-specific reopening guidance outlined in the Road to Recovery document.

Stay at Home orders are quite stringent and ask that only essential businesses remain open. There is still a chance we may need to Stay at Home again in the future. The Red Zone is slightly relaxed compared to Stay at Home but is far from “business as usual.” Red Zone still recommends the highest level of caution for vulnerable community members, while also offering guidance on how some businesses may open safely. During Yellow Zone restrictions, more businesses may open, but caution is still required. Green Zone is the least stringent phase and offers few staffing restrictions while still urging some cautions.

  1. Stay at home
    a. This is the zone Wyandotte County has been in since March 24. The stay-at-home period in Wyandotte County will end at 11:59 p.m. May 10. Stay at home requires that only essential businesses remain open.
  2. Red zone
    a. This zone relaxes the stay-at-home requirements but recommends the highest level of caution for vulnerable community members while providing guidance on how some businesses may open safely, but with certain restrictions. Wyandotte County will enter the red zone at midnight after Sunday night and remain in the red zone until at least May 25.
  3. Yellow zone
    a. This zone relaxes stay at home requirements even further while allowing more businesses to open under caution.
  4. Green zone
    a. This is the least stringent zone, though it retains some restrictions on staffing levels, event attendance, in-person dining, and group gatherings

“The last several months have been difficult for Wyandotte County, with many affected by business closures, financial insecurity, or even the loss of friends or family,” Mayor David Alvey said. “While our focus on public health and prevention will continue, we are now also looking to the future, and this shift to the Red Zone on May 11th is a first step in that direction. By continuing to work together, we will restore and reopen our community at the appropriate time and in the right way, overcoming the public health crisis that has threatened so many and altered our way of life.”

Residents or businesses with questions or comments about the Road to Recovery document may contact 311 or visit the ReStart WyCo Hub at wycokck.org/COVID-19.

  • Wyandotte County information from UG Health Department

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

The Kansas COVID-19 website is ahttps://covid.ks.gov/.

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

Information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/.