As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Kansas, there has also been an increase in violence, according to a trauma injury prevention education specialist at the University of Kansas Health System.
Olivia Desmarais, RN, former trauma nurse and now a trauma prevention education specialist, at a Tuesday news conference discussed violence against those who are 12 to 24 years old. Violence has increased in that group, and some believe it is tied to COVID-19 and increased stresses in society.
Desmarais discussed the Reducing Effects of Violence through Intervention and Victim Empowerment (REVIVE) program, which helps connect victims of violence with community programs.
Damon Daniel, president of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, said that violence is the leading cause of death among 10 to 14 year olds. The Ad Hoc group is one of several programs working with the REVIVE program to help change violence.
Daniel said violence is a learned behavior and people should strive for change while practicing forgiveness.
Dr. Jomella Watson-Thompson said lack of employment and economic insecurity is one reason behind the increase in violence during the pandemic. She said it is a community-wide problem, and she was grateful that this program can help bring resources together. She discussed ways the community can help.
Also speaking at the news conference was Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman. Dr. Norman said the KDHE has a new video feature, “Faces of COVID,” which includes first-hand accounts from Kansas residents who have dealt with the virus.
One video featured a 42-year-old mother of four, Amy Carrillo, from Lawrence, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. While she didn’t think much about it at first, later her symptoms worsened. She experienced severe chest pain, and was in bed for a month. The symptoms lasted four months, and only in the past few weeks, her lungs stopped hurting.
Dr. Norman said the state is seeing 360 new cases a day, and he hoped that by sharing their own personal stories, the COVID-19 patients will reach people and help lower the number of new cases with Labor Day and school reopening approaching.
Dr. Norman said he anticipated an increase in cases around Labor Day, when people traditionally get together, and some could let their guards down.
He also expected to see higher numbers when schools are in session and the weather gets colder. Currently the state is seeing higher numbers of positive cases, and at the same time, the overall 14-day trend line is better, the hospitalization rate is better and the death rate is better. He said on balance, people are taking the masks more seriously. Overall, it’s improving with some problem areas, he added.
Since governments are not giving mandatory orders at the federal and state levels on COVID-19, Dr. Norman said people need to take the responsibility individually, and all need to “own our own preparedness.”
COVID-19 cases increased by 108 on Tuesday in Wyandotte County, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. There was one more death from Monday.
KU Health System reported 27 patients in the hospital for COVID-19, down from 30 on Monday, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection control and prevention at KU Health System. Six of the patients were in the intensive care unit, with five on ventilators, the same as Monday. After peaking at 36 patients last week, doctors hope the trend continues to decline as Labor Day approaches, with reopening of schools.
Free testing offered
Free COVID-19 testing is planned from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, at Zotung Christian Church, 5010 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas.
The pop-up test is offered through Vibrant Health and the Health Equity Task Force.
Free testing also is offered 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 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.
The KU doctors’ news conference is online at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/1005880593185089
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.