Local agencies, including BPU, continue dealing with COVID-19 and its challenges

On Sunday, Aug. 9, the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage reported cumulative 4,864 positive COVID-19 cases, an increase of 32 from Saturday. There were no additional deaths; the cumulative number of deaths stayed at 99.
An electronic sign over State Avenue near The Legends Outlets and Kansas Speedway tells motorists, in Spanish and English, “Protect Yourself. Wear a Mask in Public.”

The Board of Public Utilities reported at its meeting on Wednesday night, Aug. 5, that it had six positive COVID-19 employees still in quarantine, with 17 total employees quarantined.

Eleven of the 17 are in self-quarantine because of possible direct exposures, whether at home or at work, according to Dennis Dumovich, with human resources at BPU. He gave a COVID-19 update at the BPU’s regular meeting, held on Zoom Aug. 5.

So far, the BPU has had 10 positive results for employees, with 98 total employees who have been quarantined for different reasons, including potential direct exposure at work or home, or people who have gone on vacation to hotspot areas, people who are caring for a family member who is ill, or people who have underlying health conditions not allowing them to come to work, according to Dumovich. They have recently seen a little spike in their results, he added.

He said the BPU has performed pretty well during this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been very lucky, and because of the precautions taken, there was not any positive spread in any of the departments.

BPU General Manager Bill Johnson said at the meeting they have been discussing making a few modifications for COVID-19. These include staggered shifts, rotations and other modifications, he added.

The BPU is fully compliant with the mask order, he said, with employees wearing masks while at work and also social distancing.

They also have been discussing the potential effect of schools starting a little later than normal, and its effect on the staff needing time off, he said. They will be trying to adjust around the start of local schools to accommodate employees, he added.

BPU officials met last Tuesday with Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer of Wyandotte County. Johnson said they had a few questions about when people need to test.

There have been some rules that changed about testing from the national, state and local levels, he said. Johnson said the BPU is properly aligned with all the orders coming from the health department, and continues to be sensitive to the need to protect everyone, to stay in touch with the health department, to keep all protections in place and keep BPU employees safe.

Dumovich said, in answer to a question from board member Mary Gonzales, that formerly the BPU required employees who had a direct exposure to a positive patient to go into self-quarantine, get tested and if the test was negative, return to work.

As of July 23, the health department standard practice changed to if an employee has a direct exposure and tests negative, he will stay quarantined for 14 days after the date of that test. He said the health department does not want the person to get another test to return to work after the 14 days.

That’s because after 14 days the patient can no longer transmit COVID-19, according to health officials. Even though COVID-19 patients can’t transmit it, they may show up positive if they get tested again, he said. So the health department no longer recommends that the patient must have a negative test before returning to work, he said.

Dumovich added that the BPU may have to bring up that issue with employees’ physicians who are not used to treating COVID-19 patients, and the health department doctors have offered to write letters in those cases, stating that they don’t want the employees retested.

Extension office closes to public for two weeks because of COVID-19

The Wyandotte County Extension office has closed to the public for two weeks because one staff member was exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an announcement made on Monday, Aug. 3.

The staff now is working remotely until Monday, Aug. 17, according to the announcement, and the public may reach staff by phone and email, with contact information at www.wyandotte.ksu.edu, or the Extension office Facebook page, www.facebook.com/wycoksre.

The Extension office on North 79th was a polling place on Aug. 4.  The Wyandotte County election commissioner said this COVID-19 case had no effect at all on voters because the Wildcat Room at the Extension office, where voting is held, had not been used by anyone recently.

On Sunday, Aug. 9, the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage reported cumulative 4,864 positive COVID-19 cases, an increase of 32 from Saturday. There were no additional deaths; the cumulative number of deaths stayed at 99.

Free testing offered

Free COVID-19 testing is planned from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at Oak Ridge Missionary Baptist Church, 9301 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, call 311.

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 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.

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