Positive COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County increased another 16, according to the 9:55 a.m. Thursday report, to 377 cases. There were 31 total deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic started. (Information from UG COVID-19 page)
As positive COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County rose another 16 from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, part of the metropolitan area is preparing to extend the stay-at-home order through May 15.
On Wednesday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly extended the state of Kansas stay-at-home order through midnight May 3. The governor’s order supersedes all local orders in Kansas. Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas has stated he will extend the stay-at-home order through May 15 on the Kansas City, Missouri, side of the metro area, following a nine-county health directors’ recommendation.
Mayor Lucas’ extension of the stay-at-home order through May 15 was supported by some business leaders including Joe Reardon, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, as well as other leaders.
“We encourage the rest of the region’s cities and counties to follow the health officials’ recommendation as well,” the business leaders said in a news release. “Any decision must be based on the best scientific data we have available and a truly regional approach to stay-at-home orders is the best way to contain the spread of the virus and the deaths that would follow. Taking these precautions now will help prepare our region for a more effective economic recovery when the time is right. Our three organizations stand ready to work with our elected leaders, public health officials, and business leaders in the coming weeks to fully restore our economy. ”
According to a UG news release on Thursday morning, Wyandotte County will continue to operate under Gov. Kelly’s order, while taking additional steps to manage the pandemic, including increasing local testing and conducting outreach to the most vulnerable residents.
The Unified Government Board of Health is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Thursday.
On Wednesday evening, regional public health officers and directors in a nine-county area, including Wyandotte County, announced a recommendation to extend local stay-at-home orders through May 15, according to the Mid-America Regional Council.
According to the regional KC announcement by MARC, the recommendation was based on estimates of the anticipated peak of infection in the metro area at the end of April, the need to have infrastructure and staff in place to monitor new cases as they arise thereafter, and the importance of a joint policy to prevent increasing the spread of the virus between different counties and municipalities in the metro area.
The counties and cities are coordinating their efforts to ease restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, according to the announcement. The peak infection date in the metro area may vary from the statewide peaks in Kansas and Missouri, according to the local health directors.
“It’s very important that residents continue to comply with the stay-at-home orders,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County – Kansas City, Kansas, in the MARC announcement Wednesday night. “We see that staying home is working and we hope to gradually ease restrictions as soon as it’s safe.”
Wyandotte County reported 377 positive COVID-19 cases on Thursday morning, an increase from 361 reported on Wednesday morning. The number of deaths, 31, remained the same early Thursday morning.
Public health officials recommended that residents:
• Stay home. The best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
• If you must be out, stay six feet or more away from others and wear a fabric or paper mask
• Wash your hands often.
• Avoid touching your hands to your face.
• Cover coughs and sneezes.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
At a news conference Thursday morning, doctors at the University of Kansas Health System answered a question about the stay-at-home order. They focus on the medical aspects of what will save the most lives, but they acknowledged there are other concerns such as economic well-being, and they are not taking a position on the political aspects of it.
“As a health care provider, what will save the most lives?” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, asked. It’s practicing good hygiene, staying at home and keeping social distance, he said.
“The more you can stay at home, maintain 6 feet of distance, the more you can do those things, the healthier you can be,” Dr. Stites said.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infectious control at the KU Health System, said staying 6 feet apart is important, as long as people are not in mass gatherings at churches, restaurants and other places where larger numbers of people may congregate. It’s also important not to touch your face and to wash hands, he said.
Positive COVID-19 cases at the KU Health System were 34 on Thursday, Dr. Hawkinson said. Of those, 13 patients were in the intensive care unit, and nine patients were on ventilators.
Dr. Stites said that although cases drifted up a little since Tuesday, he thinks they have flattened the curve a little and that the stay-at-home and social distancing techniques are working.
The KU Health System has been ramping up its efforts to prepare for COVID-19 in its facilities in central and western Kansas, according to the doctors.
According to the UG’s news release, the UG is looking carefully at data and models around the peak period for infection, and a 14-day incubation cool-off period following the peak to reduce the risk of a rebound in infections. Gov. Kelly’s order provides additional time to analyze the data from local communities and health systems, and determine what the science is telling them is the appropriate period to begin re-opening.
The governor may elect to extend the May 3 order, and the Unified Government will continue to work closely with Gov. Kelly, Dr. Norman, Core4 regional leaders, and the professional medical community to determine necessary steps to protect residents and save lives, according to the UG’s news release.
“Our actions must continue to be guided by the recommendations of the medical professionals, who have stated that we should maintain our stay-at-home order until 14 days after the peak, and we will extend as appropriate to keep our community and residents safe,” Mayor David Alvey said in a news release.
“It’s very important that residents continue to comply with the stay-at-home orders,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County-Kansas City, Kansas. “We see that staying home is working, and we intend to gradually ease restrictions as soon as it’s safe.”
“Gov. Kelly’s order has given medical professionals and local leaders time to further examine the data, what it is telling us about COVID-19 in Wyandotte County, and how we can use emerging information to make informed decisions about extending the stay-at-home period beyond May 3,” Dr. Greiner said. “The data will drive our decision making during this time.”
In anticipation of the gradual relaxation of control measures, local health officers, in cooperation with business, government and regional leaders, are developing a framework of “best practices” for reopening non-essential businesses and activities, local officials stated.
“COVID-19 does not respect county or state boundaries. Our region has worked closely together to take action to reduce the spread of this deadly virus. Through continued coordinated action with regional partners and the state of Kansas, we are seeing positive signs of flattening the curve. Now we must stay the course and follow the guidance of the health care professionals,” Mayor Alvey stated in the news release.
“We applaud Gov. Kelly’s extension of the statewide stay-at-home order until May 3rd. We will continue to look at the data and take careful, measured steps to protect public health and our community,” Mayor Alvey stated.
The UG stated that residents with COVID-19 symptoms should call their primary health care provider or self-report their symptoms by visiting wycokck.org/COVID-19 or by calling 3-1-1. Residents with questions about the governor’s extension of the stay-at-home order should contact 3-1-1.
To see the KU doctors’ news conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/.
The Kansas COVID-19 resource page is at https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus.
The UG’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information
The CDC COVID-19 page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html