Wyandotte County now has a third death related to COVID-19 and a new total of 37 positive cases, according to Terrie Garrison, interim director of the Unified Government Health Department.
She made her report at the 6 p.m. Thursday meeting of the UG Board of Health at City Hall. The numbers of patients were updated from earlier in the day.
Garrison said the Health Department staff has worked hard to get ahead of the pandemic in Wyandotte County.
“It’s only been 14 days since the very first case of COVID-19 hit Wyandotte County, and there have been so many strides taken in such a very short amount of time,” she said.
Nineteen of the cases had to be hospitalized, according to Garrison.
The Health Department set up a self-report website for Wyandotte County residents, where individuals can report their symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.
Within 24 hours, medical students and residents get in contact with the individuals who have self-reported, she said. They assess the symptoms and decide if it is probably COVID-19, she said.
There are currently 37 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases here, and another 37 probable cases out of the 84 that were self-reported, she said.
The Health Department also is monitoring the spread with the self-reports because they are not getting as heavy testing as they would have liked at first, she added. The self-reports are allowing them to monitor the epidemiological spread in the county of the possible cases, she said. When the COVID-19 outbreak started here, there was a shortage of tests.
The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, reported this morning that they had 27 tests that were pending, 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the hospital, including four in intensive care unit and two on ventilators, Garrison said.
“We are continuing to do contact investigations with all of our known positives, as well as finding out who they’ve been in contact with, where those contacts have been, and trying to do the self-quarantining individuals who have a possibility of having the COVID,” she said.
Dr. Allen Greiner, who issued the stay-at-home orders on Tuesday for Wyandotte County, said he and other staff were pleased with the results.
They have received many questions about the orders, and the police department now has put up a full-time call-in line from businesses to determine what are essential activities and essential businesses, he said. Many have asked if they needed to carry some sort of letter, and he has told people they won’t be stopped if it is necessary.
It is something they want people to evaluate for themselves and their businesses and make smart decisions to protect their customers, clients, employees, families and themselves, as well as the community at large, he said.
He said the Health Department went out to visit funeral homes Thursday, after being asked questions, and the department is offering guidance.
In answer to a commissioner’s question, Dr. Greiner said that mortuary services have to continue, but the Health Department wants to have only a maximum of 10 persons in a funeral home for a service. He said one funeral director asked a large number of family members in a parking lot to disperse, to keep the number under 10.
Other facilities wanted to rotate with 10 persons coming in, then going out after a short while, with another 10 coming in.
“We made it clear it was not appropriate under the order,” he said. He added that would expose a lot of people to risk.
Dr. Greiner said they will be working in the next day or two to get a guidance document completed, so that all the funeral services will have the same guidelines.
“The primary thing we’re trying to avoid with all this is what we’re hearing is happening in New York, where the health care system just gets completely overwhelmed,” he said.
He said there are lot of serious cases coming out of a small number of total cases, and they know this community is vulnerable, so they have been working closely with both hospitals here. Pre-planning at both hospitals has been really strong, he said. There are fears about whether there will be adequate personal protective equipment, he said.
“But if we can keep the numbers down as we hope to with the stay-at-home order, there should be capacity to take care of the sick folks that need it,” Dr. Greiner said.
He said there has been good movement the last four to five days to increase testing capacity in Wyandotte County and two hospitals. The Health Department is trying to assist and get more drive-through testing started, he said.
KU Hospital started testing in its own labs two days ago, he said, which is helping to reduce their backlogs. They were previously sending tests out and waiting about four days to get results back. That became a problem, as they were using a lot of the disposable personal protective equipment, which has been in scarce supply, while waiting four days. Now the turnaround is about 10 to 12 hours with their own lab, he said.
He added there are plans to launch a downtown testing site. They will pursue some grant funding from local foundations.
In answer to a question, Dr. Greiner said KU Hospital reported that 80 to 90 percent of the tests the past two weeks had come back negative.
Dr. Greiner said that Dr. Erin Corriveau, from KU Medical Center, has been helping the past 10 days.
Juliann Van Liew, planning and operations manager at the Health Department, said the UG Health Department has developed a website with information for residents and businesses.
It has a section for Wyandotte County residents to self-report symptoms. She said many residents said they appreciate a call within 24 hours from a person that provides them with some guidance on what to do.
The UG also has a section for persons to report a need for food. Some patients with COVID-19 symptoms are isolating at home and cannot go out to get food, and other persons have lost jobs and cannot afford it. The requests will be funneled to Cross-Lines Community Outreach agency and volunteers will start taking food to those who need it on Friday, she said. Other agencies may get involved in the assistance effort, also.
Those who want to volunteer or donate funds may also leave their names on a section of the website. That information will be funneled to agencies in the community.
The UG launched a “dashboard” page on its COVID-19 site with updates, a map and a graph earlier Thursday, and it will be updated every evening, she said.
Dr. Erin Corriveau said they had heard from the 211 telephone line that calls are up about 300 percent.
Cross-Lines has reported they were usually helping 35 families before COVID-19 and now they are assisting about 160 families.
“That increase is real and we’re seeing that now,” she said. “There s a real concern for the supply of food.”
They are asking for donations and writing grants to get funds for food for people in the community, she said.
The Health Department also is working with multiple homeless agencies including the Greater Kansas City Committee to End Homelessness to secure a quarantine facility where homeless individuals who may be positive for coronavirus can stay there safely, away from others, and not pass the virus on, she said. The shelter would have about 50 beds with showers. A formal proposal has been written, she said.
Last week it was rare to get a call, but there is currently a big uptick in calls for shelter space, she added.
Janell Friesen, public information officer for the Health Department, reported the UG is trying to get the word out in different ways about COVID-19, including through the news outlets, the UG newsletter, social media, videos, and other methods. In the future they are considering sending out a postcard to reach residents. Fliers, posters and cards also are being produced.
Besides information, the UG’s COVID-19 website is posting employment with a link to the Workforce Partnership, as many persons have lost jobs or have fewer hours, she said.
Individuals may access more information about the stay-home orders through the frequently asked questions pages on the website, she said. The orders also are posted there.
At the 7 p.m. meeting, the UG Commission approved a resolution allowing the UG administrator or the chief medical officer to appoint one or more deputy medical officers in response to COVID-19.
To see a video with more information from this UG meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5jtuFuBscQ.
The UG COVID-19 page is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information
A map on the UG website showed more COVID-19 positive cases in the northwest and north central part of Wyanodtte County. According to information on the map, the Zip Codes in blue each had less than 5 cases, and so numbers for them were not reported. (UG COVID-19 website) A graph showed the number of cases rising in Wyandotte County. (UG COVID-19 website)
Wyandotte County cases rise to 34
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Kansas increased from 126 on March 25 to 168 on March 26, according to a report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Positive cases in Wyandotte County increased from 27 on Wednesday to 34 on Thursday, according to the 11 a.m. KDHE report. Nineteen Wyandotte County patients were hospitalized, according to the UG website. Most patients have recovered; there were two deaths associated with COVID-19 in Wyandotte County.
The UG’s COVID-19 website reported cases by Zip Code, with 8 cases in 66109, 6 cases in 66112 and 9 cases in 66104. The other Zip Code areas of Wyandotte County had less than 5 per area, and so numbers were not reported.
Johnson County’s total of positive COVID-19 cases went from 44 on Wednesday to 59 on Thursday, the report stated.
In Sedgwick County, the Wichita area, the total was 11 on Wednesday and 16 on Thursday, according to the report.
Leavenworth County now is at 12 total cases, and it was 11 on Wednesday. Douglas County, including the Lawrence area, went from 10 cases on Wednesday to 13 on Thursday.
According to state statistics, 90 of the positive cases were males and 78 were females. Patients were 7 to 90 years old, with the median age at 54. Around 4.5 percent of those persons who were tested, and all of them were ill, were positive for COVID-19, officials said on Wednesday.
“We are on the curve and how big that curve grows is entirely in the public’s hands,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said during a teleconference on Thursday.
“There is no question that shelter at home works,” Dr. Stites said.
He cited New Rochelle, N.Y., which had 108 cases around March 12, started shutting down the city, and was at 200 cases two days ago. The prediction is this disease is doubling every two or three days, and they might have been at 1,000 if they hadn’t sheltered at home.
“We can do this, we can bend the curve,” he said. “We don’t want to be New York City, we want to be KC.”
He said he noticed 10-15 people gathered at a park last night, and wanted to tell them to stay home. Don’t go out in groups unless absolutely necessary, he said.
KU Hospital had 16 patients who were positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, he said, with eight or nine on mechanical ventilation.
“The numbers are increasing. We are on the front edge of the surge,” Dr. Stites said.
“In order to be successful and to beat COVID, which we can do, the most important player in this game is you,” he said. “It’s the people who are listening or reading and making the decision, do I stay at home. If you choose yes, we will bend that curve, and if you choose no, we will struggle. So the choice is what we do and what we make every day.”
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the KU Health System, said he also saw a group of people last night, with the police trying to get a group dispersed and go back to their homes.
“People who continue to congregate and fail to stay home or maintain six feet apart are being irresponsible,” Dr. Hawkinson said.
In Wyandotte County, it is permissible under the “stay-home” ordinance to go to the parks and exercise, run or walk, keeping about six feet apart. Groups of 10 or more are prohibited.
“It was the police who were out there trying to get those people dispersed and back to their homes,” Dr. Hawkinson said. “It’s good to be out, but we don’t want the mass gatherings, because that’s how this virus is spread. We need to protect our first responders, including our police officers, because they’re the ones that do protect us. If we can stop the spread overall, we can stop the spread to our first responders, and that is the main goal of why we are trying to decrease the social gathering, to stay at home and stop the spread of this virus right now.”
Dr. Chad Cannon, Emergency Department chair at KU Health System, said he wanted to thank people for not coming in unnecessarily to the Emergency Department at KU Hospital. They continue to take care of the people having heart attacks, accidents and strokes, he said.
“We want to continue to have the capacity and the people to continue to take care of those folks, and we need to keep folks who are just concerned, but don’t have symptoms, out of the health care environment and home,” he said.
Those who have the COVID-19 serious symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should call their health care providers first, he said.
Dr. Cannon said people should call their physician if they have shortness of breath, also if they have chest pain. If they are weak and fatigued and feel they are going to pass out, if they have altered mental state or confusion and slurred speech, they should consider the Emergency Department, he said. If they have a runny nose or cough without more severe symptoms, it doesn’t mean they don’t have coronavirus, but they should isolate themselves, call their physician and get further advice, before going anywhere, he said.
“We’re ready for this if the surge does come, and hopeful that if you heed this good advice, that the surge will be manageable and that we can flatten the curve,” he said.
Besides staying at home, doctors have stressed good hygiene practices, washing hands, covering a cough and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
Dr. Stites also said he was hearing reports that health care workers at a large hospital in Wuhan, China, who had adequate personal protective equipment were staying healthy. COVID-19 spread to health care workers before they put in the protective equipment requirements, but afterward, they did not have a single case in the past six weeks, he said. The personal protective equipment requirements were the same used at KU Health System, he said.
Health care workers can still get COVID-19 in community spread, he said, but he doesn’t think they are getting the virus at the hospital.
At this time, KU Health System has adequate personal protective equipment, but they don’t know if it will be adequate in the next week or 10 days.
Some areas, such as New York, are short on protective equipment. Kansas City doesn’t want to go in that direction, Dr. Stites said.
To view the KU Health System news conference video, with more detailed information, visit https://www.medicalnewsnetwork.org/NewsNetwork/DocTalk/C/Coronavirus%20Media%20Conference%20Call%20March%2026%202020
The Kansas COVID-19 website is at
The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at
COVID-19 information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
A KDHE map showed the location of COVID-19 cases in Kansas. (KDHE map) A KDHE graph showed COVID-19 cases, with total cases in blue and new cases in green. (KDHE graph) The KDHE on March 26 listed the total number of COVID-19 cases by county. (KDHE chart)
Kansas City, Kansas, police have launched a hotline on Thursday to report businesses that are not compliant with the local COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
The stay-at-home order went into effect on Tuesday, March 24, in Wyandotte County.
Currently, according to Nancy Chartrand, public information officer for the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, all businesses in Wyandotte County are compliant with the order, as far as the police know. She added that could change after they receive more hotline calls.
Police have received some past calls in which the callers did not understand the order and didn’t realize the businesses were listed as “essential businesses” that could stay open, she added, in a telephone interview.
One of those instances was Nebraska Furniture Mart, which is allowed to stay open under the “essential business” supplying needed goods and services, but has chosen to close its doors on Friday evening for the betterment of the community, she said. The store is changing to online and phone sales, with outside pickup and delivery available.
Some “nonessential” businesses have closed their doors in Wyandotte County, while other businesses, such as restaurants, have changed to carryout only.
Also, the “stay-at-home” ordinance allows anyone, essential business or not, to work on business at their own homes.
The ordinance that was passed applies not just to businesses, but also to nonprofit organizations and individuals. It also prevents gatherings of 10 or more people.
While the ordinance is called “stay-at-home,” it allows people to get out to the grocery stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, medical appointments and other activities. It allows people to go out for walks and exercise, also.
If officers see a group of 10 or more people gathering in the community, the officers’ first priority will be to educate the persons, Chartrand said.
The situation with the stay-home order is something brand new, something the community has not experienced before, and the police understand it may be confusing, she said. Officers will tell people it isn’t a healthy situation to gather in large groups, it increases their risk of being exposed to the virus and also could expose someone else, she said.
Officers also have bilingual educational cards on COVID-19 that they will hand out to people, in case some people may not be aware of the situation, she said. It’s possible some residents may not have good information because of language barriers, she added.
The police department’s role is to enforce the ordinances, she said, and it has the ability to enforce them. They are in constant contact with the health department, she added.
Chartrand also wanted the public to know that the hotline number is for Wyandotte County only, not for businesses anywhere else.
According to the police department, residents may report any business or individuals that they believe are not complying with the “stay-at-home” order, by calling the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department’s special reporting line. The hotline number is 913-225-4788.
The phone line will be in operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. At other times, calls can be made to the police department’s non-emergency number at 913-596-3000, where residents may leave their name, telephone number, address of the business or individual who is believed to be noncompliant, a contact name for the business, and the nature of the perceived violation, according to police.
According to police, while they can enforce the order, they are asking for the business community to self-comply and eliminate the need for enforcement. If a complaint is received, officers will reach out and have a conversation to explain the “stay at home” order and answer questions in the hope of voluntary compliance, according to police. If an owner refuses to comply, a citation will be issued, according to a news release from police.
The police department listed examples of essential business as:
• Child care facilities
• Government operations
• Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities
• Grocery stores
• Construction only to the extent that they provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences or other essential businesses or are involved in health care operations, essential infrastructure or essential government functions
• Gas stations and auto repair facilities
• Garbage collection
• Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
• Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
• Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
• Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences
The complete list of essential businesses also includes the restaurants open for drive-through, delivery and carryout and not for dine-in; businesses that supply products needed for people to work at home; other businesses that supply essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate; taxis and other private transportation providers for essential activities and purposes authorized in the order; home-based care for seniors, adults and children; residential facilities and shelter for seniors, adults and children; professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist with legally mandated activities; businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes; and the news and media services. The complete list, with more detail, is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/UG_EMERGENCY_HEALTH_ORDER_STAY_AT_HOME.pdf.
Owners who do not see their business listed should read the stay at home health order at wycokck.org/COVID-19 and exercise judgment that will keep them, their employees, and the community safe, according to police. The police are on social media on Facebook @KCKPolice.