by Murrel Bland
Last week has been a very different one; and the coming week promises to be the same. The threat of the coronavirus has affected everyone in the world. I am concerned about the health of everyone. I am also concerned about the effect the disease may have on our Business West members, many of whom are small business owners.
Instead of my normal report which would tell of the various meetings I would attend, I am summarizing various helpful resources. But first I would like to provide some words of encouragement. I believe it is something that is needed.
Leadership is most important during troubled times. I see examples of great leadership in many ways at various levels. I see it at City Hall. Mayor David Alvey is doing an excellent job; this has to be his most serious challenge. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, had high praise for Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, during a town hall telephone conference Friday, March 27. He said she was doing a good job managing circumstances in the state of Kansas.
John W. Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, was the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the 1960s when Lyndon Johnson was president. I am most impressed with the definition of leadership that is attributed to Gardner. He said, when it is all stripped down, leadership can be defined by three words — keeping hope alive.
For the past several years, I have convened a voluntary organization called the Last Tuesday Committee. The organization was founded several years ago by Cindy Cash who was president of the Chamber of Commerce. The executives of various neighborhood business organizations and the Wyandotte Economic Development Council (WYEDC) are invited. It remains today as an information-sharing organization. The group also helps sponsor the candidates’ forum held at election time at the community college.
The follow is a summary of what the chamber and WYEDC are doing to meet the challenge of the coronavirus threat.
Joab Ortiz, the chairman of the board of the chamber, said the chamber is working with local,
state and federal officials to provide support during these challenging times. He told of efforts in four areas:
• Promotion of your business or organization. The chamber will offer this promotion through social media, the chamber’s website and newsletters. Interested persons should contact Katelyn Kaminski at 913-371-3070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Buying local. The chamber offers buying blitzes at local businesses. Contact Katelyn Kaminski at 913-371-3070 or email email@example.com.
• Connection with federal resources. The office of U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids provides the chamber with information about grants and loans for small businesses. Contact Daniel Silva, the chamber president, at 913-371-3070 or email Daniel@kckchamber.com .
• COVID-19 Task Force. The chamber is looking for businesses interested in developing strategies to keep businesses running. To volunteer, contact Daniel Silva at 913-371-3070.
The chamber is offering these services to the entire business community, not just its members.
Greg Kindle, the president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, is surveying Wyandotte County businesses to determine the effect of the coronavirus. WYEDC has also developed a website entitled “COVID-19 Resources.” The website is www.wyedc.org/covid-19-resources.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.
Kansas COVID-19 cases jumped to 368 on Monday. (KDHE graphic)
Wyandotte County reports 63 cases
State health officials today reported that positive COVID-19 cases had increased to 368 in Kansas.
It was an increase of 49 cases from Sunday’s total of 319, according to Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas health secretary.
The state now has eight deaths, Dr. Norman reported during a news conference. One death was reported on the weekend in Wyandotte County, which now has a total of four deaths.
Also, the death of a COVID-19 patient was reported in Crawford County, he said.
Dr. Norman also reported an outbreak in a skilled nursing facility operated by Life Care Center of Burlington in Coffey County, Kansas, where there were 7 to 8 positive COVID-19 cases. He said they are doing work to track how it reached the nursing home. One of the Wyandotte County COVID-19 deaths was from a patient who had been at the Life Care Center of Kansas City, Kansas. No other cases were reported at that center after testing, Dr. Norman said.
Wyandotte County reported an increase of 11 cases since Sunday. Wyandotte County reported 63 cases at 11 a.m. March 30, according to the Unified Government’s COVID-19 website.
There were 25 persons in Wyandotte County who were hospitalized with COVID-19. There were 52 COVID-19 cases listed on Sunday morning in Wyandotte County, with 23 persons hospitalized, according to the UG website.
Johnson County had 116 positive cases, according to KDHE statistics, as compared to 101 on Sunday.
Dr. Norman said new equipment is going online at the state labs that will allow the state to greatly increase testing and to do population studies. The state will be able to do more than 700 tests a day, he said.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has received numerous calls this week about groups that are gathering, including a church that held an event, he said. The governor’s stay-at-home order went into effect earlier today, and the state’s largest cities already were under local stay-at-home orders before that. Wyandotte County’s stay-at-home order started last Tuesday.
“It’s important for people to understand a stay-at-home order is in place and that goes for churches as well,” Dr. Norman said.
Dr. Norman said the number of COVID-19 cases typically doubles every three days, because each infected person typically infects another 4.64 persons. If they can change a 30 percent reduction in cases to 45 percent, the doubling time goes to 6.6 days, and then to 55 percent, the doubling time becomes 9.3 days, he said. It would help greatly and dramatically flatten the curve, he said.
That would reduce the number of total cases, which would then reduce the number of intensive care unit beds and ventilators needed, and would mean there would be enough bed space for those who are critically ill. Some other countries with COVID-19 ran out of ICU bed space and ventilators, and had to make decisions about which patients could receive ventilators and which ones couldn’t.
Using KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, as an example, if restricted movement went from 45 percent to 55 percent, it would change the need from 2,000 beds to 500 beds, Dr. Norman said.
On a positive note, Dr. Norman said Kansas received a shipment of 15 pallets today from the national stockpile of personal protective equipment, including such items as masks and gowns. There also are efforts to encourage Kansas companies to manufacture items.
Doctors encourage people to keep practicing social distancing
Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System on Monday, during a news teleconference, encouraged people to keep practicing social distancing.
KU Hospital went from 18 positive COVID-19 patients to 22 and then to 23, according to the doctors.
The hospital has about 250 ventilators available, but it doesn’t know at this time how many it will need in the future, according to Tammy Peterman, executive vice president, chief operating officer, chief nursing officer of the KU Health System and president of the Kansas City division.
Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the KU Health System, said the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem real to some people, but it becomes real when they know a victim.
Dr. Stites talked about his son, who is in his 20s and lives in a different household and was displaying mild cough and sore throat symptoms, although he was not diagnosed with COVID-19. He said it was hard, but he was careful to leave groceries at the doorstep, and not to be within 6 feet of his son. He added his son is getting better now.
He said there are some young people who have contracted COVID-19 in the Kansas City area.
“There’s a 25-year-old daughter of somebody here on a ventilator,” he said. “I don’t know how to make this more real for people.”
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the KU Health System, said the disease affects all ages, including children. He urged residents to keep up the social distancing, wash their hands, don’t touch their faces and clean surfaces.
He said that while it was good to be outside over the weekend, he saw a lot of people who were not keeping 6 feet away from each other, including six or seven young people who were not from the same household.
“If it’s not a person in your household, you need to be at least 6 feet distant from them,” he said. He saw groups of friends meeting at the park, having pizza – “That’s the exact opposite of what we want,” he added. The doctors don’t want contact between households, and that is a way that coronavirus can spread, he said.
Dr. Hawkinson said they are going out of flu season and into allergy season, and the symptoms might be coughing and sneezing.
Dr. Stites said if it can be treated with products such as Benadryl, it’s probably not COVID-19, but allergies.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever, a dry cough and difficulty breathing. People who have symptoms should call their primary physician and wait for a callback with instructions.
Peterman said the KU Health System appreciated the enormous outpouring of support, donations and words of encouragement to the staff during the past few weeks.
“We have a really generous and giving community,” she said. “I am grateful every day for the community we live in.”
More information from the KU Health Systems teleconference may be viewed online at
More information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment teleconference is at https://vimeo.com/showcase/6935373.
The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at
The Kansas COVID-19 website is at
COVID-19 information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
A map from the Unified Government COVID-19 website showed that there were more cases reported on the north side of Kansas City, Kansas, than in other areas of the county. (UG COVID-19 website) A graph from the UG COVID-19 website showed Wyandotte County cases. (UG COVID-19 website) Kansas COVID-19 cases by county on March 30. (KDHE chart)