The Unified Government Commission is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 7, in a remote Zoom meeting to discuss fire station locations and the Restart WyCo plan, along with a budget workshop.
The closing of the Fairfax fire station is being opposed by the Fairfax Industrial Association, which has sent out emails in opposition.
The meeting will be conducted on the internet.
According to the agenda, the public may observe or listen to the meeting on YouTube or UGTV or through Zoom on the internet. They also can listen by telephone.
The UG held part of the fire station discussion last Thursday.
Officials proposed covering the Fairfax district from the Quindaro fire station. The industrial district could have the same amount of coverage from Quindaro as it has now, according to officials. The details of that plan, and of plans involving other fire stations in the community, are online in the meeting, posted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bucOg3IQWU. (About 1:12 on the video)
UG Commissioner Gayle Townsend said at last week’s meeting on the fire station, “I think, on so many levels, it needs a fuller and deeper opportunity for discussion.”
Melissa Clark, executive director of the Fairfax Industrial Association, said during last week’s meeting, “We’re concerned about this and we’re opposing this.”
She questioned the response time from Station 5 that was cited in the Fire Department’s report. She said response time now wasn’t within four minutes. Also, the Fairfax dis district contributes $18 to $20 million a year in property taxes and is the economic backbone of Wyandotte County, she said. She didn’t understand why they wanted to take away the district’s fire station and protection.
Also, Clark said an agreement was made in 1985 with the automotive plant to have a fire station there, and the land for it was given to the city by the GM plant.
Clark said the need for a fire station there has increased, and there are around 10,000 employees there. The district receives nearly 100 percent of the volatile unleaded jet fuel for the bistate region, she said. She also said the Northeast Master Plan of 2018 includes keeping the Fairfax fire station. She added there are more than 20 railroad crossings that would delay other fire crews from getting into the Fairfax areas.
Brad Casemier, maintenance and engineering leader at the Owens-Corning plant at Fairfax, at last week’s meeting talked about the importance of the potential of fires, explosions and accidents. It is also important for the first fire group to get to the scene immediately.
Last year on the day before Thanksgiving, a semi came through their fence from a heavily traveled road north of the plant and struck the oxygen pipeline and backup oxygen system, he said. They were blessed there was not an explosion and don’t know to this day why there wasn’t, but the incident speaks to the potential between traffic and the type of equipment in the Fairfax area for fires and extreme events, he said.
J.R. Latenser said at the meeting that he agreed with the others who commented, and asked about trains blocking access at several points in Fairfax. Quindaro, 10th and 7th streets can be blocked by trains at any time, and sometimes are blocked for long times.
A representative from the International Association of Firefighters, Local 64, said they needed more time to respond to new information that was presented last Thursday.
According to the UG clerk’s webpage, anyone who wants to make a public comment on any item on the agenda may submit their comments by email by 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting to email@example.com.
The agenda is online at https://wycokck.civicclerk.com/web/UserControls/DocPreview.aspx?aoid=1746.
To view the meeting on Zoom, visit
To listen on telephone:
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Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
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Webinar ID: 976 7388 1264
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/abBrY9EHyP
Free COVID-19 testing is being offered from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, at the South Branch Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library, 3104 Strong Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.
The tests are free to Wyandotte County residents who have symptoms of COVID-19. Residents are asked to register in advance at 913-371-9298. The tests are from Vibrant Health, El Centro, the library and the Unified Government Health Department.
On Thursday, May 7, free COVID-19 tests will be given from 3 to 6 pm. at the Frist Baptist Church and Berean Fellowship, 500 Nebraska Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. Those who live in Wyandotte County and have symptoms of COVID-19 may be tested. Residents are asked to register in advance by calling 913-371-9298.
On Friday, May 8, free COVID-19 tests will be offered from 3 to 6 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1086 N. 94th St., Kansas City, Kansas. Those who live in Wyandotte County and have symptoms of COVID-19 may be tested. Residents are asked to register in advance by calling 913-371-9298.
Testing also will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday, May 11, at the Oak Ridge Baptist Church, 9301 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas. Those who live in Wyandotte County and have symptoms of COVID-19 may be tested. Residents are asked to register in advance by calling 913-371-9298.
Testing also is continuing at the UG Health Department parking lot each afternoon Monday through Friday at 619 Ann Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. These tests, from 1 to 5 p.m., are drive-up or walk-up, with no appointment needed. Tests are for Wyandotte County residents who have had symptoms in the last 48 hours. Those who have questions about the tests may call 311.
A Unified Government Health Department chart showed a comparison of COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County among races. (UG Health Department chart) A UG Health Department chart showed the number of COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County according to ethnicity. (UG Health Department chart) There were a total of 906 cases reported by 1:40 p.m. Wednesday in Wyandotte County, according to the UG COVID-19 website. There were no increases in deaths or hospitalizations at that time. (UG COVID-19 website)
Doctors at a news conference Wednesday morning from the University of Kansas Health System discussed disparities in race, ethnic origin and income among COVID-19 patients in Wyandotte County.
Wyandotte County reported 906 positive COVID-19 cases at 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, with 64 deaths and 40 hospitalizations, according to the UG COVID-19 website. About 185 recoveries were reported. It was an increase of 13 cases since Tuesday afternoon, and the same number of deaths and hospitalizations since Tuesday afternoon.
Wyandotte County, on many days in the past month, has had the most COVID-19 cases of any county in the state of Kansas. Around April 2, the Wyandotte County numbers passed Johnson County’s, which has a larger population. While Johnson has been flattening, the Wyandotte County numbers have been increasing, according to the doctors. Johnson County had 519 cases on Wednesday, according to the state health department.
The pandemic has unmasked a lot of health inequities in society, not just in health care, said Dr. David Lisbon, who works in emergency medicine at the University of Kansas Health System.
Throughout the nation, African-Americans and Hispanics have made up a larger number of the COVID-19 patients than their numbers in the population, he said.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the KU Health System, said there are general infectious disease issues with how it’s spread and where it’s spread.
“This seems to be hyper-contagious, and there have been different variables and different statistics on how easily it transfers in households,” Dr. Hawkinson said.
Playing a part in all of it are enclosed spaces, whether there are multiple generations living together at home, or in work spaces where workers are close together, he said.
Dr. Chris Brown, hospitalist at KU Health System, said the KU Health System’s inpatient totals see a lot of the same trends of greater numbers of minorities, as well as the co-morbidities associated with certain outcomes.
Dr. Brown said they have had some relatively good numbers of getting patients out of the hospital and into rehabilitation. Hospital stay and length can play a part, he said.
Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer of Wyandotte County, said they have been paying attention to the data where Wyandotte County passed Johnson County some weeks ago. Some of the Wyandotte County clusters or outbreaks centered on community entities with a lot of minority involvement, including workplaces and some church clusters, he said.
Wyandotte County has launched a health equity task force to involve community leaders and is trying to ramp up testing in those groups, doing as much outreach and testing as it can across the community, he said.
Dr. Lisbon said on the issue of race, individuals may be in situations where they have other burdens where it is more difficult to get health care and maintain it, and trust that medicine is doing something for them.
He said a study in Great Britain of income and insurance status found some of the same information on individuals as has been found in the United States.
Dr. Hawkinson said there had been a lot of misinformation on social media, such as certain blood types are protected or that if one is African-American, he could not get the virus. They are fighting this misinformation, and everyone is susceptible to the disease, he said.
Dr. Brown said the inpatient population, regardless of race, boils down to a lot of economic factors and living arrangements, and the other medical conditions people have, if they have lung disease, heart disease or other illnesses. People with existing medical conditions will have worse outcomes, he said.
Dr. Greiner said Wyandotte County is a lot like other areas in the nation where one can see inequities.
He said while they are more sensitive to these issues than previously, they haven’t yet found great interventions.
Dr. Greiner said they would have to work hard, both with the rest of this pandemic, as well into the future, to try to find out how to maximize population health and address things that have a deep historical past and make achieving equity a tough challenge.
Working together and getting out there in the communities is important to find the right solution and to do it in partnership with the communities affected, he said.
Dr. Greiner said personal responsibility is a big part of what the Health Department is trying to do, educating people on socially responsible behavior.
“We need to change the social norms in society going forward,” he said, so they don’t see a big uptick in outcomes in the future.
As parts of the community prepare to reopen, the KU doctors recommended staying six feet apart, wearing a mask when in public, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, not touching your face and staying home when sick.
Dr. Brown said these basic measures are important, and COVID-19 patients would want to give a message to others of social distancing and selflessness.
“It’s not about the risk that you are willing to take within your own home and in your own personal life. It really can affect people who are at risk,” Dr. Brown said, “but also those individuals who are presumed healthy, and now are coming into our health care system and finding out they also have medical conditions not previously diagnosed with, which can potentially make their hospitalization longer.” It puts them at risk potentially for complications and for transfer to the ICU.
“They would probably say to the public, we need to be selfless, we need to be thoughtful about what we do, and how our actions can therefore affect us and others,” Dr. Brown said.
To see the KU doctors’ news conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/754469121756208/.
The UG’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.
The Wyandotte County reopening plan, a 41-page document, was posted Thursday night at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/RestartWYCOGuidanceDocument043020.pdf.
The Kansas COVID-19 website is at https://covid.ks.gov/.
The Kansas COVID-19 resource page is at https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus
Information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/.