Health | KCUR

Health

KCUR's health team focuses on health issues and their impact in Missouri and Kansas. Working with journalists at other public media stations and news outlets, reporters Dan Margolies and Alex Smith strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

Courtesy of KMBC live stream

Although the number of cases of COVID-19 is growing in the Kansas City area, the rate of increase does not appear to be. Still, Kansas City Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer said we must be vigilant.

"Remember about half of folks can get this virus and not become ill enough to seek medical care," Archer said in a press conference Monday on the steps of City Hall. “We know we’ve had community spread without being able to track down somebody who is positive.”

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The coronavirus continues to spread in Kansas. The result of emergency orders is that many people are staying in their homes.

The shutdown of businesses across the state has triggered a record wave of people seeking unemployment benefits. The public health emergency has also forced politicians off the campaign trail.

On this week’s Statehouse Blend Kansas, Jim McLean talks with the manager of one U.S. Senate campaign to find out how that candidate is adapting.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Segment 1: Adapting Kansas counties, businesses, schools and employees to coronavirus

Gov. Laura Kelly has signed a series of executive orders aimed at safeguarding the health of Kansans during the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked her about criticism that the measures went too far, and whether she’s considering a statewide stay-at-home order.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Segment 1: Adapting Kansas counties, businesses, schools and employees to coronavirus

Gov. Laura Kelly has signed a series of executive orders aimed at safeguarding the health of Kansans during the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked her about criticism that the measures went too far, and whether she’s considering a statewide stay-at-home order.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — It’s hard for Meg Heriford to tell people they’re no longer allowed to walk into her restaurant. She runs the Ladybird Diner in downtown Lawrence, one of the first restaurants in town to close when coronavirus cases spiked in the U.S.

After one crowded lunch service, Heriford said, she could no longer justify the risk to her staff or customers. The restaurant closed March 14, though she and a small number of staff haven’t stopped working. The Ladybird is offering free bagged lunches for anyone who needs them. Heriford buys the food from her usual distributor, prepares it and leaves it on carts in front of the restaurant.

Courtesy of Joanna Wilson

As word spread about the ordeal surrounding the first coronavirus death in Johnson County, Kansas, first through Joanna Wilson's Facebook updates and then through media reports, the metro area got its first glimpse of the health care system struggling to keep up — and the pain of necessary quarantine.

"We don't have a clue where he picked this up," Joanna Wilson told KCUR. The couple hadn't traveled recently. "We've gone to church, he goes to Home Depot, we run in Walmart," she said.

Harvesters

Segment 1: Wife's Facebook post seen by hundreds meant one more hospital visit with her husband before he died

Harvesters

Segment 1: Wife's Facebook post seen by hundreds meant one more hospital visit with her husband before he died

courtesy of Kate E. Burke

Kansas City fashion designers, fabric artists, home sewers and crafters are diving into their own supplies to help meet the demand for masks for health care workers.

As is happening elsewhere around the country, health care and first-responder agencies in the metro area have begun asking for donations to overcome shortages as they deal with the spread of COVID-19. 

Erica Hunzinger / Kansas News Service

Update: Sedgwick County has finalized its stay-home order.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Six Kansas counties are ordering residents to stay home unless they’re buying groceries, getting health care or carrying out other essential tasks.

The orders apply in Wyandotte, Johnson, Leavenworth, Douglas, Miami and Doniphan counties. Gov. Laura Kelly said she’s not ready to issue her own statewide shelter-in-place order, but that could change.

Coronavirus Q&A: Is It Safe To Go To The Bank?

Mar 20, 2020
Curology / Unsplash

Answers to coronavirus questions, and resources available in the Kansas City area

As part of special coverage of the novel coronavirus, KCUR opened the phone lines to answer your questions. From hospital preparedness to mental health to where to find social services, our panel of experts fielded questions from around the metro, including one senior who wanted to know if the drive-thru at the bank could put her at risk.

Andy Marso / KCUR

Johnson County health officials scaled back testing for coronavirus this week after determining that the county has community transmission.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says the state needs to prioritize testing in other places due to limited test supplies. But some public experts say the move will limit efforts to combat COVID-19.

Brandi Molina

Fourteen metro teens on a spring break mission organized by Platte Woods United Methodist Church are currently stranded, with non-parent chaperones, in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Parents, church leaders, and state representatives are working to bring them home, all without a clear sense of when that will be possible.

The teens were supposed to fly into KCI on Friday, March 20. Just days before, Guatemala closed its borders to foreign travel to prevent the arrival of COVID-19.

The Coronavirus Q&A, Is It Safe To Go To The Bank?

Mar 18, 2020
Curology / Unsplash

Panelists answered questions regarding the coronavirus and the resources available in the Kansas City area to diagnose and treat.

As part of special coverage of the novel coronavirus, KCUR 89.3 opened the phone lines to answer your questions. From hospital preparedness to mental health to where to find social services, our panel of experts fielded questions from around the metro including one senior in need of cash who wanted to know if even the drive-through at the bank could put her at risk.  

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Kansas’ prisons and many of its county jails have suspended in-person visits indefinitely to keep down the risk of coronavirus spreading among inmates. The only exception is lawyers, who will be allowed to visit their clients.

Correctional facilities’ close quarters and lower health care quality means there’s a higher likelihood of COVID-19 virus spreading, though state and county facilities say they are doing what they can to keep things clean — asking for frequent hand washing, wiping down transport vehicles and phones and frequently scrubbing prison dining halls and gathering spaces.

File photo by Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Normally, most people wouldn’t give much thought to a minor cough or slight fever in March. But March 2020 hasn’t been like other years.

In the midst of a global pandemic, signs of illness can seem alarming, but Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist at the University of Kansas Health Systems, says a little knowledge and common sense can help, whatever the illness might turn out to be.

If a cough or fever have you worried, here’s what you need to know.

Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

With COVID-19 forcing schools across the metro to cancel classes and many peole to work from home, the “digital divide" between those with easy and reliable access to the internet at home and those without, is on the minds of many. 

According to a recent report from Broadband Now, the number of people without access to the internet in the US may be 42 million, nearly double the reported number from the Federal Communications Commission.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday ordered all of the state’s schools closed for the remainder of the academic year, taking her most dramatic action yet to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Kansas.

The governor’s decision came while all the state’s schools were shut down either for spring break or to slow the spread of the new coronavirus — some under orders from county health departments. In particular, the largest school systems in Kansas had either moved to online instruction or stretched out those spring breaks.

UPDATE Saturday, March 14:  One of the two "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19 announced by the governor Friday is in Clinton, Missouri. The Henry County Health Center has posted a statement to its website that includes the following:

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Remote rural towns are a good place to be early in a pandemic, according to epidemiologists, but that flips as the people in those towns begin to get sick.

Fredonia, Kansas, and other rural towns tend to be more spread out, lowering the chances that people are in close enough contact to catch the novel coronavirus.

“I always say it’s a hundred miles from anywhere,” quips Cassie Edson, with the Wilson County Health Department. “It’s a hundred miles from Wichita, a hundred miles to Joplin, a hundred miles to Tulsa.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Lila Symons was waiting in line at a grocery store in midtown Kansas City on Thursday, wearing a surgical face mask and pushing a cart full of paper goods and non-perishable foods.

When she returned to her Kansas City home later that afternoon, she planned to hunker down in a self-imposed quarantine for the next week or two. She said she has Crohn’s disease, a condition that causes inflammatory bowel problems. She takes medication that helps control her symptoms, but that suppresses her immune system.

Associated Press

Seven people in Kansas and Missouri have tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday, with one of those — a man in his 70s living in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County — dead from the disease. 

The relatively low instances of infection in the region would indicate that so far, the two states seem hardly touched by the growing global pandemic.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Update: 12:05 noon, March 12.

Following a wave of suspensions, postponements and cancellations in the sports world, the Big 12 Conference announced on Thursday that the men's and women's basketball tournaments in Kansas City have been cancelled as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement by the Big 12 was precipitated by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas's declaration of a state of emergency in Kansas City.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — The University of Kansas and Kansas State University have both delayed the start of classes until March 23, with online classes to follow and the possibility of continuing online-only for weeks after that due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Segment 1: Inequality in the story of lead contamination and lead removal.

Homes in Kansas City's oldest and one-time affluent neighborhoods are now lived in by people without the resources to remove the lead paint commonly used before its dangers were known. Plus, how the rise and fall of lead mining has affected a part of Missouri known as the Lead Belt. 

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas health officials say the state is ready to deal with the new coronavirus now that Kansans are starting to get sick.

Lawmakers still aren’t ready to move past a dispute on abortion and Medicaid expansion that is blocking progress on both issues.

Host Jim McLean talks with a legislator at the center of that dispute about why he cast a decisive vote against the anti-abortion amendment. 

Also featured on this week’s episode: an interview with the state’s chief health officer on preparations for the coronavirus.

Screengrab from City of Kansas City, Missouri

This story was updated March 6, 2020 at 5:08 p.m. to include a response from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

During a week of growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus, Kansas City health officials struggled to communicate clearly about the nature of the city's ability to test residents.

In a briefing to the Kansas City Council on Thursday morning, Rex Archer, head of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, said he wanted to make something clear: The city, so far, hadn’t received any of the kits it had requested to test for the new coronavirus.

Segment 1: The Department of Justice's Project Safe Neighborhoods funds new initiative against violent crime in Kansas City, Missouri.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

As the United States struggled with a crisis of addiction to opioids and other drugs over the past few years, scientists began to learn how addiction and loneliness can feed one another.

That was true for the Kansas City women in recovery whose stories support researchers’ findings about how loneliness and addiction work together to create a downward spiral.

“It isolated me from my family,” Monica says of her addiction. “They did not want to be bothered with me because of my behaviors. It caused me to lose good friends.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Workers at the Lenexa, Kansas-based global humanitarian relief organization Heart to Heart International are deploying to the Marshall Islands to help prepare residents there for potential coronavirus infections.

The team from Heart to Heart prepared to leave on Saturday after receiving a request from the World Health Organization to assist in the isolated islands in the Pacific, part of the larger island group of Micronesia.

Pages