Kansas City Health Department | KCUR

Kansas City Health Department

Alex Smith / KCUR

After weeks of anxiety and terrifying headlines about COVID-19, newly updated projections seem to offer signs of hope.

A tool created by researchers at the University of Washington shows that the short-term impact of the disease may be less than that of the seasonal flu. However, experts warn about reading too much into the projections.

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.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Updated: Monday, March 23, 4:06 p.m.

In the metro area's ongoing effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, residents of Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties in Kansas, will be ordered to stay at home for 30 days beginning on Tuesday, March 24.

On Sunday afternoon, Johnson County Public Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster said the area had moved beyond the "containment phase," in which health professionals try to find out who has tested positive, locate their contacts and quarantine them.

Unsplash

Media experts say better news literacy was needed before the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. But the rapid spread of misinformation along with the disease itself, they say, has created a different kind of pandemic.

KCUR is tracking the latest coronavirus developments in the Kansas City region on our live blog. But we also wanted some answers for how you can avoid misinformation online during these unsettled times.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The 83rd annual NAIA men’s basketball tournament was canceled last week as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It was supposed to start Wednesday and run this week through next Tuesday. 

File photo by Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on Thursday morning declared a 21-day state of emergency in the city to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We’re not trying to be alarmist, we’re not trying to concern folks. What we’re trying to say is how can we make sure that we don’t see a significant impact before we can handle it here in Kansas City,” Lucas said.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Lucas wrote that "all events with more than 1,000 attendees within the city are canceled or delayed until the emergency has been lifted."

Alex Smith / KCUR

This story was updated March 6, 2020 at 12:15 p.m. 

Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City Health Department, says his office currently has just five kits to test for possible cases of the new coronavirus.

That’s despite an announcement Tuesday evening from Vice President Mike Pence, who said “any American can be tested” for the virus.

Pence admitted to reporters Thursday that demand for the kits exceeds supply. 

“That created a real challenge when the vice president told everybody they could get tested,” Archer told the city council Thursday.

Associated Press

The possibility of the new coronavirus spreading in the U.S. has alarmed many people, but Kansas City-area health officials say they are prepared — to a point.

Associated Press

Kansas health officials are waiting for test results after a patient in Lawrence reported symptoms of the coronavirus.

Local health officials are now more closely monitoring the possible spread of the virus.

"Diseases are just an airplane ride away,"  said Nancy Tausz, health services division director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) said the test kit from Lawrence has been sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Seg. 1: Healthy Homes Initiative | Seg. 2: Indie Film Critics

Sep 23, 2019

Segment 1: Some are living in temporary housing after Kansas City's rental inspection program revealed deplorable conditions at a Northland apartment complex.

Landlords are under pressure to ensure healthy living conditions or face sanctions from the Kansas City Health Department. Currently, eight inspectors are reviewing approximately 1,100 complaints over rental properties in the city. 

Segment 1: Snow removal has pushed some cities beyond their budget.

A rough winter has put both Leawood, Kansas, and Riverside, Missouri, over budget for snow removal, but lawmakers there say it shouldn't impact other programs. Today, we discussed how they're keeping ahead of the winter storms, and other municipal concerns, including a need for more police.

Bigstock

Reported syphilis cases in Kansas City jumped by 71 percent last year and included nine cases of congenital syphilis in which the mother passed the disease on to her newborn child.

The spike has set off alarm bells at the Kansas City Health Department, which could see cuts in or reallocations of health levy funds that support the city's safety net system in next year’s municipal budget.

Free Hot Soup Facebook page

Depending on whom you ask, health department officials on Sunday either stopped an unlicensed group from illegally handing out potentially bacteria-ridden food or destroyed the property of some “friends” having a “picnic.”

According to official documents, the Kansas City Health Department stopped volunteers of Free Hot Soup Kansas City from handing out food at several Kansas City parks because they lacked the required food handling permits. The food was seized and discarded or was destroyed with bleach.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

When it comes to violence in Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Rick Smith says that, more often than not, someone knows what's going on before it ever happens. 

To that end, the KCPD recently announced a substantial increase in rewards for homicide tips, from $2,000 to $5,000. Smith says the police need help from the community to prevent violent crime.

That's also a goal of the Kansas City Health Department's Aim4Peace program. But, Smith says he can't comment on the effectiveness of the violence prevention group's work. 

UMKC

Some of Kansas City’s largest health organizations announced on Friday the launch of a collaboration centered on Hospital Hill.

The “UMKC Health Sciences District” includes the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Truman Medical Centers, Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, among other partners.

C_osett / Creative Commons-Flickr

Kansas spends only about $12 per person on public health, making it one of the states putting the least money into preventing chronic and infectious diseases.

Rex Archer and Alex Garza
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

The greatest threat to public health in the face of bioterrorism, viral pandemics and natural disasters may actually be less of a headline-grabber: An insufficient budget.

Speaking on KCUR’s Up to Date on Friday, the former chief medical officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that while various programs are in place to protect against biological weapons and disease outbreaks, the system could still break down at the state and local level.

Kansas City Health Department

Kansas City has received national recognition for its wide-ranging and collaborative efforts to improve public health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced Wednesday at its headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey, that Kansas City was a recipient of a 2015 RWJF Culture of Health Prize.

“It’s an exemplary community for our country in terms of thinking about where we all need to go in promoting health,” said Don Schwarz, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Kansas City In Running For National Health Award

Feb 20, 2015

Kansas City, Mo., officials said Friday that the city is one of 15 finalists nationwide for the Culture of Health prize conferred annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a highly regarded health foundation based in Princeton, N.J.

The recognition, Mayor Sly James said in a news release, “acknowledges sustained and strategically focused efforts of the Health Department and several others in the entire Kansas City health provider community."

Cockroaches, mold and mouse feces at Kauffman stadium food stands: Those were some of the food safety violations that Aramark district food safety manager Jon Costa related to ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" television program in a segment that aired on Friday. 

Costa, whom the Philadelphia-based company has since placed on paid administrative leave,  also voiced his concerns about food safety at Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums to the Kansas City, Mo., health department on Nov. 3.

City's Health Care Tax Under Review

Apr 15, 2012
a.drian / flickr

Residents of Kansas City have long financed public health, ambulance and indigent health services through a property tax which last year, brought in nearly $50 million.