This is the new normal look for people living in the metro in both Missouri and Kansas. Benito Pacheco (left) said, “It’s not comfortable wearing the mask for long periods of time but I will follow the rules of wearing my mask in public places.”



BY JOE ARCE


Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas in consultation with Kansas City Department of Public Health Director Rex Archer, M.D. announced starting this week, all employees or visitors to any place of public accommodation must wear masks in an area or while performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet of separation is not feasible. Also effective this week, percentage capacity limits as required by Mayor Lucas’s Eighth Amended Order will be eliminated, except for taverns and bars.

“Our country’s leading health and scientific experts have indicated in no uncertain terms that mask-weari­ng is the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Lucas. “Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all steps we can to ensure public health and safety. I know wearing masks can be uncomfortable, but this is a necessary step to ensure we can save lives and keep our economy open. We wear masks to protect our loved ones, those around us, and their loved ones.”

“We are keeping a close watch on our cases and hospitalizations, but know widespread mask-use is one essential way to slow COVID-19 and keep Kansas City businesses open,” said Dr. Archer. “It’s up to us. Let’s learn from Texas and Florida and what’s happening there now. Their mitigations and closures weren’t as quickly adopted or embraced. Now their case counts are rising at a disturbing rate and they’ve had to slow their reopening plans.”

Exceptions to the masks requirement are as follows:
• Minors, with strong guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas City Health Department that children over aged two wear masks.
• People who have disabilities that:
* Prevent them from comfortably wearing or taking off masks.
* Prevent them from communicating while wearing masks.
• People who have respiratory conditions or breathing trouble.
• People who have been told by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional not to wear masks.
• People who are seated in a restaurant or tavern and are actively engaged in consuming food or drink while adequately distanced from other patrons.

Mayor Lucas will review this order, and update as needed, prior to its Sunday, July 12 expiration. On the Kansas side last Saturday, Governor Laura Kelly’s designated testing van made its inaugural stop at Mercy and Truth Medical Missions to provide free COVID-19 testing. In addition residents were given a box of food and cleaning supplies to help them during the pandemic.

New Change for Youth were on hand to provide translation in five different languages, making the event accessible to non-English speakers and patients of different cultural backgrounds, such as resettled refugees. English, Spanish, Nepalese, Burmese and Swahili translations will be available.

Testing took place at the Mercy and Truth clinic parking lot at 721 North 31st Street in KCK. Twelve medics from the Kansas National Guard were present helping those that were in need of testing.

According to Kansas Department of Health and Enviroment (KDHE), Wyandotte County has recorded more COVID-19 cases than any other county in Kansas. Mercy and Truth clinic serves many patients whose populations face disproportionately high COVID numbers locally, such as refugees from Asian countries. Additionally, the population sharing the clinic’s zip code (66102) has recorded more cases than any other zip code in the county.

Mercy and Truth Medical Missions official Anne Rauth told Hispanic News, “You are standing in the zip code that has the most positive cases in Wyandotte County, “We have a lot of health disparities in Wyandotte County. Sometimes, those disparities are showing up in a lot of positive COVID cases.”

The most recent figures from the Center for Disease Control show Wyandotte County as accounting for 15.5% of the COVID-19 cases in Kansas with 2,108 total cases. The CDC website states that 79 of those patients have died.

Wyandotte County’s Public Health Department shows a noticeable rise in cases within the past month, saying the relaxing of public health restrictions as a likely contributor to the increase of COVID -19 cases.

Pat Pettey, Kansas State Senator believes, “We’ve become more and more lax all the time when we’re out in public. My mask protects you and your mask protects me.”

The Unified Government Public Health Department issued a new Local Health Officer (LHO) order requiring the public to wear masks when in public, in order to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 in Wyandotte County.

This is in response to the continuing increase of COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County, and only days after Unified Government Public Health Department (UGPHD) officials extended the Phase 3 of the Ad Astra reopening plan in Wyandotte County until at least July 6.

“The seven-day rolling average of positive cases continues to be on the upswing,” Dr. Allen Greiner, Chief Medical Officer of the (UGPHD), said. “This upswing coincides with the reopening of businesses and other venues as we try to get our community’s economy re-started after the shutdown earlier this year. One of the most important things the public can do to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wear masks in public. But for this effort to be effective, everyone must participate to protect the overall health of the entire community, not just their own health.”

The order went into effect on Tuesday, June 30. The order requires the following:

• Individuals are required to wear a mask covering the nose and mouth when in a public, indoor space (including a workplace, business, or place of worship).
• Masks should be carefully positioned over the mouth and nose when it is put on, in a manner to avoid touching or readjusting the mask until it is removed.
• Masks are not required inside a solitary, enclosed workspace such as within an individual’s solitary office.
• Individuals are required to wear a mask covering the nose and mouth when in a public, outdoor space (except for socially distanced outdoor exercise).
• This includes all outdoor public gatherings such as bus stops, farmers markets, places of worship and restaurant bar or patio seating areas.
• Masks are not required when eating or drinking, but individuals should remain socially distanced and are required to wear a face mask before and following eating.
• Washing your hands is encouraged before taking masks off and prior to putting them back on.
• Individuals with medical conditions must wear a full face shield covering the mouth, nose and eyes as an alternative to a face mask (face shields have a piece of hard, clear plastic that sits in front of the face these are often worn by healthcare workers in addition to other protective equipment).

There are exemptions for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, children younger than five years of age and people with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes, but not limited to, persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.