UG announces many operational changes to slow spread of COVID-19

Officials say changes will reduce face-to-face interactions, help minimize spread of COVID-19

Various agencies in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, announced several operational changes today, in response to the COVID-19.

“The purpose of these changes is to limit face-to-face interactions and expose our residents to large gatherings that put people in close proximity,” Doug Bach, county administrator, said in a news release. “All of these measures are in keeping with our ongoing recommendations for residents to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing, in an effort to minimize their risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

“We encourage residents to register with the myWYCO app online and utilize services on www.wycokck.org,” Bach said. “Residents can conduct much of their business with us virtually, including paying property taxes, making reports to 311 and renewing vehicle registrations. Practicing this type of social distancing and using these virtual tools will help residents minimize their exposure to large groups and thus their potential exposure to COVID-19.”

Among the steps being taken are postponement of some court hearings; no visitors to the county jail; canceling the next delinquent tax sale; postponing the Planning Commission meeting; municipal court hearings from March 16 to 20 are postponed; eliminating face-to-face appeals for the appraiser’s office and conducting them by phone or through documents; activities are canceled at the community centers; and district court jury trials through April 19 are continued.

Kansas City, Kansas Municipal Court
The Kansas City, Kansas, Municipal Court is taking precautions to maintain a safe and healthy court environment for all court participants, visitors and staff in response to COVID-19. The court staff will keep residents informed via their website, through UGTV and through communication at our main customer service line at 913-573-5200.

Other actions being taken to help protect the health and safety of court participants and visitors include:
• Janitorial staff are disinfecting doors, handles, elevator buttons and surfaces in public areas of city hall more often.
• All court hearings scheduled for March 16 – 20, 2020 will be postponed. If you have a court appearance or scheduled, we will be contacting you by mail with a new court setting.
• Payment date adjustments will be updated and mailed to the defendant directly.
• At this time, we will maintain regular business at the clerk’s window, but encourage all to utilize web, email, and app-based services.
• Probation visits will be rescheduled or moved to telephone reporting on an individual basis.
• Defendants on DUI or Domestic diversion will be contacted directly by the Prosecutor’s Office with instruction.
• Many services for the court are available our website, https://www.wycokck.org/Municipal.aspx, including information about case(s). You may also request entry, continuance and file motions through our email address kckmunicourt@wycokck.org.
• Residents can also make payments and register for additional alerts on the myWYCO app.

Transportation
• KCATA and Unified Government Transit are working on keeping buses clean and disinfected.
• They are purchasing sanitation equipment that can also be used for Public Works facilities.

Planning Commission
• Planning Commission meetings for the foreseeable future will be postponed. This includes the upcoming Planning Commission meeting scheduled for April 13, 2020.

The Wyandotte County Historical Museum
• The Historical Society quarterly meeting scheduled for March 22, 2020, is canceled.

Delinquent Real Estate
• The Delinquent Real Estate tax sale, currently scheduled for April, will be canceled.

Appraisers Office
The Wyandotte County Appraisers Office will be conducting all appeals currently scheduled via phone or by encouraging submittal of an evidentiary appeal online. The Appraisers Office will be calling property owners and tax representatives who are currently scheduled for an in-person appeal and advise that those will be changed to a phone hearing.
• Appeals: Phone and evidentiary only will be held; in-person online submittal has been disabled, and creation of an appeals document upload has been completed to assist public in easy upload of their documentation.
• Field Work: All field inspections have been suspended, which include sales inspections, appeal interior inspections, building permits, and annual re-inspection processes.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Effective Monday, March 16, the following treasury and motor vehicle changes will occur:
• All motor vehicle business will occur exclusively at the Annex Office at 8200 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas 66112. There will be no motor vehicle business at the Courthouse Office.
• All real estate and property taxes will be collected at the Courthouse Office. There will be no real estate or property taxes collected at the Annex Office.
• All Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) business will be conducted at the Courthouse Office. There will be no CMV business conducted at the Annex Office.

Parks and public events
• The Roller Warriors event, scheduled for this weekend at Memorial Hall, will be canceled.
• Activities, programming, and events at community centers have been canceled.
• Reservations at George Meyn Community Center, James P. Davis Hall and Pierson Park will be postponed until further notice.

Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office
• The Wyandotte County Sheriff has suspended visitation for inmates to the prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the jail. Visitation will resume when it is deemed safe to do so.

Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department
• The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department will continue interacting with the public, according to a news release. Some changes that are planned include calling in a report on a non-injury accident where the vehicles are able to be driven, to 913-596-3000. Personnel at stations and headquarters will conduct business behind glass partitions. The communications center will be closed to public visitors. Officers on calls will gather information outside residences when possible and will maintain a distance of at least six feet. Only trained personnel wearing personal protective equipment will have contact with individuals who have tested positive or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. For more information about operational changes being instituted by the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, visit www.kckpd.org.

District Court of Wyandotte County
• The Wyandotte County Courthouse remains open for business.
• All jury trials, criminal and civil, scheduled through April 19, 2020, are continued. Any juror who received a summons for jury trials through April 19, 2020, do not need to report for jury duty on the assigned date. Jury trials scheduled to commence on or after April 20, 2020, will be evaluated on a weekly basis.
• Jurors who were summoned during this time will be put back into the jury pool and may be summoned later in the year.
• All other scheduled hearings, dockets and court appearances will proceed as scheduled. Any requests for continuances or appearances by phone shall be directed to the assigned division.
• Persons who have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19, should not report to the courthouse.
• Instead, contact the office of the Wyandotte County Court Administration at 913-573-2940 for assistance.
• Further administrative orders may be issued as appropriate as this crisis continues to evolve and develop.

For more information about any further changes in operational procedures or policies, residents of Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County can call the Wyandotte County helpline at 3-1-1 or visit mywyco@wycokck.org.

As more information becomes available it will be posted to the UG website at https://www.wycokck.org/COVID-19.

Information from the UG

Mayor, president declare states of emergency; some individuals self-quarantine

State health officials responded to some questions on Friday about the Life Care Center, 3231 N. 61st St., where a COVID-19 patient was before going to Providence Medical Center. The patient died on Wednesday.

Mayor David Alvey and President Donald Trump declared states of emergency Friday to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and some individuals in Wyandotte County were in self-quarantine.

A caregiver who came into contact with a COVID-19 patient is currently under self-quarantine, according to officials at a news conference at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Also, some Kansas City, Kansas, firefighters reportedly were under self-quarantines.

The patient, in his 70s, died Wednesday at Providence Medical Center, according to health officials.

On Friday, Providence Medical Center announced restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. It only will allow entrance at three points, the Main Entrance, Emergency Entrance and South Entrance, visitors will be screened, and visitors under age 14 will not be allowed, except in special circumstances, according to a news release.

According to Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, at a news conference Friday, Kansas had six COVID-19 patients as of midday Friday, including one announced Friday in Butler County.

Dr. Norman was asked about the nursing home where the resident previously lived, Life Care Center at 3231 N. 61st St., Kansas City, Kansas. He said health officials were aware it was owned by the same company that also had cases in the state of Washington, and they would try to determine if there were any shared staff within the chain, or if there was any significance to that link.

The nursing home’s news release stated that the patient had been at the nursing home since Feb. 25, when the patient was released from the hospital. The patient had been in the hospital for other health issues. No one was aware of the COVID-19 virus until a post-mortem test came back positive.

In Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey declared a state of emergency on Friday, according to a news release from the Unified Government.

At the state level, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that there have been 93 negative tests for COVID-19 in the state through 10 a.m. Friday. Of the six positive cases, one was in Wyandotte County, four were in Johnson County and one was in Butler County.

According to KDHE, other labs in the state are beginning to test for COVID-19, and are asked to report results to KDHE.

At the federal level on Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency to stop the spread of coronavirus, and the FDA approved some COVID-19 tests. He said more tests, including drive-through tests, would become available in the coming days or weeks.

Locally, various organizations around the Kansas City area continued to cancel events on Friday. Several Wyandotte County organizations have announced cancellations. Many sports events were canceled, also. The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce announced it would cancel all events and meetings.

Local big-box stores in Wyandotte County appeared busy on Friday.

The Piper Public Schools have announced they will be closed March 16-20 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus risk, according to a news release. Piper students were asked to take home any personal belongings that would slow the work of custodians as they are disinfecting facilities, according to a statement. It is a precautionary measure, according to officials. Piper’s regular spring break was scheduled March 23-27.

Statement from nursing home

Life Care Center of Kansas City, Kansas, released a statement from Rebecca Brennan, executive director, on COVID-19 on Friday:

“A patient from Life Care Center of Kansas City passed away on Wednesday, March 11. Late yesterday afternoon, March 12, the Unified Government Public Health Department of Wyandotte County contacted our Kansas City facility and notified us that this patient had tested positive, post-mortem, for COVID-19.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and loved ones of this patient.
“We have begun notifying our families, residents and associates as of this report.
“HIPAA privacy guidelines prevent the sharing of personal patient information. With that, here is an outline of all the information we are able to share regarding this situation:
• “The patient began their stay when they were discharged to Life Care Center of Kansas City from Providence Health Center on Feb. 25.
• “On Saturday, March 7, the patient was transferred to a local hospital to receive care for a medical issue entirely unrelated to symptoms or signs of COVID-19. The patient was treated in the emergency room and released by the hospital back to our facility on the same day.
• “On Tuesday, March 10, the patient became unresponsive in our facility. We called 911, and the patient was transferred to the hospital.
• “The patient did not exhibit signs or symptoms of respiratory illness when discharged to the hospital.
• “On Wednesday, March 11, the patient passed away in the hospital.
• “At 4:30 p.m. on March 12, we received notification from the health department that a post-mortem test was conducted showing the patient as positive for COVID-19.
• “We immediately isolated any patient who had known contact with the patient.
• “As of today, Friday, March 13, we have no other patients or staff who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
“Prior to this incident and continuing now, we have been following all CMS, CDC and state and local health department guidelines concerning COVID-19. Our associates are being diligent on practicing proper hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment, which is recurring education they normally receive, beginning with their orientation at our facility. Every associate is also screened when they arrive for work, including checking temperature, to ensure no additional sickness is brought into our building. If they have a fever over 100.4, we send them home and ask they contact their personal physician.
“These guidelines also place restrictions on the entrance of visitors, family members and vendors. We posted signage on our doors with information on COVID-19. We placed an infection prevention station at the entrance with personal protection supplies.
“We continue to work in partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Unified Government Public Health Department of Wyandotte County.”

Hospital statements

Providence Medical Center released a statement on Friday:
“Providence Medical Center is committed to protecting the safety of our hospital patients, healthcare providers and community and remains in close contact with the Wyandotte County Health Department, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure proper precautions are followed.

“To support reducing community impact of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), entrances to Providence Medical Center are being restricted to the following locations: Main Entrance; South Entrance and Emergency.

“Until further notice, all individuals accessing the hospital through a restricted entrance will be screened for COVID-19 prior to entry. New visiting hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; no individual under the age of 14 will be allowed entry (special considerations may be allowed for patients in critical care).

“Signs and Maps will be posted at closed entry points of the Hospital redirecting individuals to the restricted entry points.

“At this time, our top priority remains protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors, staff, physicians, volunteers and community.

“If you would like additional information related to COVID-19, you may contact KDHE by calling 1-866-534-3463; visiting www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus; or emailing COVID-19@ks.gov.”

Providence Medical Center’s statement on Thursday:
“Providence Medical Center is committed to protecting the safety of our hospital patients, healthcare providers and community and remains in close contact with the Wyandotte County Health Department, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure proper precautions are followed.
“A patient presented to the Hospital’s Emergency Department by ambulance from a nursing home. Our staff and physicians immediately provided lifesaving care to stabilize the patient’s condition, following all infection control protocols set forth by KDHE and CDC.
“Unfortunately, the patient died less than 24 hours after admission due to complications. It was decided to take samples post-mortem for COVID-19 due to the patients observed dissent, low blood pressure and high fever.
“Our hospital has identified the staff who came into contact with the patient while providing care and is following all guidelines regarding healthcare work exposure.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the patient’s family. At this time, our top priority remains protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors, staff, physicians, volunteers, and community.”

The UG’s news release about the state of emergency


Mayor David Alvey of the Unified Government serving Wyandotte County declared a state of emergency for Kansas City, Kansas-Wyandotte County, Kansas today.

“This is the next logical step in our strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus,” said Alvey.

The mayor made the following statement regarding his declaration:

“Today I’ve been in consultation with Mayor Jeff Harrington of Bonner Springs and Mayor John McTaggart from Edwardsville, Kansas to discuss the status of the COVID-19 virus in the Unified Government region, and our next steps in controlling the spread of the virus in our communities.

“Based upon our discussions, and with the recommendation of Matt May, the Director of Emergency Management for the Unified Government, I have decided to declare a State of Emergency in our region.

“Declaring a State of Emergency will allow the leaders of the Unified Government to get the materials and resources we need to effectively control the spread of COVID-19 more easily. The Department of Health of the Unified Government already has the authority to combat the virus, but today’s Declaration allows us to obtain needed resources more readily.

“We are still strongly recommending that our residents avoid large gatherings that bring people into close proximity. In addition, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for our residents to continue to follow the recommended safety procedures we’ve been communicating over the past several days.”

These measures to which the Mayor refers in his statement were first shared with the public during a Facebook Live session on Thursday, March 11. These measures include:

• Avoid large gatherings
• Practice social distancing
• If you’re sick, stay home
• Practice good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, and avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands at all times
• If you feel ill, call your healthcare provider and stay home until you receive additional instructions from his or her office
• Cover coughs with a tissue or your sleeve

“One example of social distancing is using online services to take care of tasks such as paying your bills or online banking,” said Terrie Garrison, the Interim Director of the Public Health Department serving Wyandotte County. “For example, the Unified Government offers residents a number of ways to conduct normal daily tasks with us, without having to come into City Hall. We encourage our residents to take advantage of these online services and remain at home.”

Many common business services like renewing vehicle tags, paying municipal traffic and parking tickets, or appealing a property appraisal can be completed online at mywyco.wycokck.org or via the myWYCO app available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

In addition to these measures, the Unified Government is providing residents with a wealth of information on how to best protect themselves from COVID-19. Resources provided by the Unified Government include:

• WYCOKCK.ORG/CORONAVIRUS: This website contains information from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC) and KDHE.
• The Wyandotte County Help Line is available to residents at 3-1-1 for those with questions about COVID-19.
• In addition, the KDHE has also set up a hotline at 866-534-3463.

Another key step that residents should take is to formulate a Family Action Plan. “KDHE encourages all Kansans to work with their families to create a family action plan,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer with the United Government. “This includes planning for medical and dietary needs, identifying a room in your home to separate those who are sick from the rest of the household, and other key decision-making.” To learn more about creating a Family Action Plan, visit KDHEKS.gov/coronavirus or click here.

“The residents of Wyandotte County are a resilient, resourceful community of people,” said Alvey. “We have faced public health challenges before, and we have persevered and overcome them, just as we will now. We want our residents to stay up to date on the latest developments on this issue through our website and social media.”

To view the KDHE Friday news conference, visit
https://www.facebook.com/KDHEnews/videos/193996971906216/.

For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.
The UG has a COVID-19 coronavirus website at https://www.wycokck.org/COVID-19.
For more information from the CDC, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

Libraries canceling programs, meetings, mobile library service through March 31

The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library is canceling programs, meetings, outreach, and mobile library service until March 31, according to a news release.

Because of the threat of the COVID-19 as well as cancellation from some speakers and community groups, KCKPL is canceling all meetings, programs, outreach and Mobile Library services immediately until at least March 31, library officials stated.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause,” according to the library’s statement. “We are thinking of the health of all our patrons, partners, students and staff. We are encouraging patrons to access our eCommunity. The library will still be open. You can find more information on our website at https://www.kckpl.org/resources/health/coronavirus.html.”