U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s bill to expand vaccine access for veterans and their spouses passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday.
The bill had wide bipartisan support from the Senate and House Veterans Affairs committees. It passed the Senate on March 17.
Sen. Moran, R-Kansas, with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, as well as Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, and Rep. Mike Bost, R-Illinois, led the effort to get the bill passed. The bill went to the President for a signature.
Spouses of veterans were not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines from the VA under the previous rules.
The Save Lives Act would allow the VA to provide COVID-19 vaccination services to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs recipients, when vaccine supplies are available.
The bill also asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allocate more vaccine to the VA based on the increased eligibility, as much as the supply chain allows.
“Military service is family service, and that is why the VA and this committee aim to care for both veterans and their families,” Sen. Moran, ranking member, said. “I urge the President to quickly sign this legislation into law to make certain the VA has the freedom to vaccinate veteran spouses, non-enrolled veterans, caregivers, overseas veterans and others with excess COVID-19 vaccine supply. While the VA will continue to prioritize vaccinating VHA enrolled veterans with its allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine, this legislation will help further protect our veterans and their families.”
This legislation will expand VA’s authority to provide vaccines to:
• Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA’s health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain threshold;
• Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs;
• Veterans living abroad who rely on the Foreign Medical Program;
• Spouses of veterans; and
• CHAMPVA recipients (spouses or children of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities).
COVID-19 case numbers reported
The University of Kansas Health System reported eight active COVID-19 patients on Friday morning, a decrease of one since Thursday, according to Dr. Hawkinson. Of the eght patients, three were in the intensive care unit, the same number as Thursday. One patient was on a ventilator, the same as Thursday. There were another 15 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized but are out of the acute infection phase, a decrease of two since Thursday. There is a total 23 patients, a decrease of three from Thursday.
Wyandotte County reported no change in COVID-19 cases on Friday, March 19, for a cumulative 17,941 cases. There was a cumulative total of 281 deaths reported, no change since Thursday. Case numbers are not updated on the weekend.
The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 162,820 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Saturday. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 68. The number of cumulative deaths was 2,300. The MARC dashboard numbers did not change on Sunday..
The state of Kansas reported 299,510 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Friday, March 19, an increase of 606 cases since Wednesday. There were a total cumulative 4,842 deaths reported, an increase of five deaths. Kansas reported 967,877 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the state as of 9 a.m. March 19, including first and second doses. In all, 22.2 percent of the Kansas population was vaccinated with at least one dose. The state of Kansas updates its information on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Sunday night reported 29,818,528 cases in the United States, with 542,356 total deaths reported nationwide.
Vaccinations available Monday
Wyandotte County will start Phases 3 and 4 in the state’s vaccination plan on Monday, March 22.
People with certain underlying health conditions and other critical workers are in these phases. They may fill out the Health Department’s vaccine interest form at WycoVaccines.org or call 3-1-1. Appointments are needed.
Those who are ages 16 to 64 with severe medical conditions, listed in the state’s plan, are in Phase 3, and those 16 to 64 with other medical conditions are listed in Phase 4.
The list includes cancer patients, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions, pregnant patients and some other categories. To view the list of the severe medical conditions in Phase 3 and other conditions in Phase 4, view the vaccine plan on the state’s website at https://www.kansasvaccine.gov/DocumentCenter/View/121/Vaccine-Prioritization-Slides-PDF.
Also in Phase 3 are “other critical workers,” according to the state plan. These workers were listed in the plan as:
• Agricultural and food workers not included in previous phases
• Workers performing in-person activities indoors, in critical manufacturing, not included in previous phases; this includes aviation, production of critical supplies for the COVID response
• Utility workers
• Social service and government workers not included in previous priority phases
• Logistics workers, such as truck transportation workers, couriers and others
• Water and wastewater workers
• Shelter and housing (e.g., construction) workers, finance (e.g., bank tellers)
• Information technology and communications workers.
Those who want to be vaccinated in Phases 3 and 4 should complete the UG Health Department’s vaccine interest form online at WycoVaccines.org or call 3-1-1, and they will be contacted to schedule appointments.
The Unified Government Health Department is still offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccines Monday through Friday for Wyandotte County residents who are 65 and older, and also for high-contact critical workers in Phases 1 and 2. The walk-in appointments are not for Phases 3 and 4.
Those Wyandotte County residents who are 65 or older, and critical workers in Phases 1 and 2, can walk in and do not need an appointment from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the vaccination sites at the former Kmart store at 7836 State Ave., the former Best Buy store at 10500 Parallel Parkway and the Kansas National Guard Armory at 100 S. 20th (near 18th and Ridge).
Those in Phases 1 and 2 who walk in to get vaccines should bring an ID and something showing their Wyandotte County address, such as mail. Critical workers should bring a work badge or a document showing they work in Wyandotte County.
Those Wyandotte County residents who are younger than 65, or are not eligible yet, may fill out a form expressing interest in getting a vaccine at WycoVaccines.org or call 3-1-1.
For more information about vaccines at the UG Health Department, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-vaccines-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/.
There are also pharmacies giving COVID-19 vaccinations in Wyandotte County by appointment, when available. These include Price Chopper and Hen House pharmacy at 76th and State Avenue, and 81st and State Avenue (see https://www.ballsfoodspharmacy.com/), and Medicine Shoppe pharmacy at 65th and Parallel by appointment when available (see https://www.facebook.com/The-Medicine-Shoppe-Kansas-City-281548241870522). CVS pharmacy also has announced Thursday that it will offer COVID-19 vaccines at one of its stores in Kansas City, Kansas, beginning as early as March 21. Registration is at CVS.com.
COVID-19 tests scheduled Monday
Free COVID-19 tests are offered from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, March 22, at the Oak Ridge Baptist Church, 9301 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas. The tests are in conjunction with the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force. Appointments are not necessary. Free groceries will be given to those who are tested Monday at this site, while supplies last.
Unified Government Health Department COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites are scheduled to be open on Monday, March 22. The test site at the former Kmart building at 78th and State will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, March 22. Appointments are not needed for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations for those over 65 on Monday. There is also a UG Health Department location for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at the former Best Buy store, 10500 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas. A third Health Department site, for vaccinations, is at the Kansas National Guard Armory at 100 S. 20th.
More information is at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19. To see if there is any change to the schedule, visit https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.
The Health Department is offering saliva COVID-19 tests to the public. Tests from the Health Department are free for those who live or work in Wyandotte County.
The tests are open to asymptomatic people as well as those who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. Check with the UG Health Department’s Facebook page to see if there have been any changes in the schedule. Bring something that shows that you live or work in Wyandotte County, such as a utility bill.
Other COVID-19 testing sites are planned Monday. To see the sites affiliated with the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.
Other testing sites, through WellHealth, are at www.gogettested.com/Kansas. The WellHealth tests need appointments. One site on this list is Lowe’s at 6920 State Ave., which will be open at 8 a.m. Monday.Appointments can be made at the website www.gogettested.com/Kansas.
Saliva testing is now offered at the UG Health Department. For more information, visit https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/02042021-ugphd-saliva-testing-available.pdf.
The new school health order is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/localhealthofficerschoolorder3.11.21.pdf.
The University of Kansas Health System COVID-19 update page is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/265130208445513.
A weekly vaccine report for the state of Kansas is at
Wyandotte County is under a mandatory mask and social distancing order.
The UG COVID-19 webpage is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.
The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/.
The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at https://marc2.org/covidhub/.
The Wyandotte County page on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website is at https://bao.arcgis.com/covid-19/jhu/county/20209.html.
The Johns Hopkins Data in Motion, a presentation on critical COVID-19 data in the past 24 hours, is at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/covid-19-daily-video.