More than 9 percent of the Kansas population is now vaccinated with a double dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to Gov. Laura Kelly.
About 18 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the governor. She made her remarks during a conference call on Friday to local elected officials.
Gov. Kelly said the past few weeks have seen case numbers decline by 52 percent, deaths decrease by 62 percent, and hospitalizations decrease by 35 percent in Kansas.
Getting businesses open as quickly as possible and getting kids back to the classroom have been the goals since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the governor.
Almost all teachers, child care providers and school staff now have at least received the first vaccine, she said.
Meatpacking workers also have been prioritized because they work in a very high risk environment, she said.
Gov. Kelly said the state is taking steps to ensure more equitable vaccine distribution, especially among communities of color and vulnerable populations, which have been hit the hardest. Dr. Ximena Garcia has been appointed to be the governor’s new adviser for COVID-19 vaccination equity.
Gov. Kelly said Dr. Garcia will ensure the state is maximizing its delivery and administration of vaccines in socially vulnerable communities across the state.
The state’s race and ethnicity figures for vaccinations showed that the rate of whites vaccinated is more than double that of Blacks in the state, and also the rate of non-Hispanics vaccinated is more than twice that of Hispanics in the state. Also, many more women than men have been vaccinated. The race and ethnicity figures are at https://www.kansasvaccine.gov/158/Data.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment vaccination map, Wyandotte County is among the lowest counties for vaccinations per resident rates in the state, at 103.9 residents vaccinated per 1,000. Leavenworth County is at 125.5 per 1,000 and Johnson County is at 158.8 per 1,000, according to the map. The map is at www.kansasvaccine.gov/158/Data.
Unified Government Health Department officials said on Thursday that they previously vaccinated some health care workers, teachers and school staff who worked in Wyandotte County but did not live in Wyandotte County. According to the Health Department, the priority now will be on vaccinating people who live in Wyandotte County.
The governor also mentioned the new CDC guidelines on gatherings, where fully vaccinated people may gather in small groups at homes two weeks after their last dose.
Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, said during the Friday conference call that Kansas now has the fifth best 7-day rolling average of declining case rates in the country.
More than 800,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Kansas, he said.
People who are 65 or older account for 52 percent of the vaccines given, he said. Many of the recipients in phase 1 and 2 were younger, in employment groups that were prioritized, including health care.
Vaccinations at nursing homes have been completed, and extra doses at the pharmacies that administered them now are reverting back to the state, which is sending more vaccines to counties, he said.
The KDHE sent National Guard personnel to Sedgwick County to assist with vaccinations, as Sedgwick had the largest inventory of vaccines on hand, he said. Two teams went there Wednesday and a third on Thursday, running a mass vaccination clinic. The 15 Army National Guard members will stay as long as they are needed, he said, with vaccinations planned through the weekend.
The federal government sent vaccine doses directly to pharmacies in Kansas in the national retail pharmacy plan, he said. The pharmacies are vaccinating people who are 65 and older, and also have vaccinated teachers, child care workers and will be vaccinating grocery, retail, food service workers, factory workers, long-term care and assisted living residents.
Dr. Norman said front-line essential workers are vaccinated because they tend to get infected after being exposed at work to so many people. Another reason they are vaccinated is because they are very pivotal at spreading illnesses and they can’t control their settings, he said. The hope is that by vaccinating them, it will minimize the spread of COVID-19, according to Dr. Norman.
Major Gen. David Weishaar, adjutant general, said Friday was day 365 since the governor declared the state of disaster for Kansas. With the disaster declaration, they have authority and latitude to move supplies, equipment and personnel to respond to the public health disaster, he said. Without the declaration, they are very limited as to what they can do to assist cities and counties, he added.
The state emergency operations center now is receiving about 50 requests per week from counties, mostly for supplies, personal protective equipment, sample transport, and medical support for vaccinations, he said.
During the past few weeks, the National Guard has assisted in 8,500 vaccinations, Gen. Weishaar said. He added this is a short-term solution. The National Guard also recently provided five BlackHawk helicopters to assist in dropping water on wildfires this week in Kansas, he said.
How long does immunity last?
Doctors and staff at the University of Kansas Health System on Friday morning discussed how long immunity could last after a person is vaccinated.
Currently, immunity is two weeks after the vaccine doses are completed, but there is not a clear answer on how long it will last, said Lance Williamson, infection prevention and control nurse supervisor, said.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control, said immunity occurs two weeks after the vaccines are completed. They are hoping people continue to have good immunity for six to nine months to a year, but they don’t know the length of immunity at this time, he said. Studies are ongoing to determine this, he said.
As they get farther out, there is continued study on the length of immunity, according to Dr. David Wild, vice president of performance improvement at KU Health System. Immunity isn’t just antibody levels, he said. There’s also memory function and T-cell functions that are important in that, he said.
Dr. Wild said he didn’t think health care workers need to be worried about it ending after three months.
In response to a question, Dr. Wild said that they didn’t have all the details about 600 doses that were reported spoiled Thursday and had to be thrown out at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Douglas County.
He said KU Health System is ready and is comfortable that it has worked out the details of how to manage vaccines, including the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. There is a process in place at the health system, including some double-checks, he said. They will take what they can from the incident in Douglas County and learn from it, he said.
Dr. Wild also said that KU Health System will expand vaccination clinics in Johnson County next week, in conjunction with the Johnson County Health Department. More vaccines are coming from the state next week, he said. As Johnson County is completing the 65 and older group, the KU Health System will help vaccinating the others in the county’s Phase 2 plan, including grocery workers, restaurant workers, food processing workers, restaurant and bar employees, warehouses, manufacturing plants, bus and transportation workers and some others who live or work in Johnson County.
COVID-19 case numbers reported
Case numbers at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, increased slightly on Friday morning, according to the doctors. The health system reported eight active COVID-19 patients on Friday, an increase of three since Thursday, according to Dr. Hawkinson. Three were in the intensive care unit and two were on ventilators. There were another 19 COVID-19 patients in the hospital who were out of the acute infection phase, an increase of one from Thursday. In all, there were 27 COVID-19 patients, an increase of four since Thursday.
Wyandotte County reported an increase of 58 COVID-19 cases on Friday, March 12, since Thursday, for a cumulative 17,870 cases. There was a cumulative total of 278 deaths reported, no change since Thursday.
The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 161,221 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Friday. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 83.
The state of Kansas reported 297,748 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Friday, March 12, an increase of 519 cases since Wednesday. There were a total cumulative 4,824 deaths, a decrease after a review of deaths.
The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Friday night reported 29,345,660 cases in the United States, with 532,555 total deaths nationwide.
COVID-19 tests scheduled Saturday
Free COVID-19 tests will be available from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 13, at the Vibrant Health Central location, 21 N. 12th St., Kansas City, Kansas.
The tests are through the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force. Groceries will be given away to those who get tested, while supplies last. Appointments are not necessary.
Another COVID-19 testing site will be at Lowe’s, 6920 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 13. Tests are through WellHealth. Appointments are required, check with the website, www.gogettested.com/Kansas, for available appointment times.
Unified Government COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites are scheduled to be open on Monday, March 16. The Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 test site at the former Kmart building at 78th and State will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, March 16. Appointments are not needed for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations for those over 65 on Monday. Walk-in vaccinations are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 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.
Walk-in vaccines available for those 65 and older
The UG Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines Monday through Friday for Wyandotte County residents who are 65 and older.
Those Wyandotte County residents who are 65 or older can walk in and do not need an appointment from 10 a.m. to 2 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.
Those who are critical workers still need appointments for vaccines.
All those 65 and older should bring an ID or other proof of age, such as a driver’s license, government ID or birth certificate, as well as something showing their Wyandotte County address, such as an ID or a piece of mail.
Those Wyandotte County residents who are younger than 65, and any Wyandotte County resident, may fill out a form expressing interest in getting a vaccine at WycoVaccines.org or call 3-1-1.
The Health Department’s general contact page is at https://www.wycokck.org/Health/Contact.aspx. The general Health Department phone number is 913-573-8855. Their general email address is email@example.com. Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.
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 KU doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/440711150536589
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
Cards and letters of encouragement for caregivers at KU Health System may be sent to Share Joy, care of Patient Relations, 4000 Cambridge St., Mailstop 1021, Kansas City, Kansas, 66160. Emails can be sent to ShareJoy@kumc.edu.
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.