Kansas City metro area health officials are grappling with how to handle continuing case count increases after reopening businesses more than five months ago. What you need to know:The Kansas Department of      Health and Environment said Monday the state has 291,715 confirmed cases      of COVID-19, and there have been 4,643 deaths since the outbreak started. Overall the state said 11.6% of the population has been vaccinated. Kansas is now only updating COVID-19 data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Missouri Department of      Health and Senior Services said Monday there have been 475,348 cases of      COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak and 7,715 deaths. Overall the state said 11.5% of the population has received at least one dose. MONDAY12:30 p.m. -- The Kansas Departmet of Health and Environment reported an increase of 883 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday, pushing the statewide total to 291,715 since the outbreak started.KDHE officials said Monday the death total grew by 29 to 4,643 and hospitalizations increased by 32 to 9,103 since the outbreak started. The state said it has tested 1,243,499 people with 951,784 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.1% -- the lowest it’s been in weeks. The state also said it has vaccinated 339,190 people, 483,205 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 11.6% of the population has been vaccinated.[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]Johnson County is the county with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak with 53,708 cases. Sedgwick County is second with 53,235. Wyandotte County is third with 19,039 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,708 cases, Douglas County reports 8,193 and Miami County has 2,600Health officials they are monitoring 210 active outbreak clusters.10:30 a.m. -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 475,348 on Monday, which is an increase of 351 cases.The state said there have now been 7,715 (+0) deaths since the start of the outbreak.The state said it has administered 1,029,785 vaccine doses, 703,014 people have received at least one dose and 326,771 people have received a second dose. Overall, the state said 11.5% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,403,835 and 50,253 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 2,843 positive cases and an average of 406 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,572 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,886 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,820 cases in Clay County, 7,170 in Cass County and 3,071 in Platte County.10:15 a.m. -- The number of new Missouri coronavirus cases continued to decline on Monday, but state officials cite one cause for concern: Wastewater samples indicate the fast-spreading U.K. variant is “widespread” across the state. READ MORE9 a.m. -- Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 36 acute COVID-19 cases, including 11 that are in the ICU and six on ventilators. In addition, 36 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 72 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.8:45 a.m. -- The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said the cold weather that mired much of the country for last week has impacted delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to its locations in Kansas.  As of Monday, the JCDHE said it still plans to continue its vaccination plans for the week of Feb. 22, but we should learn more today about the updated plans for vaccinations this week.  The extreme cold and winter weather caused 6 million vaccine doses to be delayed, but over the weekend the White House announced 2 million of those doses have been delivered and expects to have the rest delivered by the middle of this week. READ MORE6 a.m. -- With the U.S. approaching 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, President Joe Biden will mark the grim milestone Monday with a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence, the White House said Sunday.The event, which is set for 5:15 p.m. at the White House, will also feature first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Biden will deliver remarks on the lives lost ahead of the ceremony.The ceremony underscores the empathetic message Biden has sought to bring to the U.S. coronavirus response since taking office last month. On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was working on plans so the president could use his "own voice and platform to take a moment to remember the people whose lives have been lost, the families who are still suffering." READ MORE[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]SUNDAY9:30 p.m. -- Nights became longer and celebrations bigger in Kansas City this weekend. Under the updated health order, bars can stay open past midnight, and size limits on events and gatherings will no longer be in place if social distancing requirements are met. READ MORE9 p.m. -- Officials of the Clay County Public Health Center have updated their emergency order. Effective immediately, Clay County restaurants, bars, and taverns may resume permitted operating hours. READ MORE12:30 p.m. -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 474,997 on Sunday, which is an increase of 410 cases.The state said there have now been 7,715 (+0) deaths since the start of the outbreak.The state said it has administered 1,024,449 vaccine doses, 700,884 people have received at least one dose and 323,565 people have received a second dose. Overall, the state said 11.4% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,395,885 and 52,539 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,147 positive cases and an average of 450 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,552 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,875 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,816 cases in Clay County, 7,165 in Cass County and 3,069 in Platte County.8:30 a.m.  -- Meatpacking plants were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, yet thousands of workers at facilities in southwest Kansas are still waiting to hear when they’ll be vaccinated.The Kansas News Service reported that the wait is frustrating for workers who have watched college faculty, first responders and postal workers get their vaccines, and Kansas has launched a program to get a first dose into the arms of every school worker by early April.Meatpacking plants have been the state’s third-largest source of COVID-19 outbreaks, topped only by long-term care facilities and correctional centers.“Meatpacking workers have taken one of the hardest hits of this pandemic,” said Monica Vargas-Huertas, political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 2 representing 7,000 meatpacking workers in two southwest Kansas counties.“They kept working, securing the food (supply),” Vargas-Huertas said, “and securing the economy of the state.”But state officials say meatpacking facilities took steps that greatly reduced transmission. They note plants have seen no new outbreaks involving five or more cases in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, Kansas simply isn’t receiving enough vaccine from the federal government to quickly vaccinate all essential workers.Ashley Goss, deputy secretary for public health, said Gov. Laura Kelly wants to get children back to school soon because missing in-person contact with peers and educators can have long-term effects on learning and mental health.“She’s had to make some really tough decisions,” Goss said. “And she feels very strongly for our school staff to be the next push.”Kansas has some of the country’s most productive beef plants, driving the economies of towns such as Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal. Meatpacking workers are mainly immigrants and people of color.Evidence suggests people of color nationwide don’t have equal access to vaccines. Kansas will soon publish coronavirus vaccination statistics that shed light on whether that holds true in Kansas, too.Nearly 4,000 cases of COVID-19 and two dozen deaths have been linked directly to Kansas meat plants.Phase 1 of Kansas’ vaccine rollout plan focused on health care workers and nursing homes. Meatpacking workers fall into Phase 2, along with over age 65, teachers, police and grocery clerks — about 1 million people, or a third of the state’s population. The state largely lets each county decide how to prioritize within Phase 2. This week the governor’s office announced one exception: It will earmark doses each week for school workers.[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]SATURDAY12:20 p.m. -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 474,587 on Saturday, which is an increase of 566 cases.The state said there have now been 7,715 (+6) deaths since the start of the outbreak.The state said it has administered 1,006,984 vaccine doses, 693,402 people have received at least one dose and 313,582 people have received a second dose. Overall, the state said 11.3% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,384,0973 and 53,921 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,345 positive cases and an average of 478 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,524 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,845 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,807 cases in Clay County, 7,162 in Cass County and 3,068 in Platte County.[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]FRIDAY5:45 p.m. -- Douglas County's health department  new health order took effect Friday that expands the mass gathering limit, as well as hours of operation for bars and restaurants serving food and drinks indoors. The new order is in recognition of fewer COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the community. The updated order took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The changes include:    Expanding the mass gathering limit from 10 people to 25 people. Mass gatherings are defined as instances in which individuals are in one location and are unable to maintain 6-foot distance between individuals – not including individuals who reside together.     If there is an outdoor event, the gathering is limited to 200 people and attendees must comply with social distancing rules.     An indoor capacity limit of 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the facility where the gathering is occurring. This applies to entertainment venues, recreational facilities, restaurants, bars and other businesses serving food and/or drink indoors. The indoor capacity limit of 100 people has been removed under the new order.     Starting Friday, Feb. 19, venues and establishments serving food and drink, including alcoholic beverages, must close their premises no later than midnight. This includes all outside seating areas and patios. The closure time previously was 10 p.m.     Carryout, curbside, drive-through or off-premise delivery of food is allowed after midnight, but not alcoholic beverages. The time previously was 10 p.m. The public health order still requires people older than 5 to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, except when eating, drinking, swimming or if they have a medical condition that prevents it – and outdoor public spaces where unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance.3:30 p.m. -- Independence Mayor Eileen Weir, in consultation with Acting Health Director Christina Heinen, issued updated health orders which will go into effect at 12 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2021. “Thanks to the consistent actions of our businesses and citizens, we have seen a decline in regional cases and hospitalizations related to COVID-19,” Mayor Weir said. “It is important to note we are not yet out of the woods and must continue to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and stay home if we are sick. We are today taking steps to relax capacity limitations on religious gatherings, weddings, funerals and dining. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as needed.”Updated guidelines from the City of Independence: Indoor      and outdoor dining is limited to 50% capacity, however there is no limit      on the size of parties of patrons. Bars,      restaurants and taverns may now remain open as permitted by their liquor      license. All      gathering limits on faith services have been relaxed. Faith organizations      are no longer required to submit a gathering protocol form but are asked      to continue voluntarily wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and      regularly washing their hands and shared surfaces.  Entertainment      and recreational venues are no longer required to submit gathering      protocol forms but must maintain the 50 percent capacity at their given      venue. These venues can submit gathering protocol forms for proposed      events with capacity greater than 50% for review.You can read the full orders here. 3 p.m. --Gov. Laura Kelly has announced plans to fix issues that have led Kansas to underreport the number of people vaccinated for COVID-19. Kelly has said the state's vaccination rate consistently ranks among the lowest in the country because of technical problems with the tracking system. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows Kansas has administered 72% of the 581,975 doses it has received, up from 60.2% a week ago. Kelly says the state is addressing underlying data transfer problems and, starting Monday, providers will be required to report data daily on doses received and administered. Providers with identified reporting issues will face additional requirements.2:25 p.m. -- Special Olympics Kansas announced Friday that the 2021 summer games have been canceled because of the pandemic. The games were scheduled for June 4-6 in Wichita. READ MORE2 p.m. -- The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said the cold weather that has mired much of the country for the past week has impacted delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to its locations in Kansas.  As of Friday, the JCDHE said it still plans to continue its vaccination plans for the week of Feb. 22, but the details are subject to change. READ MORE1:15 p.m. -- The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 2,115 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Wednesday, pushing the statewide total to 290,832 since the outbreak started.KDHE officials said Friday the death total grew by 93 to 4,614 and hospitalizations increased by 69 to 9,071 since the outbreak started. The state said it has tested 1,238,423 people with 947,591 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.1% -- the lowest it’s been in weeks. The state also said it has vaccinated 324,635 people, 456,093 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 11.1% of the population has been vaccinated.[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]Johnson County passed Sedgwick County to become the county with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak with 53,652 cases. Sedgwick County is second with 53,047. Wyandotte County is third with 18,935 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,680 cases, Douglas County reports 8,171 and Miami County has 2,592.Health officials they are monitoring 210 active outbreak clusters.12:15 p.m. -- Mayor Quinton Lucas said Friday Kansas City, Missouri, will allow bars and restaurants to resume normal permitted hours and size limits on events and gatherings will no longer be in place, if social distancing requirements are met.In a news conference, Lucas stressed the mask mandate is still in place throughout the city – both indoors and outdoors unless you are actively eating or drinking and unable to keep socially distant. But he also said relaxing a part of the emergency order for bars, restaurants, events and gatherings is the right thing to do with case counts and positivity rates decreasing to levels that were consistent with early October. READ MORE11:30 a.m. -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 474,021 on Friday, which is an increase of 562 cases.The state said there have now been 7,709 (+14) deaths since the start of the outbreak. The state said it has administered 966,807 vaccine doses, 680,951 people have received at least one dose and 285,856 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 11.1% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,373,021 and 56,180 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,529 positive cases and an average of 504 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,486 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,783 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,775 cases in Clay County, 7,157 in Cass County and 3,062 in Platte County.8 a.m. -- Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 38 acute COVID-19 cases, including 10 that are in the ICU and four on ventilators. In addition, 34 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 72 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.6 a.m. -- The economy is slowly improving in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but employment remains below the level it was at before the coronavirus pandemic began last year, according to a new monthly survey of bankers released Thursday.The overall index for the region increased to 53.8 in February from January’s 52. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said the number of jobs in the region is down roughly 146,000, or 3.3%, from the level it was at before the pandemic began. The survey’s hiring index hit 51.9 in February, up from January’s weak 46, to suggest businesses are now hiring, but Goss said it will take several month’s of steady growth to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels. The bankers surveyed are optimistic about the economy as grain prices and exports continue to increase. The survey’s confidence index increased to 64 in February from January’s 60. Goss said the Federal Reserve’s current record low short-term interest rates are also helping the economy.Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]THURSDAY10:05 p.m. -- Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will announce updated COVID-19 guidelines on Friday.  Details will be announced at a noon news conference. READ MORE6:25 p.m. -- Clay County health officials said that due to inclement weather across the nation, its vaccine shipment has been delayed. The Operation Safe Vaccine Clinics planned for Friday and Saturday are postponed. Health officials said they will contact residents to reschedule appointments when vaccine delivery is confirmed.3:15 p.m. -- Due to severe weather conditions across the country, the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Centers, said it is currently experiencing challenges with receiving vaccine deliveries. The VA said it may impact vaccination appointments that are scheduled over the next few days. "If you are experiencing a delay or schedule change for your vaccination appointment or any other procedure, please know that we will continue to work to reschedule appointments," the VA said. "As always, our priority remains the safety of Veterans and our staff. Please do not attempt to go to a facility if doing so would be unsafe. For those scheduled, please know our teams will be reaching out to reschedule as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience."2:15 p.m. -- College students who lost class time or were forced into online classes because of the pandemic could have some of their tuition refunded under a measure Kansas lawmakers are debating. A House panel amended the state’s higher education budget Wednesday to require that colleges, community colleges and technical schools reimburse students for 50% of the tuition paid every day they spent online instead of in the classroom. The amendment would reimburse at 100% for days that students missed class entirely. READ MORE12:45 p.m. -- According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is at its lowest in the last decade. The CDC said it is possible COVID-19 mitigation efforts have kept the virus at bay this season. READ MORE11:30 a.m. -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 473,459 on Thursday, which is an increase of 718 cases.The state said there have now been 7,695 (+225) deaths since the start of the outbreak. The MDHSS said 218 of the new deaths reported were attributed to further analysis of death certificates, including two deaths dating back to July and August of 2020.The state said it has administered 939,810 vaccine doses, 666,430 people have received at least one dose and 273,380 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.9% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,359,840 and 59,265 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,734 positive cases and an average of 533 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,436 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,741 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,766 cases in Clay County, 7,144 in Cass County and 3,055 in Platte County.10:15 a.m. -- Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a bill to make a temporary rule allowing curbside cocktails during the coronavirus pandemic permanent. The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control temporarily relaxed liquor rules so restaurants could sell to-go mixed drinks when the virus first hit the state last year, but the waiver is set to expire at the end of March. READ MORE8 a.m. -- Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 33 acute COVID-19 cases, including eight that are in the ICU and two on ventilators. In addition, 36 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 69 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.6 a.m. --Detainees have complained for decades about conditions inside St. Louis’ jails, but when COVID-19 worries were added to the mix, the tension reached breaking point.In the predawn hours of Feb. 6, 117 inmates at the downtown City Justice Center broke free from their cells. They smashed windows, set fires and tossed chairs, a filing cabinet and other items through the broken glass onto the street four stories below. A corrections officer was briefly hospitalized.“These were just very angry, defiant, very violent people that we house at the justice center,” Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said at a news conference that day.It was the third uprising at the downtown jail since December. Advocates say concerns about COVID-19 are at the heart of the anger.“They were fed up and scared for their lives,” said Tracy Stanton of EXPO, a nonprofit advocacy group made up of former detainees. “This last resistance happened because they still were not being heard. At this point, the pot had boiled over.”Edwards said there are “zero” virus cases at the jail. Yet so far in 2021, more than 100 inmates or people speaking for them have called a hotline to report positive tests or coronavirus symptoms, said Inez Bordeaux of ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit law firm that operates the hotline.Litel Joyner, 60, said his son, Litel Gilmore, 41, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 30 while housed at the justice center.“He’s really not doing well,” Joyner said. “I think the COVID has kind of taken control of him.”Edwards’ spokesman said he would not comment further. Inmates complain about a lack of COVID-19 precautions. City officials declined interview requests but cited protocols that include 14-day quarantine periods for each new detainee, masks replaced upon request and testing anytime a detainee or a nurse detects symptoms.U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, a longtime activist in St. Louis, sent a letter last week to city leaders calling for more transparency about jail conditions and COVID-19 protocols.“Every person in our society deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Bush, a Democrat, wrote.Mayor Lyda Krewson appointed a task force that plans public meetings as part of its examination of conditions at both St. Louis jails. The task force includes the head of the local NAACP, two aldermen and others, and is led by the Rev. Darryl Gray, a longtime activist leader.The virus is creating anger inside the jail in another way. Jury trials were shut down early in the pandemic because of social distancing restrictions. Many detainees awaiting trial have been jailed for more than a year with no trial date in sight, said Matthew Mahaffey, who heads the public defender office in St. Louis.The City Justice Center is the largest of two correctional facilities in St. Louis, opening in 2002. Though relatively modern, one major design flaw has become obvious — some cell locks don’t work.“Unfortunately, inside of our system in certain units, our detainees have the ability to jimmy their locks,” Edwards said. “And the locks don’t necessarily lock. Even though our automated panel system would indicate the cells are locked, they are in fact not locked.” The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted Wednesday to spend $1.5 million to fix the faulty lock system. The board decided to use money budgeted for employee salaries at the facility that won’t be needed because of vacancies, said director Paul Payne.Mayor Lyda Krewson’s spokesman, Jacob Long, said the work is projected to take 10 to 12 weeks. Officials said more money may be needed to cover the overall cost.In the interim, about half the detainees involved in the uprising have been moved to another floor where the locks work, city spokesman Jacob Long said. The other half were moved to a medium-security jail known as the workhouse.The workhouse has, for decades, been the subject of criticism. A 2017 lawsuit filed by ArchCity Defenders cited rodent infestations, overflowing toilets, extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter.It remains open despite a pledge from the Board of Aldermen last year to close it. City leaders now say closure would lead to overcrowding at the justice center.Stanton, now a college student, recalled being jailed at the workhouse in 2016 when she was addicted to drugs. She was inside when another female inmate hung herself, and two others suffered serious wounds from spider bites, she said.Stanton’s brother, Roland Pullum, was jailed on a trespassing charge at the workhouse in 2013. She said he had been stabbed in the head prior to incarceration, and that he died while he was in jail.“He went from the hospital to the jail,” Stanton said. “He wanted some medical help, something wasn’t right.”She said guards think detainees who ask for help just want attention or to be let out of their cells.Bordeaux said detainee treatment isn’t just a St. Louis problem — activists in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Atlanta and elsewhere are fighting similar battles.“Once people walk inside of a jail, we, as a society, immediately tend to strip them of their humanity,” Bordeaux said. “When it comes to the list of priorities that many cities have, taking care of people accused of crime is very far down on the list.” [ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]WEDNESDAY9:30 p.m. -- Kansas will put a priority on vaccinating teachers and other school staff against COVID-19 so that K-12 students across the state can resume in-person classes as quickly as possible, Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday.The Democratic governor's announcement came a week after she told leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature that 60% of the state's 286 school districts had started inoculating teachers. The state's public schools have about 72,000 staff members, including 34,000 certified teachers. READ MORE4:45 p.m. -- Public health leaders in Lawrence and Douglas County have updated the local health order to expand the mass gathering limit and to expand hours of operation for venues and establishments serving food and drinks indoors. READ MORE2:30 p.m. -- The city of Merriam says it will be able to open its indoor pool on March 1 after new guidance from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. READ MORE2 p.m. -- Rural Missouri counties are both the most and least successful at getting COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of residents, according to data from the state’s coronavirus dashboard on Wednesday.Shelby County, with just 6,400 residents in a remote area of northeast Missouri, has provided at least one dose of the vaccine to 20.7% of residents. Atchison County, with just under 6,000 residents in Missouri’s far northwestern corner, has vaccinated 20.2% of residents, followed by Worth County at 18.2%.Among the top 15 counties for vaccinations, just one — Cape Girardeau County — has more than 50,000 residents. Cape Girardeau County is tied for fourth with Gasconade County, where 17% of residents have received a dose.Pulaski County, which is home to Fort Leonard Wood and has 52,000 residents, has the lowest vaccination rate at just 4.2%, followed by other outstate counties — Newton at 4.4%, McDonald at 4.7%, Crawford at 5.2% and Pemiscot at 5.5%.Overall, 10.6% of Missourians have received at least one dose, and data shows the two urban areas lag behind.Some St. Louis-area leaders have raised concerns that the region is not getting its fair share of vaccine, prompting an angry rebuke from Gov. Mike Parson. The Republican governor last week accused the region’s leaders — particularly Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force — of using “cherry-picked” data.The information on the state dashboard shows that just 7.8% of Jackson County residents have received a shot. In the St. Louis region, vaccination rates were 9.3% in the city, 7.2% in St. Louis County, 8.2% in St. Charles County and just 6.1% in Jefferson County.The number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to decline. The state on Wednesday reported 598 new cases and 12 new deaths. The state has reported 472,741 confirmed cases and 7,470 deaths since the pandemic began.With hospitalizations also on the decline, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced that the county is easing restrictions on youth and adult sports.Effective Wednesday, the county will allow competitive games and tournaments for all sports as long as only two teams are present on the field or court at the same time. Limits continue on the number of spectators.Restrictions had been in place since September, drawing protests from parents and athletes.1:15 p.m. -- The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 1,267 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Monday, pushing the statewide total to 288,717 since the outbreak started.KDHE officials said Wednesday the death total grew by 115 to 4,521 and hospitalizations increased by 79 to 9,002 since the outbreak started. The state said it has tested 1,229,298 people with 940,581 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.3%. The state also said it has vaccinated 303,677 people, 418,653 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 10.4% of the population has been vaccinated.[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]Sedgwick County has the highest total of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak with 52,832. Johnson County is second with 52,582 cases. Wyandotte County is third with 18,792 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,632 cases, Douglas County reports 8,137 and Miami County has 2,581.Health officials they are monitoring 210 active outbreak clusters.1 p.m. -- The Unified Government Public Health Department said Wednesday that people who live in Wyandotte County and are over 65 years old are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. The UGPHD said it’s now scheduling vaccinations for those at highest risk, and highest priority will be given for seniors who live in zip codes 66101, 66102 and 66105. READ MORENoon -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 472,741 on Wednesday, which is an increase of 1,079 cases.The state said there have now been 7,470 (+12) deaths since the start of the outbreak.The state said it has administered 910,3380 vaccine doses, 650,449 people have received at least one dose and 259,889 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.6% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,350,392 and 70,446 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 4,227 positive cases and an average of 604 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,393 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,614 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,749 cases in Clay County, 7,130 in Cass County and 3,050 in Platte County.9:15 a.m. -- “Our state’s teachers and support staff have faithfully risked their lives this year,” a letter says from Missouri’s 2017-2021 Teachers of the Year. It is addressed to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams and it presses him to let teachers and support staff get their coronavirus vaccinations immediately.” READ MORE8 a.m. -- Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 31 acute COVID-19 cases, including eight that are in the ICU and two on ventilators. In addition, 39 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 70 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.7 a.m. -- Kansas is likely to have pockets of a new, more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and public health officials believe it could become the state’s dominant strain, the head of the state health department said Tuesday.Dr. Lee Norman also said that winter weather across the central and eastern U.S. has created a “brief speed bump” in the second phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Norman said the shipment of some vaccine doses from the federal government have been delayed a few days, and below-zero temperatures prompted the Shawnee County health department in northeast Kansas to cancel a vaccination clinic.The first recorded Kansas case of the United Kingdom coronavirus variant was in Ellis County earlier this month, infecting a student-athlete at Fort Hays State University “who never was particularly very ill,” Norman said. The state health department said Monday that a second case  had been identified in Sedgwick County, home to Wichita, and Norman said the person infected was a “young man” who had traveled out of state.Public health officials said the emergence of the coronavirus variant in a majority of states means that people can’t let their guard down about wearing masks, social distancing and taking other precautions. Norman said the case in Ellis County in northwest Kansas and in Sedgwick County in south-central Kansas are not connected.“We are getting the feeling that it will become a dominant strain because it is more infectious,” Norman said during an online briefing with University of Kansas Health System officials. “I’m sure there’s going to be pockets of spread in local regions.”The state identifies coronavirus variants through genetic testing, and Norman said the state health department is now doing it for medical providers “whenever we’re asked.” Meanwhile, Kansas is still dealing with the economic effects of the pandemic, and Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday that the state will receive $200 million under the last federal coronavirus relief legislation approved in December to help people struggling to pay their rent and utility bills. The city of Wichita plans to take applications for its residents starting Feb. 22, and the state’s Housing Resources Corporation will be begin taking them from people outside Wichita on March 15.Kansas has seen the number of new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases drop in recent weeks. The state averaged 641 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, according to state Department of Health and Environment data, the lowest figure since early October. The state averaged 30 additional COVID-19 deaths a day during the same period.The state health department has reported more than 287,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases since the pandemic reached Kansas in early March 2020, or nearly one for every 10 of the state’s 2.9 million residents. The state has reported more than 4,400 deaths, or one for every 661 residents.The state health department is reporting that as of Monday, nearly 292,000 Kansas residents, or 10% of the population, have received at least the first of two required vaccine doses. Norman has said repeatedly that the number of shots given is actually higher than reported because of a lag in reporting  that the state is working to end.The state launched its second phase of vaccinations last month, and it covers people over 65, as well as teachers, workers critical to the economy and people in group living situations, including prison inmates. That’s as many as 1 million people, and Gov. Laura Kelly and the health department have repeatedly faced criticism that it’s moving too slowly.The Shawnee County Health Department in Topeka also cited the possibility of rolling electricity blackouts in canceling its clinic in an older exhibition building near the city’s largest arena and convention center, though Evergy, the electric provider for Topeka, later announced that blackouts used to limit the demand on its system had been suspended Tuesday morning.Spokesman Craig Barnes said the county health department will open its planned vaccination clinic Thursday three hours early to allow people who’d planned to get shots Tuesday to still get them.6 a.m. -- The snow, ice and bitter cold gripping Missouri has delayed people from coronavirus vaccinations, including those who signed up for mass inoculation events that had been scheduled for this week. The governor’s office said it was trying to reschedule the National Guard-run events, but that registrants should seek vaccinations elsewhere in the meantime.The cancellations followed a storm that dumped several inches of snow in much of the state and sent temperatures plunging below zero, including in Kansas City, where it was 9 degrees below zero on Tuesday, a new record for the date.“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Parson said in the news release announcing the cancellations. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”Parson said the cancellations would not affect the weekly allocation of vaccines to each region.Some of those scheduled for vaccinations at the National Guard clinics were due for their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Parson’s office said plans were being made to administer those second doses as soon as possible.The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine ideally comes four weeks after the first, but experts say it is important to get the second dose as a booster to the first, even if it is delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the second dose may be administered as late as six weeks after the first dose. The National Guard-operated sites weren’t alone in calling off vaccinations. Several Missouri hospitals and clinics also had to postpone them because of the weather, including one operated by the Truman Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia, which closed three hours early on Monday. The hospital said 200 doses had already been administered in Columbia.The weather has also affected coronavirus testing. In Columbia, MU Health Care closed an on-campus drive-thru testing site until Wednesday.The state launched a program Monday to help older Missourians get access to vaccinations. The partnership between the state health department and Missouri’s Area Agencies on Aging will help people age 60 and older with online vaccination registration, coordinate transportation to vaccination events, and provide reminder calls for second doses.Anyone interested can call their local Area Agency on Aging hotline.The state on Tuesday reported 481 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths from the disease, pushing its pandemic totals to 472,143 cases and 7,458 deaths.[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]TUESDAYNoon -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 471,662 on Tuesday, which is an increase of 481 cases.The state said there have now been 7,458 (+3) deaths since the start of the outbreak.The state said it has administered 886,800 vaccine doses, 641,376 people have received at least one dose and 245,424 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.5% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,343,306 and 69,425 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 4,183 positive cases and an average of 598 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,355 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,516 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,743 cases in Clay County, 7,123 in Cass County and 3,042 in Platte County.10 a.m. -- A second case of a more-contagious coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Kansas, state health officials said Monday.The variant virus first detected in the United Kingdom was found in the Wichita area, the state Department of Health and Environment said in a news release.The first case of the U.K. variant was found in a Fort Hays University student in Ellis County earlier this month. Officials have said it is likely more widespread  in the state. The person with the second confirmed case likely contracted it while traveling out of state, the health department said. No further details about the person were released.“This finding does not change our public health recommendations,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said in the release. “We continue to encourage people to take the appropriate precautions.”8 a.m. -- Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 28 acute COVID-19 cases, including nine that are in the ICU and three on ventilators. In addition, 42 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 70 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.6 a.m. -- Just over 10% of Missouri’s population has received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, the state health department said.Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data showed 873,675 vaccine doses were distributed, with 239,293 people receiving both doses. A vast majority of the shots have gone to older residents, with those 85 and older receiving 34.4%, followed by 22.4% for those between 75 and 84, and 24.8% for those between 65 and 74.Gov. Mike Parson’s administration on Sunday announced several more mass vaccination sites  across the state for this week but residents were urged to check to ensure the events were not postponed because of frigid weather and snow that has settled over the state.On Monday, Missouri reported 471,662 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,455 deaths since the pandemic began. That’s an increase of 1,555 confirmed cases and three deaths since Friday. [ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]MONDAY5:30 p.m. -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday that all COVID-19 mass vaccination events in partnership with the Missouri National Guard, Department of Health and Senior Services, and State Emergency Management Agency scheduled for Feb. 15-19,  are being canceled in the interest of safety due to extreme winter weather."Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments," Parson said. "We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events."4 p.m. -- Kansas health officials said a second case of the UK of COVID-19 has been found in the state. The B.1.1.7 variant was been identified in Sedgwick County, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. READ MORE3:50 p.m. -- The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said it is postponing Tuesday's COVID-19 vaccination clinic because of the extreme weather and the possibility of rolling power outages. READ MORE2:30 p.m. -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 471,662 on Monday, which is an increase of 421 cases.The state said there have now been 7,455 (+0) deaths since the start of the outbreak.The state said it has administered 873,686 vaccine doses, 634,393 people have received at least one dose and 239,293 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.3% of the population has received at least one dose.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.The state said it has tested a total of 4,338,009 and 69,546 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 4,223 positive cases and an average of 603 cases a day in the last week.Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,317 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,495 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,736 cases in Clay County, 7,105 in Cass County and 3,042 in Platte County.1:30 p.m. -- The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 1,348 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday, pushing the statewide total to 287,450 since the outbreak started.KDHE officials said Wednesday the death total grew by 42 to 4,406 and hospitalizations increased by 36 to 8,923 since the outbreak started. The state said it has tested 1,224,232 people with 936,782 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.4%. The state also said it has vaccinated 291,724 people, 394,523 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 10% of the population has been vaccinated.[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]Sedgwick County has the highest total of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak with 52,633. Johnson County is second with 52,199 cases. Wyandotte County is third with 18,720 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,601 cases, Douglas County reports 8,112 and Miami County has 2,568.Health officials they are monitoring 252 active outbreak clusters.8 a.m. -- Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 32 acute COVID-19 cases, including 10 that are in the ICU and five on ventilators. In addition, 36 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 68 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.Officials said during the morning COVID-19 panel that the overall drop in COVID-19 patients at the hospital is a good thing, however, they're watching the number of acute patients, hoping those numbers don't begin to trend upward again.  [ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ][ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ] [ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ] The Associated Press contributed to this story.
            </p><div>
                                                            <p>Kansas City metro area health officials are grappling with how to handle continuing case count increases after reopening businesses more than five months ago. 

What you need to know:

  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Monday the state has 291,715 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there have been 4,643 deaths since the outbreak started. Overall the state said 11.6% of the population has been vaccinated. Kansas is now only updating COVID-19 data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Monday there have been 475,348 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak and 7,715 deaths. Overall the state said 11.5% of the population has received at least one dose.

MONDAY
12:30 p.m. — The Kansas Departmet of Health and Environment reported an increase of 883 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday, pushing the statewide total to 291,715 since the outbreak started.

KDHE officials said Monday the death total grew by 29 to 4,643 and hospitalizations increased by 32 to 9,103 since the outbreak started.

The state said it has tested 1,243,499 people with 951,784 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.1% — the lowest it’s been in weeks.

The state also said it has vaccinated 339,190 people, 483,205 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 11.6% of the population has been vaccinated.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Johnson County is the county with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak with 53,708 cases. Sedgwick County is second with 53,235. Wyandotte County is third with 19,039 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,708 cases, Douglas County reports 8,193 and Miami County has 2,600

Health officials they are monitoring 210 active outbreak clusters.

10:30 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 475,348 on Monday, which is an increase of 351 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,715 (+0) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 1,029,785 vaccine doses, 703,014 people have received at least one dose and 326,771 people have received a second dose. Overall, the state said 11.5% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,403,835 and 50,253 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 2,843 positive cases and an average of 406 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,572 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,886 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,820 cases in Clay County, 7,170 in Cass County and 3,071 in Platte County.

10:15 a.m. — The number of new Missouri coronavirus cases continued to decline on Monday, but state officials cite one cause for concern: Wastewater samples indicate the fast-spreading U.K. variant is “widespread” across the state. READ MORE

9 a.m. — Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 36 acute COVID-19 cases, including 11 that are in the ICU and six on ventilators. In addition, 36 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 72 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

8:45 a.m.The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said the cold weather that mired much of the country for last week has impacted delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to its locations in Kansas. As of Monday, the JCDHE said it still plans to continue its vaccination plans for the week of Feb. 22, but we should learn more today about the updated plans for vaccinations this week. The extreme cold and winter weather caused 6 million vaccine doses to be delayed, but over the weekend the White House announced 2 million of those doses have been delivered and expects to have the rest delivered by the middle of this week. READ MORE

6 a.m. — With the U.S. approaching 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, President Joe Biden will mark the grim milestone Monday with a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence, the White House said Sunday.

The event, which is set for 5:15 p.m. at the White House, will also feature first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Biden will deliver remarks on the lives lost ahead of the ceremony.

The ceremony underscores the empathetic message Biden has sought to bring to the U.S. coronavirus response since taking office last month. On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was working on plans so the president could use his “own voice and platform to take a moment to remember the people whose lives have been lost, the families who are still suffering.” READ MORE


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


SUNDAY
9:30 p.m.
Nights became longer and celebrations bigger in Kansas City this weekend. Under the updated health order, bars can stay open past midnight, and size limits on events and gatherings will no longer be in place if social distancing requirements are met. READ MORE

9 p.m. — Officials of the Clay County Public Health Center have updated their emergency order. Effective immediately, Clay County restaurants, bars, and taverns may resume permitted operating hours. READ MORE

12:30 p.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 474,997 on Sunday, which is an increase of 410 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,715 (+0) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 1,024,449 vaccine doses, 700,884 people have received at least one dose and 323,565 people have received a second dose. Overall, the state said 11.4% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,395,885 and 52,539 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,147 positive cases and an average of 450 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,552 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,875 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,816 cases in Clay County, 7,165 in Cass County and 3,069 in Platte County.

8:30 a.m. — Meatpacking plants were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, yet thousands of workers at facilities in southwest Kansas are still waiting to hear when they’ll be vaccinated.

The Kansas News Service reported that the wait is frustrating for workers who have watched college faculty, first responders and postal workers get their vaccines, and Kansas has launched a program to get a first dose into the arms of every school worker by early April.

Meatpacking plants have been the state’s third-largest source of COVID-19 outbreaks, topped only by long-term care facilities and correctional centers.

“Meatpacking workers have taken one of the hardest hits of this pandemic,” said Monica Vargas-Huertas, political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 2 representing 7,000 meatpacking workers in two southwest Kansas counties.

“They kept working, securing the food (supply),” Vargas-Huertas said, “and securing the economy of the state.”

But state officials say meatpacking facilities took steps that greatly reduced transmission. They note plants have seen no new outbreaks involving five or more cases in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, Kansas simply isn’t receiving enough vaccine from the federal government to quickly vaccinate all essential workers.

Ashley Goss, deputy secretary for public health, said Gov. Laura Kelly wants to get children back to school soon because missing in-person contact with peers and educators can have long-term effects on learning and mental health.

“She’s had to make some really tough decisions,” Goss said. “And she feels very strongly for our school staff to be the next push.”

Kansas has some of the country’s most productive beef plants, driving the economies of towns such as Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal. Meatpacking workers are mainly immigrants and people of color.

Evidence suggests people of color nationwide don’t have equal access to vaccines. Kansas will soon publish coronavirus vaccination statistics that shed light on whether that holds true in Kansas, too.

Nearly 4,000 cases of COVID-19 and two dozen deaths have been linked directly to Kansas meat plants.

Phase 1 of Kansas’ vaccine rollout plan focused on health care workers and nursing homes. Meatpacking workers fall into Phase 2, along with over age 65, teachers, police and grocery clerks — about 1 million people, or a third of the state’s population.

The state largely lets each county decide how to prioritize within Phase 2. This week the governor’s office announced one exception: It will earmark doses each week for school workers.


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


SATURDAY
12:20 p.m. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 474,587 on Saturday, which is an increase of 566 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,715 (+6) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 1,006,984 vaccine doses, 693,402 people have received at least one dose and 313,582 people have received a second dose. Overall, the state said 11.3% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,384,0973 and 53,921 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,345 positive cases and an average of 478 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,524 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,845 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,807 cases in Clay County, 7,162 in Cass County and 3,068 in Platte County.


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


FRIDAY
5:45 p.m. — Douglas County’s health department new health order took effect Friday that expands the mass gathering limit, as well as hours of operation for bars and restaurants serving food and drinks indoors. The new order is in recognition of fewer COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the community.

The updated order took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The changes include:

  • Expanding the mass gathering limit from 10 people to 25 people. Mass gatherings are defined as instances in which individuals are in one location and are unable to maintain 6-foot distance between individuals – not including individuals who reside together.
  • If there is an outdoor event, the gathering is limited to 200 people and attendees must comply with social distancing rules.
  • An indoor capacity limit of 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the facility where the gathering is occurring. This applies to entertainment venues, recreational facilities, restaurants, bars and other businesses serving food and/or drink indoors. The indoor capacity limit of 100 people has been removed under the new order.
  • Starting Friday, Feb. 19, venues and establishments serving food and drink, including alcoholic beverages, must close their premises no later than midnight. This includes all outside seating areas and patios. The closure time previously was 10 p.m.
  • Carryout, curbside, drive-through or off-premise delivery of food is allowed after midnight, but not alcoholic beverages. The time previously was 10 p.m.

The public health order still requires people older than 5 to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, except when eating, drinking, swimming or if they have a medical condition that prevents it – and outdoor public spaces where unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance.

3:30 p.m.Independence Mayor Eileen Weir, in consultation with Acting Health Director Christina Heinen, issued updated health orders which will go into effect at 12 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2021.

“Thanks to the consistent actions of our businesses and citizens, we have seen a decline in regional cases and hospitalizations related to COVID-19,” Mayor Weir said. “It is important to note we are not yet out of the woods and must continue to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and stay home if we are sick. We are today taking steps to relax capacity limitations on religious gatherings, weddings, funerals and dining. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as needed.”

Updated guidelines from the City of Independence:

  • Indoor and outdoor dining is limited to 50% capacity, however there is no limit on the size of parties of patrons.
  • Bars, restaurants and taverns may now remain open as permitted by their liquor license.
  • All gathering limits on faith services have been relaxed. Faith organizations are no longer required to submit a gathering protocol form but are asked to continue voluntarily wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and regularly washing their hands and shared surfaces.
  • Entertainment and recreational venues are no longer required to submit gathering protocol forms but must maintain the 50 percent capacity at their given venue. These venues can submit gathering protocol forms for proposed events with capacity greater than 50% for review.

You can read the full orders here.

3 p.m. Gov. Laura Kelly has announced plans to fix issues that have led Kansas to underreport the number of people vaccinated for COVID-19.

Kelly has said the state’s vaccination rate consistently ranks among the lowest in the country because of technical problems with the tracking system.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows Kansas has administered 72% of the 581,975 doses it has received, up from 60.2% a week ago.

Kelly says the state is addressing underlying data transfer problems and, starting Monday, providers will be required to report data daily on doses received and administered. Providers with identified reporting issues will face additional requirements.

2:25 p.m. Special Olympics Kansas announced Friday that the 2021 summer games have been canceled because of the pandemic. The games were scheduled for June 4-6 in Wichita. READ MORE

2 p.m. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said the cold weather that has mired much of the country for the past week has impacted delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to its locations in Kansas. As of Friday, the JCDHE said it still plans to continue its vaccination plans for the week of Feb. 22, but the details are subject to change. READ MORE

1:15 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 2,115 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Wednesday, pushing the statewide total to 290,832 since the outbreak started.

KDHE officials said Friday the death total grew by 93 to 4,614 and hospitalizations increased by 69 to 9,071 since the outbreak started.

The state said it has tested 1,238,423 people with 947,591 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.1% — the lowest it’s been in weeks.

The state also said it has vaccinated 324,635 people, 456,093 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 11.1% of the population has been vaccinated.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Johnson County passed Sedgwick County to become the county with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak with 53,652 cases. Sedgwick County is second with 53,047. Wyandotte County is third with 18,935 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,680 cases, Douglas County reports 8,171 and Miami County has 2,592.

Health officials they are monitoring 210 active outbreak clusters.

12:15 p.m.Mayor Quinton Lucas said Friday Kansas City, Missouri, will allow bars and restaurants to resume normal permitted hours and size limits on events and gatherings will no longer be in place, if social distancing requirements are met.

In a news conference, Lucas stressed the mask mandate is still in place throughout the city – both indoors and outdoors unless you are actively eating or drinking and unable to keep socially distant. But he also said relaxing a part of the emergency order for bars, restaurants, events and gatherings is the right thing to do with case counts and positivity rates decreasing to levels that were consistent with early October. READ MORE

11:30 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 474,021 on Friday, which is an increase of 562 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,709 (+14) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 966,807 vaccine doses, 680,951 people have received at least one dose and 285,856 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 11.1% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,373,021 and 56,180 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,529 positive cases and an average of 504 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,486 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,783 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,775 cases in Clay County, 7,157 in Cass County and 3,062 in Platte County.

8 a.m. — Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 38 acute COVID-19 cases, including 10 that are in the ICU and four on ventilators. In addition, 34 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 72 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

6 a.m. — The economy is slowly improving in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but employment remains below the level it was at before the coronavirus pandemic began last year, according to a new monthly survey of bankers released Thursday.

The overall index for the region increased to 53.8 in February from January’s 52. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said the number of jobs in the region is down roughly 146,000, or 3.3%, from the level it was at before the pandemic began. The survey’s hiring index hit 51.9 in February, up from January’s weak 46, to suggest businesses are now hiring, but Goss said it will take several month’s of steady growth to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

The bankers surveyed are optimistic about the economy as grain prices and exports continue to increase. The survey’s confidence index increased to 64 in February from January’s 60. Goss said the Federal Reserve’s current record low short-term interest rates are also helping the economy.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


THURSDAY
10:05 p.m. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will announce updated COVID-19 guidelines on Friday. Details will be announced at a noon news conference. READ MORE

6:25 p.m. Clay County health officials said that due to inclement weather across the nation, its vaccine shipment has been delayed. The Operation Safe Vaccine Clinics planned for Friday and Saturday are postponed. Health officials said they will contact residents to reschedule appointments when vaccine delivery is confirmed.

3:15 p.m.Due to severe weather conditions across the country, the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Centers, said it is currently experiencing challenges with receiving vaccine deliveries. The VA said it may impact vaccination appointments that are scheduled over the next few days.

“If you are experiencing a delay or schedule change for your vaccination appointment or any other procedure, please know that we will continue to work to reschedule appointments,” the VA said. “As always, our priority remains the safety of Veterans and our staff. Please do not attempt to go to a facility if doing so would be unsafe. For those scheduled, please know our teams will be reaching out to reschedule as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience.”

2:15 p.m. — College students who lost class time or were forced into online classes because of the pandemic could have some of their tuition refunded under a measure Kansas lawmakers are debating.

A House panel amended the state’s higher education budget Wednesday to require that colleges, community colleges and technical schools reimburse students for 50% of the tuition paid every day they spent online instead of in the classroom. The amendment would reimburse at 100% for days that students missed class entirely. READ MORE

12:45 p.m. — According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity is at its lowest in the last decade. The CDC said it is possible COVID-19 mitigation efforts have kept the virus at bay this season. READ MORE

11:30 a.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 473,459 on Thursday, which is an increase of 718 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,695 (+225) deaths since the start of the outbreak. The MDHSS said 218 of the new deaths reported were attributed to further analysis of death certificates, including two deaths dating back to July and August of 2020.

The state said it has administered 939,810 vaccine doses, 666,430 people have received at least one dose and 273,380 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.9% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,359,840 and 59,265 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 3,734 positive cases and an average of 533 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,436 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,741 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,766 cases in Clay County, 7,144 in Cass County and 3,055 in Platte County.

10:15 a.m.Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a bill to make a temporary rule allowing curbside cocktails during the coronavirus pandemic permanent. The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control temporarily relaxed liquor rules so restaurants could sell to-go mixed drinks when the virus first hit the state last year, but the waiver is set to expire at the end of March. READ MORE

8 a.m. — Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 33 acute COVID-19 cases, including eight that are in the ICU and two on ventilators. In addition, 36 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 69 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

6 a.m. Detainees have complained for decades about conditions inside St. Louis’ jails, but when COVID-19 worries were added to the mix, the tension reached breaking point.

In the predawn hours of Feb. 6, 117 inmates at the downtown City Justice Center broke free from their cells. They smashed windows, set fires and tossed chairs, a filing cabinet and other items through the broken glass onto the street four stories below. A corrections officer was briefly hospitalized.

“These were just very angry, defiant, very violent people that we house at the justice center,” Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said at a news conference that day.

It was the third uprising at the downtown jail since December. Advocates say concerns about COVID-19 are at the heart of the anger.

“They were fed up and scared for their lives,” said Tracy Stanton of EXPO, a nonprofit advocacy group made up of former detainees. “This last resistance happened because they still were not being heard. At this point, the pot had boiled over.”

Edwards said there are “zero” virus cases at the jail. Yet so far in 2021, more than 100 inmates or people speaking for them have called a hotline to report positive tests or coronavirus symptoms, said Inez Bordeaux of ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit law firm that operates the hotline.

Litel Joyner, 60, said his son, Litel Gilmore, 41, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 30 while housed at the justice center.

“He’s really not doing well,” Joyner said. “I think the COVID has kind of taken control of him.”

Edwards’ spokesman said he would not comment further.

Inmates complain about a lack of COVID-19 precautions. City officials declined interview requests but cited protocols that include 14-day quarantine periods for each new detainee, masks replaced upon request and testing anytime a detainee or a nurse detects symptoms.

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, a longtime activist in St. Louis, sent a letter last week to city leaders calling for more transparency about jail conditions and COVID-19 protocols.

“Every person in our society deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Bush, a Democrat, wrote.

Mayor Lyda Krewson appointed a task force that plans public meetings as part of its examination of conditions at both St. Louis jails. The task force includes the head of the local NAACP, two aldermen and others, and is led by the Rev. Darryl Gray, a longtime activist leader.

The virus is creating anger inside the jail in another way. Jury trials were shut down early in the pandemic because of social distancing restrictions. Many detainees awaiting trial have been jailed for more than a year with no trial date in sight, said Matthew Mahaffey, who heads the public defender office in St. Louis.

The City Justice Center is the largest of two correctional facilities in St. Louis, opening in 2002. Though relatively modern, one major design flaw has become obvious — some cell locks don’t work.

“Unfortunately, inside of our system in certain units, our detainees have the ability to jimmy their locks,” Edwards said. “And the locks don’t necessarily lock. Even though our automated panel system would indicate the cells are locked, they are in fact not locked.”

The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted Wednesday to spend $1.5 million to fix the faulty lock system. The board decided to use money budgeted for employee salaries at the facility that won’t be needed because of vacancies, said director Paul Payne.

Mayor Lyda Krewson’s spokesman, Jacob Long, said the work is projected to take 10 to 12 weeks. Officials said more money may be needed to cover the overall cost.

In the interim, about half the detainees involved in the uprising have been moved to another floor where the locks work, city spokesman Jacob Long said. The other half were moved to a medium-security jail known as the workhouse.

The workhouse has, for decades, been the subject of criticism. A 2017 lawsuit filed by ArchCity Defenders cited rodent infestations, overflowing toilets, extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter.

It remains open despite a pledge from the Board of Aldermen last year to close it. City leaders now say closure would lead to overcrowding at the justice center.

Stanton, now a college student, recalled being jailed at the workhouse in 2016 when she was addicted to drugs. She was inside when another female inmate hung herself, and two others suffered serious wounds from spider bites, she said.

Stanton’s brother, Roland Pullum, was jailed on a trespassing charge at the workhouse in 2013. She said he had been stabbed in the head prior to incarceration, and that he died while he was in jail.

“He went from the hospital to the jail,” Stanton said. “He wanted some medical help, something wasn’t right.”

She said guards think detainees who ask for help just want attention or to be let out of their cells.

Bordeaux said detainee treatment isn’t just a St. Louis problem — activists in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Atlanta and elsewhere are fighting similar battles.

“Once people walk inside of a jail, we, as a society, immediately tend to strip them of their humanity,” Bordeaux said. “When it comes to the list of priorities that many cities have, taking care of people accused of crime is very far down on the list.”


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


WEDNESDAY
9:30 p.m. Kansas will put a priority on vaccinating teachers and other school staff against COVID-19 so that K-12 students across the state can resume in-person classes as quickly as possible, Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday.

The Democratic governor’s announcement came a week after she told leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature that 60% of the state’s 286 school districts had started inoculating teachers. The state’s public schools have about 72,000 staff members, including 34,000 certified teachers. READ MORE

4:45 p.m.Public health leaders in Lawrence and Douglas County have updated the local health order to expand the mass gathering limit and to expand hours of operation for venues and establishments serving food and drinks indoors. READ MORE

2:30 p.m. — The city of Merriam says it will be able to open its indoor pool on March 1 after new guidance from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. READ MORE

2 p.m. Rural Missouri counties are both the most and least successful at getting COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of residents, according to data from the state’s coronavirus dashboard on Wednesday.

Shelby County, with just 6,400 residents in a remote area of northeast Missouri, has provided at least one dose of the vaccine to 20.7% of residents. Atchison County, with just under 6,000 residents in Missouri’s far northwestern corner, has vaccinated 20.2% of residents, followed by Worth County at 18.2%.

Among the top 15 counties for vaccinations, just one — Cape Girardeau County — has more than 50,000 residents. Cape Girardeau County is tied for fourth with Gasconade County, where 17% of residents have received a dose.

Pulaski County, which is home to Fort Leonard Wood and has 52,000 residents, has the lowest vaccination rate at just 4.2%, followed by other outstate counties — Newton at 4.4%, McDonald at 4.7%, Crawford at 5.2% and Pemiscot at 5.5%.

Overall, 10.6% of Missourians have received at least one dose, and data shows the two urban areas lag behind.

Some St. Louis-area leaders have raised concerns that the region is not getting its fair share of vaccine, prompting an angry rebuke from Gov. Mike Parson. The Republican governor last week accused the region’s leaders — particularly Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force — of using “cherry-picked” data.

The information on the state dashboard shows that just 7.8% of Jackson County residents have received a shot. In the St. Louis region, vaccination rates were 9.3% in the city, 7.2% in St. Louis County, 8.2% in St. Charles County and just 6.1% in Jefferson County.

The number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to decline. The state on Wednesday reported 598 new cases and 12 new deaths. The state has reported 472,741 confirmed cases and 7,470 deaths since the pandemic began.

With hospitalizations also on the decline, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced that the county is easing restrictions on youth and adult sports.

Effective Wednesday, the county will allow competitive games and tournaments for all sports as long as only two teams are present on the field or court at the same time. Limits continue on the number of spectators.

Restrictions had been in place since September, drawing protests from parents and athletes.

1:15 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 1,267 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Monday, pushing the statewide total to 288,717 since the outbreak started.

KDHE officials said Wednesday the death total grew by 115 to 4,521 and hospitalizations increased by 79 to 9,002 since the outbreak started.

The state said it has tested 1,229,298 people with 940,581 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.3%. The state also said it has vaccinated 303,677 people, 418,653 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 10.4% of the population has been vaccinated.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Sedgwick County has the highest total of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak with 52,832. Johnson County is second with 52,582 cases. Wyandotte County is third with 18,792 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,632 cases, Douglas County reports 8,137 and Miami County has 2,581.

Health officials they are monitoring 210 active outbreak clusters.

1 p.m. — The Unified Government Public Health Department said Wednesday that people who live in Wyandotte County and are over 65 years old are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. The UGPHD said it’s now scheduling vaccinations for those at highest risk, and highest priority will be given for seniors who live in zip codes 66101, 66102 and 66105. READ MORE

Noon — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 472,741 on Wednesday, which is an increase of 1,079 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,470 (+12) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 910,3380 vaccine doses, 650,449 people have received at least one dose and 259,889 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.6% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,350,392 and 70,446 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 4,227 positive cases and an average of 604 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,393 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,614 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,749 cases in Clay County, 7,130 in Cass County and 3,050 in Platte County.

9:15 a.m.“Our state’s teachers and support staff have faithfully risked their lives this year,” a letter says from Missouri’s 2017-2021 Teachers of the Year. It is addressed to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams and it presses him to let teachers and support staff get their coronavirus vaccinations immediately.” READ MORE

8 a.m. — Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 31 acute COVID-19 cases, including eight that are in the ICU and two on ventilators. In addition, 39 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 70 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

7 a.m. — Kansas is likely to have pockets of a new, more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and public health officials believe it could become the state’s dominant strain, the head of the state health department said Tuesday.

Dr. Lee Norman also said that winter weather across the central and eastern U.S. has created a “brief speed bump” in the second phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Norman said the shipment of some vaccine doses from the federal government have been delayed a few days, and below-zero temperatures prompted the Shawnee County health department in northeast Kansas to cancel a vaccination clinic.

The first recorded Kansas case of the United Kingdom coronavirus variant was in Ellis County earlier this month, infecting a student-athlete at Fort Hays State University “who never was particularly very ill,” Norman said. The state health department said Monday that a second case had been identified in Sedgwick County, home to Wichita, and Norman said the person infected was a “young man” who had traveled out of state.

Public health officials said the emergence of the coronavirus variant in a majority of states means that people can’t let their guard down about wearing masks, social distancing and taking other precautions. Norman said the case in Ellis County in northwest Kansas and in Sedgwick County in south-central Kansas are not connected.

“We are getting the feeling that it will become a dominant strain because it is more infectious,” Norman said during an online briefing with University of Kansas Health System officials. “I’m sure there’s going to be pockets of spread in local regions.”

The state identifies coronavirus variants through genetic testing, and Norman said the state health department is now doing it for medical providers “whenever we’re asked.”

Meanwhile, Kansas is still dealing with the economic effects of the pandemic, and Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday that the state will receive $200 million under the last federal coronavirus relief legislation approved in December to help people struggling to pay their rent and utility bills. The city of Wichita plans to take applications for its residents starting Feb. 22, and the state’s Housing Resources Corporation will be begin taking them from people outside Wichita on March 15.

Kansas has seen the number of new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases drop in recent weeks. The state averaged 641 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, according to state Department of Health and Environment data, the lowest figure since early October. The state averaged 30 additional COVID-19 deaths a day during the same period.

The state health department has reported more than 287,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases since the pandemic reached Kansas in early March 2020, or nearly one for every 10 of the state’s 2.9 million residents. The state has reported more than 4,400 deaths, or one for every 661 residents.

The state health department is reporting that as of Monday, nearly 292,000 Kansas residents, or 10% of the population, have received at least the first of two required vaccine doses. Norman has said repeatedly that the number of shots given is actually higher than reported because of a lag in reporting that the state is working to end.

The state launched its second phase of vaccinations last month, and it covers people over 65, as well as teachers, workers critical to the economy and people in group living situations, including prison inmates. That’s as many as 1 million people, and Gov. Laura Kelly and the health department have repeatedly faced criticism that it’s moving too slowly.

The Shawnee County Health Department in Topeka also cited the possibility of rolling electricity blackouts in canceling its clinic in an older exhibition building near the city’s largest arena and convention center, though Evergy, the electric provider for Topeka, later announced that blackouts used to limit the demand on its system had been suspended Tuesday morning.

Spokesman Craig Barnes said the county health department will open its planned vaccination clinic Thursday three hours early to allow people who’d planned to get shots Tuesday to still get them.

6 a.m. — The snow, ice and bitter cold gripping Missouri has delayed people from coronavirus vaccinations, including those who signed up for mass inoculation events that had been scheduled for this week.

The governor’s office said it was trying to reschedule the National Guard-run events, but that registrants should seek vaccinations elsewhere in the meantime.

The cancellations followed a storm that dumped several inches of snow in much of the state and sent temperatures plunging below zero, including in Kansas City, where it was 9 degrees below zero on Tuesday, a new record for the date.

“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Parson said in the news release announcing the cancellations. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”

Parson said the cancellations would not affect the weekly allocation of vaccines to each region.

Some of those scheduled for vaccinations at the National Guard clinics were due for their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Parson’s office said plans were being made to administer those second doses as soon as possible.

The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine ideally comes four weeks after the first, but experts say it is important to get the second dose as a booster to the first, even if it is delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the second dose may be administered as late as six weeks after the first dose.

The National Guard-operated sites weren’t alone in calling off vaccinations. Several Missouri hospitals and clinics also had to postpone them because of the weather, including one operated by the Truman Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia, which closed three hours early on Monday. The hospital said 200 doses had already been administered in Columbia.

The weather has also affected coronavirus testing. In Columbia, MU Health Care closed an on-campus drive-thru testing site until Wednesday.

The state launched a program Monday to help older Missourians get access to vaccinations. The partnership between the state health department and Missouri’s Area Agencies on Aging will help people age 60 and older with online vaccination registration, coordinate transportation to vaccination events, and provide reminder calls for second doses.

Anyone interested can call their local Area Agency on Aging hotline.

The state on Tuesday reported 481 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths from the disease, pushing its pandemic totals to 472,143 cases and 7,458 deaths.


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


TUESDAY
Noon — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 471,662 on Tuesday, which is an increase of 481 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,458 (+3) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 886,800 vaccine doses, 641,376 people have received at least one dose and 245,424 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.5% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,343,306 and 69,425 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 4,183 positive cases and an average of 598 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,355 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,516 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,743 cases in Clay County, 7,123 in Cass County and 3,042 in Platte County.

10 a.m. — A second case of a more-contagious coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Kansas, state health officials said Monday.

The variant virus first detected in the United Kingdom was found in the Wichita area, the state Department of Health and Environment said in a news release.

The first case of the U.K. variant was found in a Fort Hays University student in Ellis County earlier this month. Officials have said it is likely more widespread in the state.

The person with the second confirmed case likely contracted it while traveling out of state, the health department said. No further details about the person were released.

“This finding does not change our public health recommendations,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said in the release. “We continue to encourage people to take the appropriate precautions.”

8 a.m. — Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 28 acute COVID-19 cases, including nine that are in the ICU and three on ventilators. In addition, 42 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 70 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

6 a.m.Just over 10% of Missouri’s population has received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, the state health department said.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data showed 873,675 vaccine doses were distributed, with 239,293 people receiving both doses. A vast majority of the shots have gone to older residents, with those 85 and older receiving 34.4%, followed by 22.4% for those between 75 and 84, and 24.8% for those between 65 and 74.

Gov. Mike Parson’s administration on Sunday announced several more mass vaccination sites across the state for this week but residents were urged to check to ensure the events were not postponed because of frigid weather and snow that has settled over the state.

On Monday, Missouri reported 471,662 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,455 deaths since the pandemic began. That’s an increase of 1,555 confirmed cases and three deaths since Friday.


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


MONDAY
5:30 p.m. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday that all COVID-19 mass vaccination events in partnership with the Missouri National Guard, Department of Health and Senior Services, and State Emergency Management Agency scheduled for Feb. 15-19, are being canceled in the interest of safety due to extreme winter weather.

“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Parson said. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”

4 p.m. Kansas health officials said a second case of the UK of COVID-19 has been found in the state. The B.1.1.7 variant was been identified in Sedgwick County, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. READ MORE

3:50 p.m. — The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said it is postponing Tuesday’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic because of the extreme weather and the possibility of rolling power outages. READ MORE

2:30 p.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the state’s total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 471,662 on Monday, which is an increase of 421 cases.

The state said there have now been 7,455 (+0) deaths since the start of the outbreak.

The state said it has administered 873,686 vaccine doses, 634,393 people have received at least one dose and 239,293 people have received a second dose. Overall the state said 10.3% of the population has received at least one dose.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD]

Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

The state said it has tested a total of 4,338,009 and 69,546 were tested in the past seven days. There have been 4,223 positive cases and an average of 603 cases a day in the last week.

Looking at local numbers, the DHSS reported 36,317 confirmed cases in Kansas City, Missouri, and 29,495 cases in Jackson County. The state also lists 7,736 cases in Clay County, 7,105 in Cass County and 3,042 in Platte County.

1:30 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 1,348 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday, pushing the statewide total to 287,450 since the outbreak started.

KDHE officials said Wednesday the death total grew by 42 to 4,406 and hospitalizations increased by 36 to 8,923 since the outbreak started.

The state said it has tested 1,224,232 people with 936,782 negative test results and an overall monthly positive test rate of 5.4%. The state also said it has vaccinated 291,724 people, 394,523 total doses of the vaccine have been administered and 10% of the population has been vaccinated.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Sedgwick County has the highest total of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak with 52,633. Johnson County is second with 52,199 cases. Wyandotte County is third with 18,720 cases. Leavenworth County has 6,601 cases, Douglas County reports 8,112 and Miami County has 2,568.

Health officials they are monitoring 252 active outbreak clusters.

8 a.m. — Officials with the University of Kansas Health System said the hospital has 32 acute COVID-19 cases, including 10 that are in the ICU and five on ventilators. In addition, 36 other patients are in recovery, for a total of 68 COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Officials said during the morning COVID-19 panel that the overall drop in COVID-19 patients at the hospital is a good thing, however, they’re watching the number of acute patients, hoping those numbers don’t begin to trend upward again.


[ COVID-19 IN KC: TRACKING CASES, DEATHS AND LATEST RESTRICTIONS ]
[ FAQ ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IN KANSAS, MISSOURI ]

[ FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE VACCINE ]


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

                                </div>

Your feedback is highly appreciated. Thank you.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.