Doctors discuss ways to safely reopen Kansas, Missouri

Another surge possible if people aren't cautious
Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 20:08:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — As discussions begin about reopening the country, doctors with the University of Kansas Health System are making suggestions on how to stay safe.

Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer of the health system, said it's important that people continue to follow infection control measures, including social distancing and proper hand washing.

"If we reopen and people don't follow that, they act just as they did two months ago, then we will still see a surge," Stites said.

With unemployment claims skyrocketing over the past month, people have started to protest stay-at-home orders. In light of Kansas and Missouri extending stay-at-home orders until May, protests are now planned in both states.

Stites agrees people need to get back to work but cautions that one large gathering could cause a surge.

"It's a really bad idea," Stites said. "If you take a virus that's highly contagious and respirable, and you want to open up society, is there a worse way to make your point than to make everybody sick? The way to open up society is not to make everybody sick. The way to open up society is to exercises personal responsibility to be certain that you protect yourself, protect your family, protect everybody else. Otherwise, what happens is, we'll be right back to a shelter-in-place because we'll be having overwhelmed resources and it'll be just like New York City. That is not where you want to be."

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said there are measures that need to be in place before Kansas can safely reopen.

"Making sure that we have the capacity by way of testing, treatment and bed space, caregivers and PPE," Norman said.

There also needs to be more widespread testing, according to Norman, so medical experts can better understand how the disease impacts people.