RAYTOWN, Mo. — The assistant director of the Jackson County, Missouri, Health Department watches the COVID-19 trends to understand how the virus is spreading over time.
Right now, Ray Dlugolecki is “mildly concerned.”
41 Action News analyzed data that shows Missouri passed 200,000 total COVID-19 infections Wednesday. The state has set records for the highest number of new infections in one day four times in the past week.
“All of these indicators we’re looking at are pointing in a direction where we don’t want to be heading, to be frank,” Dlugolecki admitted.
He and other health leaders fear if cases continue to rise, contact tracers won’t be able to keep up, resulting in people spreading the virus without knowing they’re infected and then hospitals could be filled to capacity.
Dlugolecki points to cities like El Paso, Texas, which are seeing cases soar.
“We do not want to go there,” Dlugolecki said. “We do not want to continue to stifle economic opportunity, we do not want to risk pain and suffering and lives. We can do simple things to prevent that.”
The Jackson County Health Department is preaching the motto, “Hands, Face, Space.” It’s meant to remind people to wash their hands often, cover their faces with a mask and keep space between people.
Dlugolecki said those simple items make a big difference.
Voters in Missouri elected Mike Parson as governor. He has been serving in that role since being promoted from lieutenant governor in 2018. Dlugolecki does not expect the state’s approach to the novel coronavirus to change much with Parson as governor.
He said the state often sends counties COVID-19 tests and gives them the flexibility to implement mask mandates, even when the state as a whole does not have a mandate. But Dlugolecki said a nationwide plan would be the best approach.
“Any public health professional would be crazy to say they would not welcome a more comprehensive strategy we could all take part, across the nation, this is bigger than one particular state. We need a really comprehensive strategy to move forward as a nation,” Dlugolecki explained.
In Wyandotte County, Kansas, the health department unveiled a new tool called “scorecard” Wednesday. It highlights critical data points in easy to understand gauges and lists the county’s impact and risk level.
Right now, that level is medium-high. The scorecard is available on the county’s online dashboard.
Several organizations are providing free COVID tests Thursday. Most testing sites require you to register in advance.
- Overland Park, Kansas: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at New Haven Seventh Day Adventist Church
- Kansas City, Missouri: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Super Flea and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
- Independence, Missouri: 2 to 7 p.m. at Sante Fe Park
- Raytown, Missouri: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Connection Point Church
- Lee’s Summit, Missouri: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 616 NE Douglas Street
- Kansas City, Kansas: 4 to 6 p.m. at Vibrant Health Argentine