Kansas City COVID-19 Daily Briefing for Dec. 18

Posted at 9:32 AM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 10:32:07-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 41 Action News is offering a daily recap of COVID-19 related stories from across Kansas City and the country. Check back every morning for the latest developments.

LATEST: COVID-19 case tracker for Missouri, Kansas and Kansas City

University of Kansas Health System update

University of Kansas Health System officials reported 78 patients with active COVID-19 infections on Friday, including 35 in the ICU and 26 on ventilators. Another 71 patients in the hospital are in recovery phases, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson.

"We have trended down, but we need to trend down further, so keep doing the masking, distancing, not meeting in groups — especially as we're getting into the weekend now and Christmas week," Hawkinson said.

The hospital also reported an additional two COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours. Overall, the health system has seen more deaths related to the virus through the first half of December than in all of November.

On Friday, doctors answered a number of questions related to the virus and to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Kansas, Missouri to receive fewer vaccine doses

Both Kansas and Missouri will receive fewer doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in their next shipments than originally expected.

Kansas will receive 17,550 vaccines next week instead of 29,000, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday.

In Missouri, Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said the state’s shipment next week could be cut by 25% to 35%.

On Thursday, Pfizer said it has millions of doses sitting in its warehouse but has not received shipment instructions for additional doses.

Saint Luke’s expects to vaccinate 1,000 by Friday

Saint Luke’s Health System hopes to have 1,000 of its frontline health care workers vaccinated by the end of today. The first frontline workers began to receive the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday.

VP Pence, second lady receive vaccine

Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence received an initial dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday in a live, on-camera event at the White House. "I didn't feel a thing. Well done," Pence said after the shot.

Pence said he decided to take the vaccine in a public event to improve public confidence.

Doctors urge caution as cases ebb in KC area

Based on the daily trends of the last seven days, the Kansas City metro will see fewer COVID-19 cases this week than any other week since late October and early November.

Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer said recommendations and protocols the city implemented appear to be working, including the decision to close bars and restaurants at 10 p.m.

Still, health experts continue to stress vigilance ahead of the holidays, including social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing.

MO has 21,000 appeal requests for unemployment

The Missouri Department of Labor currently has around 21,000 appeal requests for unemployment, a number it says is “unprecedented." This is causing delays for Missourians in scheduling hearings with the department to see if they qualify for unemployment assistance.

KC Symphony to return in January

The Kansas City Symphony will return to the stage on Jan. 17 for the first time in nearly 10 months. Attendance will be capped at 20%, meaning 360 people will be allowed at performances. Masks will be required.

In March, the symphony began canceling or postponing performances due to the pandemic.

Johnson County Library helping residents find resources

The Johnson County Library used CARES Act funding to launch its Digital Navigators Project, which aims to guide residents to useful resources during and after the pandemic.

During business hours, one librarian is dedicated to answering phone calls, emails and in-person inquiries to the Digital Navigators Project. Librarians can help callers find information about food distribution, COVID-19 testing and employment opportunities.

Kansas marriage license applications move online

Beginning today, couples who need to apply for a marriage license in Kansas can complete the application online. Applicants must have an email address to apply.

“The pandemic challenged our courts to reimagine how we serve the people of Kansas and moving the marriage license application online is one example,” Chief Justice Marla Luckert said in a news release. “This change makes applying for a license faster and easier, and it gives Kansans the type of online service they expect.”

The project was funded by a grant approved by the State Finance Council from federal coronavirus relief funds.

KCI releases November traveler numbers

The Kansas City International Airport saw a nearly 63% drop in passenger traffic in November compared with the year before, even with a bump in travel over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Johnson County asks providers to return survey

In order to gauge interest in a COVID-19 vaccine among health care workers, Johnson County has asked providers to return a survey indicating how many of their staff would like to receive the shot. Health care providers will be placed on a list and notified if the vaccine becomes available to them.

Tonight’s Mizzou basketball game canceled

The University of Missouri men’s basketball team will not take on Prairie View A&M on Friday. The team cited COVID-19 issues within the Panthers’ program as the reason for the cancellation, though no other details were released.

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