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.
KU chancellor joins doctors for daily briefing
The University of Kansas Health System reported slightly fewer COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Wednesday. According to doctors, 91 patients have active cases and 46 are in the recovery phase.
Earlier in the week, the health system reported an all-time high 100 active COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
The health system also reported three additional virus-related deaths overnight.
During Wednesday’s briefing, University of Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod joined the doctors to speak about bringing college students back to campus after the holidays.
Classes ended on Tuesday, and students were headed home until after the New Year, Girod said.
The university offered testing before students left campus and recommended that students isolate when they return home, use masks and maintain their distance.
Mass entry testing will be done when KU students return for the spring semester.
Masks will be required in some parts of Leavenworth County
The city of Lansing will require masks in public spaces after the City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday. The mask ordinance begins Friday and will remain in effect through Jan. 31, 2021.
Last week, the city of Leavenworth also chose to adopt a mask ordinance, meaning the two largest cities in Leavenworth County will require masks to be worn.
But Leavenworth County will not implement a county-wide mandate. On Wednesday morning, the Board of County Commissioners voted to opt out of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order requiring the use of face coverings.
Missouri adds 130-plus to death toll
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Tuesday added more than 130 people to its COVID-19 death toll. According to a report, the state reviewed earlier deaths from September, October and November, leading to the sharp daily increase.
In the state, 3,932 people have now died from COVID-19.
Another KCMO restaurant closes its doors
The award-winning Bluestem restaurant in Westport will close next month. The owners, Colby and Megan Garrelts, said that although they have considered closing for about a year, the challenges of the pandemic confirmed their decision.
"It hurts our hearts to make this decision, but, you know, at the end of the day, you have to make good decisions in business, especially the restaurant business," Colby Garrelts said.
The Garrelts plan to focus more on their Rye restaurants in Leawood and on the Country Club Plaza and potential new projects.
Kansas high school sports to start on time
The Kansas State High School Activities Association on Tuesday voted to allow winter sports to begin on time, though board members did extend the holiday break. No contact will be allowed from Dec. 23 through Jan. 7. Competitions will resume on Jan. 8.
The board also voted to ban fans from middle or high school competitions through Jan. 28.
Library system extends Thanksgiving closure
The Mid-Continent Public Library, which has struggled with staffing levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will close for an extended break over Thanksgiving. The library said the closure will help mitigate employee exposure to the virus.
All branches will be closed from 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 29. Branches that are currently open will resume normal hours on Monday.
Mental health experts offer tips for holidays
With this Thanksgiving set to be one unlike any other, mental health experts in the Kansas City area say it’s OK to have strong emotions about missing time with family and friends.
One Saint Luke’s Health System psychologist recommended utilizing apps in the absence of physically spending time with family and taking time to acknowledge any sad feelings.
A child psychiatrist at Children’s Mercy also said parents can use this time as a teaching lesson, showing children how to build resilience in the face of disappointment.
KC food pantries feel need
Food pantries in the Kansas City metro are seeing an increased need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will employers be able to mandate vaccines?
With several promising COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, employment experts in the Kansas City metro say it’s likely employers will be able to require their workers to receive one.
Some exemptions, including for religious beliefs and underlying disabilities, would remain in effect, these experts say.
Some experts still see significant obstacles to the vaccine, including access and distribution.
41 Action News Town Hall
41 Action News hosted a town hall on Tuesday with experts in the Kansas City area to discuss holidays, schools and a possible COVID-19 vaccine.
Watch the full town hall below: