KC metro health leaders: Shutdowns 'inevitable' if area does not act quickly

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Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 18:01:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to spike, health leaders of the “Core 4” municipalities in the Kansas City metro issued a strong warning on Friday, saying that future shutdowns may be necessary if certain precautions are not taken.

According to health officials, the Kansas City metro has recently seen a “dramatic increase” in new cases and a surge in the number of hospitalizations related to the virus, with recent data indicating the area is “again losing the battle with COVID-19.”

"We are extremely concerned that hospitalizations will continue to escalate in the coming weeks and months, and that the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 will lead to increasing ventilator use and deaths,” according to a letter from health officials representing Kansas City, Missouri, and Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

The number of hospitalizations in the metro is now at an all-time high, even when compared with March and April, and it has become more difficult to track the rate of hospitalizations because of a new federal hospital reporting system that went live this week, according to health officials.

“If we do not act quickly as a community and region, future shutdowns will be inevitable,” the health officials wrote in the letter. “It may be important in the coming days to limit the interactions of individuals in bars, restaurants, and other indoor shopping venues — particularly where masks cannot be worn when eating and drinking.”

Restaurants and retail businesses should continue providing curbside or outdoor services, looking to parking lots and sidewalks when possible, according to the health leaders.

“The efforts we make in mask-wearing, social distancing, and restricting our overall interactions with others now, especially when indoors, may help us avoid further shutdowns,” the letter said. “We must all do what we can in the hope that tighter restrictions will not be necessary.”

The letter, released Friday, was signed by Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer; Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola; Wyandotte County Public Health Department Deputy Health Officer Dr. Erin Corriveau; Wyandotte County Public Health Department Health Officer Dr. Allen Greiner; Johnson County Public Health Department Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster; Jackson County Health Director Bridgette Shaffer; and Wyandotte County Public Health Department Director Juliann VanLiew.

Read the full letter below: