KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Wednesday his appointments to Kansas City's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.
Those on the Task Force include:
Renita Mollman, Chair - Burns & McDonnell, Chief Administration Officer
Dr. Rex Archer - Kansas City Health Department, Director of Public Health
Dr. Valerie Chow - Truman Medical Centers, Retired Anesthesiologist
Kathryn Knotts - Truman Medical Centers, Director of Government Relations
Dr. Olevia M. Pitts - Research Medical Center, Chief Medical Officer
Jeron Ravin - Swope Health Services, President and Chief Executive Officer
Diane Trimble - St. Luke's Hospital System, Chief Nursing Officer
Lucas says the goal of the task force is to make it easier for all Kansas Citians, particularly those without regular internet access or primary care providers, to determine where and how to get vaccinated.
"Tens of thousands of people can't sit on the phone all day and call 18 different places to put themselves on a list not knowing what the answer will be. In essence I think we've failed people so far in our messaging on that. This is us correcting it," Lucas said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The task force will develop a plan to quickly and equitably vaccinate people, with a "particular emphasis on communities and zip codes that have been most devastated by the pandemic."
Lucas pointed to the fact that 145 Hispanic or Latinx Kansas Citians per 100,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19, while 50 white Kansas Citians per 100,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19.
Outreach efforts will include new strategies, like collaboration with Spanish language radio stations, as well as in-person communication in the parts of the city hardest hit by COVID-19.
The task force will examine future options like mass vaccination events accessible by public transit, while also providing updates on how people can get vaccinated and how many doses are on hand.
On Tuesday a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the state will now receive 88,000 doses per week instead of 76,000.
The Biden administration had previously announced a boost in the number of doses sent to states, as well as three weeks advance notice of how much vaccine will be distributed.
Governors and health leaders in both Missouri and Kansas have pointed to a lack of supply as the major obstacle in getting more people vaccinated.
However, on Wednesday, Mayor Lucas disagreed that quantity was the root problem.
"There are vaccinations happening, but those vaccinations are not being done in Kansas City, in Chicago, anywhere with the level of equity in mind that we would all like," Lucas said.
Moving forward his focus is on equitable distribution, with a goal of getting to 10,000 vaccinations per day.
"I don't produce vaccines, but what we can do is make sure when they are here, everybody has a fair chance of getting them," Lucas said.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect Dr. Valerie Chow's current title as "retired anesthesiologist."