Coro­n­avirus means some should avoid events, of­fi­cials say

The Kansas City Star - - News - BY CORTLYNN STARK [email protected]­ Cortlynn Stark: 816-234-4784, @Cort­lyn­n_S­tark

Kansas City of­fi­cials at a Wed­nes­day news con­fer­ence said peo­ple at higher risk for the new coro­n­avirus should think about stay­ing home and avoid­ing big events such as the Big 12 tour­na­ments and the St. Pa­trick’s Day Pa­rade.

Preg­nant women, peo­ple over 60 and those with un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tions should con­sider avoid­ing large gath­er­ings, the of­fi­cials said. Peo­ple over 70 shouldn’t go at all. Those are groups most at risk from COVID-19, the dis­ease’s of­fi­cial name.

There has not been a case of the virus in Jack­son County yet, though two peo­ple have been di­ag­nosed in Kansas and Mis­souri. The coro­n­avirus has in­fected more than 100,000 peo­ple across the globe and killed more than 4,000.

“For folks that are over 70,” Kansas City Health De­part­ment Direc­tor Dr. Rex Archer said, “the risk con­tin­ues to go up with this dis­ease in re­gards to se­ri­ous health com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and po­ten­tial0 death.”

Kansas City Mayor Quin­ton Lu­cas said that while they have not can­celed ei­ther event, that could change. The Big 12 men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment be­gins Wed­nes­day evening. The St. Pa­trick’s Day Pa­rade is Satur­day.

Lu­cas said au­thor­i­ties do not have enough informatio­n to say there is a “public health threat to the broader public” if the events go on.

Archer, who is over the age of 60 and at higher risk him­self, said he has given up tick­ets to theater shows “Aladdin” and “Fid­dler on the Roof.”

Emer­gency Med­i­cal

Ser­vices Med­i­cal Direc­tor Dr. Erica Car­ney said preg­nant women, any­one with more than one chronic health con­di­tion such as high blood pres­sure or lung dis­ease, should avoid large gath­er­ings.

Peo­ple who live with some­one with un­der­ly­ing con­di­tions should also avoid those gath­er­ings.

“On top of that,” Car­ney said, “if you are younger and you come down with symp­toms, we rec­om­mend that you avoid go­ing to nurs­ing homes.”

Those with symp­toms should try to stay out of emer­gency rooms and hos­pi­tals. First, Car­ney said, they should call their pri­mary care physi­cian and the health de­part­ment. If some­one shows up at a hos­pi­tal, they can’t be tested for the coro­n­avirus.

The avail­abil­ity of test kits, Archer said, has been one of the big­gest chal­lenges in the U.S.

“There is still not the ca­pac­ity that we would like to see in public health,” Archer said. “I’d love to have avail­abil­ity of tests to where I could be do­ing some ran­dom screen­ing in emer­gency rooms where peo­ple have sim­i­lar symp­toms to this virus. We don’t have that ca­pac­ity to do that right now.”

For now, Car­ney said, ev­ery­one should fo­cus on wash­ing their hands.

CORTLYNN STARK [email protected]­

Mayor Quin­ton Lu­cas, Health Direc­tor Dr. Rex Archer and EMS Med­i­cal Direc­tor Dr. Erica Car­ney warned the public.

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