Coronavirus means some should avoid events, officials say
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.”
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.
Mayor Quinton Lucas, Health Director Dr. Rex Archer and EMS Medical Director Dr. Erica Carney warned the public.