Kansas City forms COVID-19 vaccine task force to better serve minority community

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The city’s COVID-19 vaccine task force is now formed, and leaders said it will focus on distributing to minority communities most affected by the virus.

Mayor Quinton Lucas selected the members for the task force that will help ensure thousands of city residents can safely get the vaccine. The group is made up of experts from various metro health organizations.

Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architecture and construction firm, is involved as well. The mayor said they will provide operational support for facilities or space for vaccinations.

These are the people Mayor Lucas selected:

  • Renita Mollman, Chair – Burns & McDonnell, Chief Administrative 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

The city has been working for the last few months trying to piece together the goals for this task force. Now, this seven-member team will have to work quickly to come up with a plan.

In making this plan, Lucas is focusing on helping those who live in more vulnerable communities. Part of that includes providing transportation to vaccination sites.

“For many Kansas Citians—particularly in our Black and brown communities—the rate at which we are able to offer vaccines is the difference between life and death,” Lucas wrote in a statement. “I have directed the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force to begin meeting immediately and to work with each other and their respective regional leading institutions to provide a transparent plan to most quickly and equitably (FAIRLY VACCINATE) inoculate our community, with particular emphasis on communities and zip codes that have been most devastated by the pandemic.”

Lucas said that 145 out of 100,000 Hispanic, or “Latinx,” Kansas Citians have died from the coronavirus this past year. In contrast, he said 50 out of 100,000 white Kansas Citians have died.

The task force is set to give its recommendations to the health department and city council in 24 days.

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