‘We’re in the second wave’: KC seeing jump in COVID-19 cases, health department director says

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The second wave of COVID-19 cases that metro officials have been both expecting and dreading is here, according to one health expert. 

Opening the doors to local restaurants and businesses during the pandemic has been a slow process. Erin McZee, general manager of Mickey’s Hideaway in Westport, said that’s just fine. 

“I’m happy to reopen slowly, to not have to shut down again,” McZee said.

McZee has put extra precautions in place at Mickey’s and Char Bar to keep her staff and customers safe. That includes sanitizing stations, tables closed to keep proper physical distance and requiring a sign-in for contact tracing. 

“It’s a lot extra, but I think it’s worth it,” McZee said. “Obviously, the worst thing for us would be for everybody to open up, and there be no rules and there be another spike and to have to shut down again.”

That spike is here, according to Dr. Rex Archer, the Kansas City Health Department director.

“We’re in the second wave,” Archer said.

While businesses in Kansas City will continue at 50% capacity until at least July 5, the state of Missouri plans to fully reopen Tuesday.

Archer said that sends a false signal to people. He expect a second wave of deaths related to COVID-19 because of it. 

“Regardless of what the elected officials say in regards to what you may, or may not, legally be able to do, it is not prudent or wise for high-risk folks to be going out and not being very, very careful,” Archer said.

Kansas City is seeing 40 new cases of COVID-19 each day, according to Archer. He encourages people who are at high risk — and those who hang around them — to stay home. 

“My wife and I aren’t going to go eat at a restaurant because there’s no way, even under the current order, that it can be done safely right now,” Archer said.

Still, McZee works to keep a clean environment for guests, sanitizing high-traffic areas every hour and requiring employees to wear masks. 

“My top priority is for my staff and myself, and my guests to be safe and to feel as if we did everything we could to make sure they were safe,” McZee said.

Archer said he understands people need human interaction to stay sane. He encourages people to find a quarantine crew where you pick a handful of people to hang out with and don’t jump from group to group.

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