Experts say we can do better as Missouri, Kansas get C’s for reducing movement amid pandemic

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Health officials say the best way not to get COVID-19 is to stay home, social distance, wash your hands often and keep them away from your face.

Yet studies show people in Kansas and Missouri may not be doing enough to stop the spread.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas restricted parking lots at Loose Park and Swope Park on Tuesday in an effort to prevent overcrowding.

Doctors and health officials are still beating the drum about social distancing. They said it’s the key to stopping COVID-19 and saving lives.

“The reality is, if you practice social distancing, you are going to be OK,” University of Kansas Health System Medical Director Dr. Steve Stites said.

They seem like simple things to do: Obey the stay-at-home order, only go out for necessities and, if you do go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others. 

However, people packed the parks last week, often getting way too close to each other and using equipment when they weren’t supposed to. This week, folks out and about seem to be doing better staying away from others.

“If we could get to an 80% reduction in people movement, I think we would see the numbers just bottom out, and we’d get back to very, very quickly back to more normal,” Kansas Health Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said.

Unicast.com tracks people’s movements through cell phones. The site gives both Kansas and Missouri a barely-passing grade of C.

Both states have just a 20-30% reduction in average distance traveled since the COVID-19 outbreak. Less movement means less spread and less burden on hospitals.  

Doctors at KU hospital warn social distancing going on outside is very different from what is happening inside stores and businesses still open to the public.

“And the problem is that big crowds there all jam together because no one would maintain their social distance,” Stites said.

Add on top of that people who may be sick touching merchandise, shopping cart handles and other things where COVID-19 could be hanging out.

“Missouri is the Show Me State. Show me, show me, let’s do this. We can do it together,” Stites said. “Kansas, there’s no place like home. A good combination.”

Some local counties are graded higher than the state it is in. You can see where your county ranks, here

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