Missouri, Kansas health officials respond after CDC director warns of rise in COVID-19 cases

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the country’s top health officials is worried of “impending doom” as COVID-19 cases increase in many states. Dr. Rochelle Walensky made a passionate plea for people to continue to be vigilant in a news conference Monday afternoon. 

“What we’ve seen over the last week or so is a steady rise of cases. We’re now in the 60-70,000 range,” Walensky said. “When we see that uptick in cases what we’ve seen before is that things have a tendency to surge and surge big.” 

Local health officials have not expressed the same concerns as the CDC Director. The latest numbers in Kansas and Missouri show a little over 14% of the population has been fully vaccinated. 

Local trends have people like retired physician Thomas C. Thomas concerned. 

 “I don’t know about the doom part but it sure could be very bad,” Thomas said. “I’m going to continue to do [follow guidelines] until I feel comfortably vaccinated. I don’t go anywhere without my mask I don’t go much of anywhere anyway.” 

Across the area, some people have noticed fewer masks. 

“I just feel like everybody is starting to get a little too complacent and then you have spring break coming and I think there will be a lot of surges coming on,” a woman in Liberty said. “I’ve already seen people in stores with no mask and their children with no masks.” 

“We know that travel is up and I just worry that we will see the surges we’ve seen over the summer and over the winter,” Walensky said. 

As national health officials worry about a climb in COVID-19 cases, local officials say numbers have been steady. 

“I think until something happens whether it’s new variants or unknown variants, I think we will probably stay in this 5-15 range for active infections at any one time for the foreseeable future,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the KU Health System’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control said. “When we get more vaccines out there and that will help.” 

On the Kansas side of state line, anyone over 16 is now eligible for a vaccine. Missouri will open eligibility to everyone over 16 on April 6.

“This is a bad virus. The vaccine may make you feel bad but it won’t kill you, but that virus will,” Thomas said. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect when Missouri moves to its last vaccine phase.

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