A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus has killed 500,000 Americans. However, the success of the recent vaccine roll-out has prompted many state and local officials to ease up on the safety measures which were set in place to slow the spread.
On March 5, Crawford County Commissioners cast unanimous votes to rescind Public Health Order #3, which lifted many COVID-era restrictions throughout the county.
“We’re almost there, Kansas! Thanks to your efforts to slow the spread of this virus, we’re ranked in the top 3 for lowest number of cases of any state,” Governor Laura Kelly said in a recent press release. “Together, we can get back to normal by masking up and social distancing until everyone is vaccinated.”
According to county health officers’ reports, Crawford County has sustained a downward trend in admissions, isolations, and quarantines. Health officials said that the mask mandate remains in place. In Friday’s meeting, Tim Stebbins said we should see some exciting movement as more and more people get vaccinated.
Pittsburg city officials met Tuesday, March 9, for the regularly scheduled City Commissioners’ Meeting. Commissioner Dawn McNay outlined the recent changes county commissioners made to public health orders. McNay said Crawford county is in good shape in terms of vaccine availability.
“We are seeing what we hope is a sustained trend line of admissions to the hospital and reduced isolations and quarantines from the K-12 staff and students,” McNay said. “So, they relaxed the restrictions for bars and restaurants in terms of being 6-feet apart so they can up their capacity. Masks are still encouraged but Dr. Stebbins felt that because of the sustained decrease in covid cases, that we can relax some of the health order that was in place before. Between Community Health getting their distribution straight from the federal government, and the health department getting it from the state, we’re in pretty good shape in terms of the vaccine availability…”
Crawford County Health Department will offer COVID vaccinations. Places and times can be found on their website. The Community Health Center of SEK is reaching out to businesses with 20 or more participants to schedule vaccinations for employees. Student workers at Pittsburg State University are also eligible for vaccination.
According to the Topeka Capitol Journal, Kansas saw 606 new COVID-19 cases, five new deaths and 46 new hospitalizations between Wednesday, March 17, and Friday, March 19. Overall, the state has seen 299,500 cases and 4,840 deaths from the coronavirus over the course of the pandemic. The number of ICU beds in Kansas being used for COVID-19 patients have been steadily declining, with only 33 such beds as of Thursday. The number of COVID-19 clusters remain at an all-time low, with only three as of Friday. A long-term care facility in Wamego, an aerospace business in Wichita and a private business in Hesston have each had at least five cases within the past two weeks. On the vaccine front, around 22% of Kansans have been vaccinated with at least one dose, with a total of nearly 968,000 doses administered.
The “American Rescue Plan,” (ARP) signed into law includes support for Kansans. One part of the ARP allows for Kansas Healthcare providers to be reimbursed for expenses and there will be additional funding for mental health programs and businesses dependent on maintaining employee hours and wages.
“The American Rescue Plan will provide critical relief to Kansas families and businesses who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “While I disagreed on the allocation formula, these funds will allow us to make targeted and strategic investments in childcare, broadband, education, and our business communities to aid our recovery from COVID-19.”
The ARP also allocates funding to return children to school, vaccinate the population, provide direct assistance to families, and stimulate economic growth. Democrats and progressives have compared it to Roosevelt’s New Deal with the hopes it will systematically address poverty in America.
For a list of FAQs on COVID-19 relief programs in Kansas, please visit: https://covid.ks.gov