Mass vaccination facility will close June 4
An impressive number of Platte Countians have at least initiated vaccination for COVID-19, it was reported last week at a meeting of the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees.
While slightly more than 40% of county residents have initiated vaccination, there are signs that the number of folks turning out for the vaccination clinics is falling.
Mary Jo Vernon, director of the health department, said June 4 will be the final date for the mass vaccination site the health department has been operating at a warehouse in Riverside.
Vaccinations will then transition to being offered at the health department’s Parkville facility located at 1201 East St.
The health department will begin focusing more on outreach, coming up with ways to get more folks interested in receiving the vaccine and making it easier for them to do so.
Vernon said the department will have a contract for funding from the state to perform outreach.
Jeffrey Kingsley, member of the board, said national health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have talked in terms of wanting to reach a 75% vaccination rate.
“That’s almost impossible,” Kinsgsley said. “If we get 50 percent we should celebrate.”
Kingsley was pleased to see the county’s hospitalization rate for COVID, which is at three percent.
“Our hospitalization rates are so low. Three percent is extremely low. Worst case scenarios don’t seem to be playing out, which is an exciting, interesting thing,” he said.
The health department board voted to adopt a new health order regarding COVID, guidelines that for the most part are consistent with Kansas City’s regulations.
No masks are required outdoors. Masks are required indoors in settings for social distancing of six feet apart cannot be maintained.
There no longer are capacity limits on bars and restaurants.
Local health officials said in restaurants “you are required to wear a mask unless you are actively eating or drinking.”
Kingsley campaigned for the idea of following the actions of Johnson County, Kan. which last week decided to do away with all mandates and issue only recommendations.
In the end, none of the other board members jumped on Kingsley’s idea.
“Johnson County is going to have an economic advantage over everyone and money talks,” Kingsley said, speculating that in a week or two other counties would end up following Johnson County’s action.
Dan Luebbert, deputy director for the health department, disagreed.
“Johnson County may be on an island. I don’t anticipate other jurisdictions following their lead on this,” Luebbert remarked. He said he feels Johnson County’s action “is a mistake, frankly.”
It was noted Wyandotte County, Kan. will continue with its mask order through mid-June.
“Our job is to protect public health,” said Vernon.
It was noted that COVID numbers in Platte County are trending at a rate lower than the beginning of the year but have shown modest increases since about April 1.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” Luebbert said.
Kingsley argued about the age requirement in the masking order, asking what data supports starting the exemption for children at age five or below. He suggested exempting anyone under the age of 18. His idea went nowhere with the other members of the board present for the meeting (Kent Jackson, board chairman, was not present).
After discussion continued for some time on the age topic, Cathy Hill, acting as chairman in Jackson’s absence, commented to Kingsley: “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill on this age thing.”
Kingsley ended up voting in favor of the new order as written. The order will expire on May 28.