Help stop the spread of COVID-19

There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that cause mild illness, like the common cold. COVID-19 is a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. COVID-19 is particularly dangerous because it spreads easily from person to person and has a higher death rate than seasonal flu. Doctors are finding that the virus often has lingering effects that could have long-term impacts on your health.

COVID-19 is real, and you have an important part to play in protecting yourself and others from the virus. What can you do?

COVID doesn’t take time off for the holidays

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s more important than ever not to let your guard down.

Start planning now to make your holiday activities safer for your friends and and family. In addition to the basic steps to protect your health described below, here are some suggestions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 this holiday season.

Wear a mask

Masks are the most effective tool we have right now to stop the spread of COVID-19, and there is strong evidence that when more people wear masks, fewer people get infected with the virus.

  • In Kansas, counties that adopted a mask mandate saw a 34% decrease in new cases between July 3 and Aug. 5, while counties without a mask mandate saw an 0.7% increase during the same time frame. (Source: KDHE)
  • In Missouri, health officials reported no COVID-19 cases among 139 clients exposed to two symptomatic hair stylists with confirmed COVID-19 while both the stylists and the clients wore face masks. (Source: CDC)

Always wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you’re out and about in public places. Mask are most effective when we all wear them — your mask protects others and their masks protect you. So wear one for your family, for your friends and neighbors, and for your community. For more information visit our Cloth Mask and Face Coverings page.

Get tested

If you have coronavirus symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, you need to get tested. If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the virus, you need to get tested — even if you don’t have symptoms.

The most common type of COVID-19 tests involves using a swab to collect mucus from your nose or throat. The swab may be a little uncomfortable, but the collection process only takes a few seconds.

To find out where you can get a COVID-19 test, talk to a health care provider or use the map on the Comeback KC website or the Comeback KC Testing Events page. Each location may have different guidelines for who can be tested. Many sites offer free tests even if you don’t have insurance, and test results are confidential. Call ahead for specific details.

When you get tested, health care workers will tell you what you need to do to avoid infecting others. The vast majority of tests come back negative, but until you get your test results you should behave as you would if you had the virus. Stay home and maintain social distancing. Keep apart from family members as much as you can. If you have symptoms, visit the CDC website to learn more about what to do if you are sick.

If your test is positive, health care workers will ask where you’ve been recently and who you’ve been near (also known as contact tracing) so that they can let those you’ve been in close contact with know they may have been exposed. Contact tracers will NOT provide your name when they make those calls.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water. Soap kills the virus, but you must wash for at least 20 seconds for it to work. Keep hand sanitizer with you for situations where you can’t access soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Get a flu shot

It is possible to get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which means flu vaccinations are more important than ever this year. Doctors are concerned that having the flu may make it harder for your body to fight off the coronavirus and vice versa. Also, hospitals that are already straining their resources to treat COVID-19 patients could easily be overwhelmed with a large influx of people with flu.

Flu shots are widely available at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies all across the metro. Get a flu shot before the end of October and don’t neglect other vaccinations.

Keep your distance

Coronavirus can spread from one person to another when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or even sings.

Keeping a distance of six feet between yourself and others makes it less likely that you’ll breathe in the virus particles they breathe out — and remember, not everyone who’s infected shows symptoms. Anyone might be carrying the virus, so maintain social distancing (and wear a mask!) any time you are with people who don’t live in your household.

Avoid crowds

More people means more risk. Large gatherings can easily become “super-spreader” events. So before you head out to that family gathering, football game or dinner with friends, think about the risks. Protect yourself and your family by avoiding large crowds. Put the parties and potlucks on hold for now, and when you do go out be sure to wear a mask and keep your distance.

Follow local guidelines

Local public health departments, city and county governments, and school districts are tracking COVID-19 data carefully and sometimes have to make tough decisions to close businesses or cancel activities. Do your part to protect your health, your family and your community by following established guidelines.

Every county and some larger cities (like Kansas City, Missouri) has a local public health department that works to detect, control and prevent communicable diseases. In addition to testing and tracing for a disease like COVID, health departments offer a wide range of wellness programs, such as child immunizations, particularly to low-income residents. These local departments work closely with state health departments. Find contact information for your local health department here.

In the Kansas City region, health care providers, government agencies, employers and nonprofit organizations have been working together for months to provide accurate information to their clients and constituents. Some of these regional efforts are described below.

  • Initiated by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Area Development Council, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and others, the “Responsible Re-entry” group focuses on coordination and communication with businesses about masking, distancing, testing and other proactive strategies in the workplace.
  • The “Comeback KC” communications task force, part of a public-private collaboration led by KC Digital Drive, focuses on general public outreach and has developed messages specifically targeted to young adults.
  • Local governments work together through the Mid-America Regional Council, which is governed by a board of directors made up of elected officials from cities and counties in the region. Some of the long-established regional committees convened by MARC that have taken an active role in COVID planning and response include:
    • Metropolitan Official Health Agencies of the Kansas City Area (MOHAKCA)
    • The Public Health and Hospital subcommittees of the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee
    • The MARC Health Care Coalition
    • The Regional Association of Public Information Officers (RAPIO)
    • The Metropolitan Emergency Managers Committee (MEMC)
    • The Mid-America Regional Council Emergency Rescue Committee (MARCER)
Phone: 816-474-4240
600 Broadway, Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64105
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