This weekend Kansas Citians will have to decide how to stay safe during the COVID-19 surge as the Chiefs battle it out with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
At this point in the pandemic, navigating how to stay safe really comes down to personal risk, according to Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System.
On Sunday, there will be watch parties and tailgates galore.
Stites said during a medical briefing on Friday that those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted, who have very recently recovered from COVID-19 or who have both been vaccinated and recently recovered have a lower risk of getting infected, but there’s always some risk of spreading the virus.
“The likelihood of getting the virus, even if you’ve been vaccinated and had it, you can take it home and share it to whoever your family members are, is not going to be insignificant this weekend,” Stites said.
Again, it’s a matter of personal risk. Just like the holiday season, everyone will have to decide what’s best for them and their families.
“My advice is [to] take stock of your situation,” Stites said.
Things to keep in mind
If you do go to a watch party or event this weekend, remember that outdoor activities are typically safer than indoor activities.
Spending more time outside and spreading out from other people is a good way to decrease your risk of infection.
“It’ll still be sunny out,” said Dr. Angela Myers, pediatric infectious disease director at Children’s Mercy during the briefing. “Spend the first half of that game outside.”
If you find yourself indoors, wearing a mask can offer a lot of protection. Stites said it’s important to find a high quality mask as well. N95s and KN95s are some of the most effective against infection.
Here’s where you can find free N95s in Kansas City.
Take into account your own health.
Those who are vaccinated or even boosted might be able to take risks that an unvaccinated person might be less protected from.
If you are vaccinated, it might be time to consider if your vaccination is up to date. Five months after the primary vaccination series people are eligible for a booster shot, according to the CDC.
Check out the Star’s guide on where to find a vaccine near you.
People should also consider their underlying illnesses and how a COVID-19 infection could impact their health.
And if you are experiencing symptoms now or on the day of the game, it’s important that you stay home.
“It’s really no different than what we would have done if someone had symptoms a few years ago and we were talking about flu instead of COVID,” Dr. Todd Beardman, chief medical information officer for North Kansas City Hospital told The Star in December.
“That’s really the trick. If you’re sick you need to stay home,” he said.
If you don’t have any symptoms but think you might still be infected or at risk of infection, get tested. Here’s where to get tested in Kansas City before the big game.
Is the current COVID surge ending in Kansas City?
Yes and no. Data from the past week shows a slight decline in cases, both daily and on average since the previous week. On Thursday, Jan. 27, local municipalities reported 2,391 new cases, continuing the week’s decline.
However, hospitalizations and deaths remain high in the Kansas City area. Stites said in a news briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 25 that it was “much too early to say” that hospitalizations caused by the omicron variant were dropping.
The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths in the area has been around 12.7 deaths per day over the seven days since Thursday, Jan. 27.
“Even though the new numbers appear to be turning downwards, the thing we have to remember is that it’s still out there, there’s still a high degree of prevalence,” Stites said. “You can still shed it and spread it.”
Do you have other questions about the latest COVID-19 wave in Kansas City? Ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org or with the form below.