Mask order a good idea, KU doctors say

Doctors also discuss fireworks

Wyandotte County saw an increase of 22 cases from Monday to Tuesday afternoon, for a cumulative total of 2,232, according to the UG COVID-19 website. There were no new deaths, the total number remained the same at 82. (UG COVID-19 webpage)

The mask order for counties and the state of Kansas is a good idea, according to doctors at the University of Kansas Health System.

Wyandotte County’s mask order went into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, It requires people in any public indoor spaces to wear masks, and also to wear masks in public places outdoors, including the parks, but not while exercising outside without others around. There are some exceptions. Also, the state of Kansas announced a statewide mask order that will go into effect on Friday.

“We have really good population data suggesting and saying that people or countries or areas that mask have lower spread of disease and have lower mortalities,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said.

It’s a good culture change, and he hopes it won’t be for long, he added. For the time being, it’s the best thing to do, he said.

People should do the masking in confined areas when they can’t physically distance, Dr. Hawkinson said. That may be for a short time. The masking will not affect people’s ability to breathe in oxygen or exhale carbon dioxide, he said. Some persons may not be able to wear masks for medical reasons, he added.

Dr. Hawkinson said although there is some misinformation circulating on social media, for those who are able medically to wear a mask, there is no evidence that there are problems with air exchange, or a decreased immune system.

“You can have decreased spread of the infection, leading to decreased infection,” Dr. Hawkinson said.

Dr. Dhaval Bhavsar, a surgeon at KU Health System, said surgeons have been wearing masks for hours at a time, and wearing a mask should not cause any problems for those who don’t have medical conditions such as COPD.

Any little skin irritation caused by the mask could be seen by a dermatologist, who may recommend a moisturizer or topical steroid cream, according to the doctors.

The doctors advised leaving the N95 and surgical masks for health care professionals. Have two or three cloth masks, so one can be used and one can be in storage, Dr. Hawkinson said. The masks can be laundered as other clothes.

The doctors also discussed several situations involving masks. In one case, with a relative coming home from the nursing home and having caregivers in the home, the caregivers and the relative should both wear masks, he said. Eye protection or goggles also would help, he said.

Dr. Hawkinson said wearing a mask is a huge culture change here. In Asia, people have been wearing masks for quite a long time, often for pollution. It also helps with allergies, he said.

He said he hoped it won’t have to be that long that people will have to wear masks. He encouraged people to read information about it on the CDC website and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website, which have data about mask wearing.

Dr. Bhavsar said doctors take the utmost precautions, sterilizing everything, following guidelines, scrubbing, wearing a gown, gloves and surgical masks.

“Why? Because over the years we learned that reduces infections,” he said.

From seeing that, people could learn that wearing a mask could prevent infections.

Being outdoors is better than indoors, Dr. Hawkinson said, especially when you are more than 6 feet apart outdoors.

When asked what would be the primary danger of getting together in a group at an event serving food, he said that people should be aware that if there is a table set up with food, people can have contact with utensils that can spread the disease. If it gets on the hands and someone rubs the eyes or mouth, the virus can spread, he added.

The physical distance from each other is perhaps the most important factor, he said.

“We do know the virus is spread through droplets,” he added. When people breathe out, laugh, cough, or sneeze, droplets may go about 6 feet away, or a little more or less, and that is why masks and proximity are important, he said. Those who can stay 6 to 8 feet away will reduce the risk more of inhaling droplets than if they are close, he added.

Also, masks will provide a barrier, he said, if people have the infection and don’t know it. The mask reduces the chance of spreading the virus, and also reduces the risk of coming into contact with the virus, he said.

Dr. Hawkinson said wearing a mask is a consideration for others and can offer some protection for the wearer, also. When going to a store, people usually aren’t wearing the mask very long. He advised people to clean their hands before putting the mask on, and when taking it off.

Doctors discuss fireworks safety

Dr. Bhavsar, who works with burn patients and plastic surgery patients at KU Health System, said people have been inside for the last three months, and there would probably be many more people lighting fireworks on the Fourth of July, including some who are not experienced at it.

The emergency department at KU saw several fireworks injuries last year, he said.

Sparklers caused the most injuries, and a frequent sparkler injury was when a child touched the middle of it. Sometimes, a small child holding a sparkler turned to the side and someone else was burnt, he said, or made a sudden movement with sparks flying in someone’s face.

Sometimes the hand and face was injured by fireworks, he said. Often, the cause was when a firework did not ignite immediately, and someone went to look at it and light it again, he added.

Seventy-six percent of the injuries were to males, he added.

Once, Dr. Bhavsar said, parents had packed up the fireworks after the Fourth of July, but a child was curious about them. The child was alone at home one day and got into the M80s. The child lost most of his hand, he said.

Jessica Lovell of KU Health System suggested these alternatives to fireworks: Confetti poppers, glow-in-the-dark bubbles, glow sticks, silly string, glow paint, color flashlights and rocket straws.

Dr. Bhavsar’s advice: “Be safe, watch out for kids. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and use fireworks.”

Case numbers improved, compared to Monday

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said there were 17 positive COVID-19 patients at the KU Health System Tuesday morning, including seven in the intensive care unit and two on ventilators. The numbers of patients are headed downward from Monday, when there were 18 cases, and down from 24 before that. Dr. Hawkinson said they have seen COVID-19 patients in the hospital who are younger, including a patient in his mid-40s who they hope will be discharged soon.

Wyandotte County saw an increase of 22 cases from Monday to Tuesday afternoon, for a cumulative total of 2,232, according to the UG COVID-19 website. There were no new deaths, the total number remained the same at 82.

The KU doctors’ news conference is online at

The Wyandotte County mask order is at

A news release on the Wyandotte County mask order is at

The governor’s news release on mask-wearing is at

Wyandotte County now has posted an application for nonprofits, government agencies, school districts and businesses in Wyandotte County that want to apply for CARES Act funding. The web address is

For information on how to make an easy no-sew mask, visit

For more information about COVID-19 testing, including other sites, visit Residents also may call 3-1-1 for more information about testing.

The UG’s COVID-19 information page is at

The state’s COVID-19 test page is at

Residents may visit the UG COVID-19 website at or call 311 for more information.

Wyandotte County is currently under Phase 3. See

The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at

FDA issues guidance on COVID-19 vaccine development

The Food and Drug Administration today issued guidance on development of vaccines to prevent COVID-19.

According to the FDA, the guidance reflects advice it has been offering the past few months to companies, researchers and others, and contains the FDA’s current recommendations on data needed to manufacture, develop and receive final approval.

While it is expediting the work, the FDA still has a responsibility to make sure its decisions are based on science and available data, according to FDA officials. The FDA will only approve or make available a COVID-19 vaccine if it determines that it meets high standards that are expected of the FDA, the official stated.

The guidance, “Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19,” is at

Bill to expand Medicaid passes U.S. House

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act passed the U.S. House on June 29.

The bill, which would allow Medicaid to expand in Kansas, was supported by U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist. Other provisions of the bill would help lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs and protect people with pre-existing conditions.

“Kansas has come close to expanding its Medicaid program in the past, but always fell short. I’ve long fought to help Kansas finally expand Medicaid and I was proud to have secured key measures in this bill to help our state cover the cost of expansion, meaning an estimated 150,000 Kansans would receive access to quality, affordable health care. We need to build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act, not tear it down in the middle of a global pandemic. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to vote on this essential piece of legislation right away,” Rep. Davids said.

“I applaud Representative Davids’ efforts to get health care for the people in our state who desperately need it. But at some point, Kansas Republican leadership needs to decide if clinging on to this punitive, bad faith argument is more important than helping the people they were elected to serve,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “We will introduce Medicaid expansion next session, and I hope Republican Leadership puts politics aside and works with me to bring this life-saving care and funds to Kansas.”

“I want to thank Congresswoman Davids for her leadership to protect and expand Americans’ access to Medicaid coverage. Rep. Davids helped lead efforts on key provisions in the Affordable Care Enhancement Act that would incentivize states, including Kansas, to expand their Medicaid programs. If adopted, these provisions would provide quality, affordable health coverage to millions of Americans including over 100,000 Kansans,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.