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Nick’s Picks | COVID Cases Rise As We Strive For New Normal

Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day Highlight Week Ahead

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Is this the week our metro finally forgot about COVID? Perhaps. But not because it’s disappeared. It hasn’t.

In fact, virus related admissions have doubled in the last two weeks at some area medical centers. And KU Hospital says it’s had to reopen a second COVID unit to care for the influx of new patients.  

So who are these people now filling these virus wards? Well, they’re not old folks. According to KU, they are your friends and neighbors between the ages of 30 and 50 who have not been vaccinated.

So what’s happening here? Have we finally become so bored with this virus that we’re no longer letting it decide how we live our lives?

It looks that way.

The first sign is that fewer people are even bothering to get tested any longer. And that’s true even when they’re exhibiting tell-tale symptoms.

Some local pediatricians are expressing frustration with parents who are refusing to have their sick children tested because they don’t want to deal with the hassle if the result is positive. According to several news reports, they don’t want their kids to quarantine and miss out on school sports, proms and graduation parties.

Regardless of where you live, warmer weather is bringing more people out and fewer people are wearing masks.

If you moved around Johnson County over the weekend, you would have noticed that. There are no longer “mask required” signs outside hundreds of stores, bars and restaurants.  County leaders dropped the face covering requirement late last week. They’re allowing businesses and organizations to make their own choice.

So what did they do?

Here’s the Nick Haines unscientific survey. 

At Macy’s, the signs requiring masks are still on the doors. Not so at Lowe’s, Jimmy John’s or at the Scheels sporting goods store in Overland Park. On my visit there Saturday, roughly half of the customers were doing their shopping unmasked. 

Lucas Discount Liquors in Overland Park also is no longer requiring face coverings. Even so, almost everyone inside the store was wearing one on my trip there Sunday.  Please know, I only stepped inside that beer and wine emporium for research purposes only. I know you understand that.

It remains to be seen whether Johnson County’s decision to drop its mask mandate will have a domino effect elsewhere in the metro.

So far, Kansas City, Jackson County and Wyandotte County are holding firm on requiring masks indoors. But public pressure has a way of changing things quickly. While Kansas City’s ordinance is in place through the end of May, don’t be surprised if it’s dropped before then.

Spotlight on States

Kansas lawmakers return to the Capitol today for what is likely to be an ugly showdown with Gov. Laura Kelly. The annual veto session begins this week. Over the next few days, local state representatives and senators will be seeking to overturn a slew of measures the governor has rejected, from a transgender sports ban to a bill lowering the age to carry a concealed weapon to 18.

In Missouri, the stalemate continues over funding a voter-approved Medicaid expansion measure. Lawmakers are running out of time. By law, Friday is the deadline for the legislature to send a final budget to the governor. If that does not happen, the issue will be battled out in court.  Under a ballot measure approved by the state’s voters last year, an additional 275,000 low-income Missourians are eligible for Medicaid health insurance starting on July 1.

Housing the Unhoused

We’re expecting to hear more details this week from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas about more permanent plans for housing the homeless.

Many of the homeless who were recently placed in hotels by the city are now moving out. It’s unclear whether they were being disruptive or hotel staff was being disrespectful or management was price gouging the city on room rates, but the city has now announced a new solution. It wants to build a “tiny homes” village for the homeless.

The plan is to build up to 150 cabins using federal stimulus money. But there’s no word yet on where the village will be located or how long residents will be able to live in the 64-square-foot units.

Teen Funerals

Funeral services are this week for two teenage brothers who were killed after leaving Ramadan services at their mosque in Kansas City.

An elder brother is suspected of killing them. He was later fatally shot by police as officers tried to apprehend him.

Police said that the shooting appeared to be domestic in nature. 

City of Fountains

A few weeks ago in this space, I mentioned how most of the city’s fountains had not been powered up for the year because of budget cuts.

Apparently, it costs about $1 million a year to keep them running.

But now that City Hall has just cashed its first big stimulus check, there’s been a change in plans.

The Kansas City Parks Department says the water to be turned back on, starting Tuesday.

More Royals Fans

The Kansas City Royals currently boast the best record in all of baseball. Now more fans can see them in person. 

Starting this week, the Royals are nearly doubling the number of fans they’re letting inside Kauffman Stadium.

More than 17,000 tickets are being offered for tonight’s game against the Cleveland Indians.

Cinco de Mayo

There’s plenty of doom and gloom in the news, but we’ve got lots to celebrate this week.

This Wednesday is Cinco de Mayo and Sunday is Mother’s Day. 

I mention that to give you a few days notice to come up with the most amazing plans to honor the person who gave birth to you.

And while we’re honoring our moms, let’s not forget our teachers. Today starts National Teacher Appreciation Week

Deanna Rose Reopens

After being shut down for more than a year, one of our metro’s most popular children’s attractions finally reopens this week.

The Deanna Rose Farmstead in Overland Park will welcome back visitors on Tuesday.

COVID has brought with it some changes. If you’re thinking of packing up the family and heading over there, you should know that you’re now required to buy timed tickets to avoid overcrowding.

Nelson-Atkins Debuts Outdoor Cinema

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art debuts its new outdoor cinema this week.

They’re calling it “Tivoli Under the Stars” and you can catch the first film this Friday night.

It seems appropriate that they’re going to be showing the popular family flick, “A Night at The Museum.”

Now I was going to tell you about how all this works and how to snag a ticket. But I should just save my breath. I just went to the museum’s website and I see they’ve already sold out every movie screening through July 23rd. And there’s no place on the webpage for you to reserve anything after that. So I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, if you’re looking for an entertaining and educational alternative this Friday night, look no further than Nick Haines and “Kansas City Week on Review” on Kansas City PBS. 

Our weekly delve into the most impactful local stories can leave you whooping with laughter or reaching for the tissue box. It’s also free and you don’t have to find a parking space. But you do have to bring your own popcorn. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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