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Nick’s Picks | First COVID-19 Vaccines Expected in Kansas City This Week

Help is on the Way

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

They’re finally coming. The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive later this week in Kansas City. 

The Missouri health director says the first shipment from Pfizer will provide 51,000 doses to medical providers across the state. Additional shipments will bring that total to 339,000 by the end of the month. 

Kansas is expecting its first vaccinations by next week. 

Pecking Order

While the arrival of the vaccine is welcome news, behind the scenes there’s growing tension over who should get the vaccine first.

In Kansas and Missouri, health care workers and staff at long-term care facilities will be vaccinated first, followed by nursing home residents.

Who should come next? 

While both states have prioritized first responders, the largest teachers union in Kansas argues educators should be at the front of the line.  They say giving school employees’ priority access to the vaccine will speed up the reopening of classrooms and build trust in the vaccination program.

So what about the rest of us?

The Missouri health director says a COVID-19 vaccine will be available for anyone who wants one starting on May 1, 2021.

The two sets of vaccination shots will be totally free. But we are learning that medical providers will be allowed to assess an administrative fee for giving you the shot.

But just because there’s a vaccine, would you take it? According to the Gallup polling organization, four in 10 Americans say they wouldn’t get vaccinated. And even some health professionals seem to be hesitant. An October survey by the American Nurses Foundation found only 34% of nurses would take it voluntarily.

Fans or Not?

High school sports are back. But if you live in Kansas no fans are allowed to watch any of the games. Now parents are pushing back and putting pressure on the state high school sports association to reverse its “no fan” ban. 

The board of directors of the Kansas State High School Activities Association is scheduled to meet later this week to take a second vote on the issue.

Fans at KU

While local health leaders are preparing for a Thanksgiving-related COVID-19 surge this week, the University of Kansas is bringing back sports fans.

Nearly a month after blocking spectators from athletic events, KU basketball will welcome back fans to Allen Fieldhouse for its Tuesday game against Creighton. Nearly 10,000 fans will be allowed for the winless Kansas football team’s matchup against Texas on Saturday.

Playoff Tickets

The Kansas City Chiefs are now officially in the playoffs. Coveted playoff tickets are going on sale this week. 

With pandemic capacity limits at Arrowhead Stadium they’re going to be harder to get this year.

Season ticket holders will have first dibs on seats starting today. 

All remaining tickets will be released on Friday. Jackson County residents will go first at 8 a.m. and everyone else will get a crack at snagging a seat beginning at noon on Friday.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates with the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy after the AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans. (David Stluka | AP)

Legislative Finish Line

Is this finally the week Missouri lawmakers head for home? The Missouri Senate will vote this week on a $1.3 billion COVID-19 spending bill. 

The money will be used to shore up the state’s unemployment benefits fund, help schools offset pandemic related costs and boost funding for the National Guard.

It’s uncertain whether lawmakers will also approve a bill shielding nursing homes and other businesses in the state from COVID-19 related lawsuits.

The special session began Nov. 5 and was halted before Thanksgiving after a virus outbreak among lawmakers. 

New City Manager This Week

Kansas City’s new city manager starts this week. Brian Platt was the top administrator in Jersey City, New Jersey, before taking the Kansas City job. He will earn $265,000 a year. He also gets a car.

What he won’t get is a honeymoon. Every Black council member voted against his hiring and he’s now being forced to respond to accusations of racial discrimination in his previous position.

Platt was named as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by 10 Jersey City employees. In the legal filing, they claim the city discriminated against them based on race and age and illegally transferred or demoted them. 

Platt says a state panel had already looked into the claims and found no wrongdoing.

But more headaches await.  Platt inherits a budget in financial distress and he’s under pressure to creatively manage what could be a large round of layoffs and service cuts.

Local Control of Police

The neverending debate over local control of police will be one of the top stories coming out of City Hall this week. The Kansas City Council is expected to take up the issue on Thursday. 

Mayor Quinton Lucas believes having direct city control over the department would make it more accountable. Missouri lawmakers would have to sign off on the measure. For the past 80 years, the KCPD has been overseen by a state appointed board.  

Sneak Peek at Truman Library

This summer, a newly revamped Truman Library was scheduled to reopen after the biggest transformation project in its history.  But like so much else this year, the pandemic halted that public unveiling. While the museum has been closed since last year, you can still get a sneak peek inside.

You can take a behind-the-scenes virtual tour at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, you have a second chance on Thursday at 6 p.m.  Both experiences are free and include a Q&A with top museum staff.  Reserve your digital seat at trumanlibrary.gov/events.

Peanuts for Public TV

You may have read recently that it’s getting harder to find some of your favorite movies and classic TV shows because they’re being vacuumed up by streaming sites that are putting them behind a paywall.

Apple TV is the latest to anger Americans by stealing away a cherished holiday tradition, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Now, after public pushback it’s coming back….and guess where? Yes, it’s coming to public television and for the very first time.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” will air ad-free on Kansas City PBS this Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Festival of Lights

We wish all of our Jewish friends and neighbors a Happy Hanukkah. The holiday, which is sometimes called “The Festival of Lights,” begins this Thursday evening. It lasts eight days.

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