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Nick’s Picks | Will Return of Fall Sports Lead to a Spike in COVID-19 Cases?

Honoring MLK and Eisenhower Also on Tap This Week

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

This week, area health officials will be closely tracking whether a return to fall sports has come at a cost to public health. It wasn’t just the Kansas City Chiefs playing in front of 17,000 fans at Arrowhead last week, college sports teams and some high schools were also playing in front of crowds.

If there is an increase in COVID-19 infections, will local elected leaders have the will to remove fans or even shut down games?

Sporting events are not the only concern of public health officials. What about shutting down bars?

If you’ve imbibed recently at the Westport Ale House you may get a call this week from a contact tracer. The Westport bar has been singled out as a COVID-19 hot spot after seven employees tested positive for the virus. 

The Kansas City Health Department says the outbreak came to light after responding to complaints of mask and capacity violations at the drinking spot. 

It couldn’t come at a worse time for the city’s struggling bar industry. Last week, a White House task force recommended Missouri temporarily close bars to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So far, Mayor Quinton Lucas has been reluctant to do that. But could this latest outbreak change that calculation. 

Teachers at Risk

How safe would you feel as a teacher during this pandemic? 

Funeral services are this week for a Missouri middle-school teacher who died after contracting COVID-19. The Washington Post reports 34-year-old Ashlee DeMarinis is the sixth teacher to die from the virus since children began returning to schools across the United States. She lived in Potosi, southwest of St. Louis.  While it isn’t clear whether any of the teachers were infected at school, their deaths have renewed fears that classrooms will become a viral breeding ground. 

In Johnson County this week there are funeral services for Olathe West baseball coach Derek Leppert. He also died after contracting COVID-19. According to the school district, he had not been inside Olathe West High School since March. Leppert was honored with a moment of silence as the Kansas City Royals took on the Pittsburgh Pirates at The K on Saturday. 


Interactive COVID-19 Case Mapper


MLK Debate

Tuesday is the first public hearing on new plans to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Kansas City.  

Last fall, voters rejected renaming The Paseo after the slain civil rights leader. 

Is the next best idea to rename a 13-mile stretch of road on Kansas City’s east side after him? And does it matter to you that in the process we’d be changing three road names to make it happen? 

The compilation of thoroughfares now known as Volker Boulevard, Swope Parkway and Blue Parkway would be consolidated into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in this latest proposal.

If you like the idea or have a better one, show up at the Kansas City Parks Board meeting Tuesday at 2 p.m. A second public hearing is planned for the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

In the meantime, did you see that Patrick Mahomes is now giving Kansas City the money to revamp a small and often ignored park in Kansas City that already bears King’s name? The Chiefs quarterback wants to build a brand new experiential playground attraction in Martin Luther King Square Park. It’s located near Swope Parkway and Woodland Avenue and was dedicated in 1978.  The Kansas City Parks Board says it will begin the bidding process for that work, starting this week. 

Honoring Ike

At a time when statues of historic figures are being torn down across the country, a new one is going up this week. Twenty-one years after it was first approved by Congress, the Eisenhower Memorial will be unveiled Thursday in Washington D.C.  Long-delayed by design disputes, it pays tribute to the general who led the Allies to victory during World War II and would go on to become our nation’s 34th president.  

Dwight Eisenhower grew up in Abilene, Kansas, about 150 miles west of Kansas City. The new memorial by renowned architect Frank Gehry honors those roots. The memorial, which is close to the U.S. Capitol building, features statues of Eisenhower at different phases of his life, including as a barefoot boy growing up in rural Kansas. At its base is the quote, “The proudest thing that I can claim is that I am from Abilene.” 

BBQ Weekend

This is the week to eat barbecue Kansas City, if for no other reason than to honor the American Royal World Series of Barbecue. The world’s largest barbecue competition would have taken place this weekend at the Kansas Speedway. It is the first time the event has been cancelled in its more than 40-year history.  If you’re craving ribs and burnt ends, can you find another way to celebrate this Kansas City tradition? I have no doubt that the more than 100 barbecue joints around town would be glad to take your order whether it be for dine-in or take-out.

Boo!

Is it really possible? Apparently so. Kansas City’s haunted houses are reopening this week. The Beast and The Edge of Hell will welcome anyone who wants to be scared out of their skins starting this Friday night. But with the scare of COVID-19, for the first time it won’t be just the monsters wearing the masks. They are required for everyone.

Nick Haines tracks the week’s local news on the primetime public affairs program, “Kansas City Week in Review.” Watch Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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