January 2021
It is hard to quantify the impact COVID has made on all of us. None of us have escaped without an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. For some, the impact has been painful and life changing.

None of us has ever gone through something like this before. Many of us have had to miss out on life events we can never get back. Could we as leaders and as a community have done better or made better decisions? I am sure we will debate this for the rest of our lives. Hind Sight is 20/20. It is easier to look back and second-guess every decision that was made.

From my perspective, everyone involved, from the Governor, to the Secretary of Health, to the county health officer and director, and to the medical professionals all around us, everyone is doing the best they can. Nevertheless, every decision that is made seems to bring out many supporters and critics. Trying to make public policy on this pandemic has been the most challenging aspect in all my years in elected office. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make perfect decisions or create perfect strategies.

Today, the big decision is how to roll out the extremely limited vaccine. We have way more people that want and need the vaccine than we have available. This disparity may last for months. Again, there are no perfect strategies.

Sedgwick County is starting with the oldest and frailest among us. One of the thoughts behind this is to realize which demographic constitutes the majority of the patients suffering from COVID in the hospitals and who is dying from the virus. As of today Sedgwick County is vaccinating those that are 83 years of age and up.

The fact is, we all wish we had more vaccine. The county is communicating with KDHE that based on our population, we believe 17% of the vaccine that comes into the state should come to our county. That is our fair share. Our goal is to get the vaccine administered to the most vulnerable as quickly as possible.

Thankfully our WSU MDL lab continues to be a successful tool in providing accurate Covid tests with a tremendously quick turn around helping our businesses to respond quickly and enables them to function safely. Our SG residents are able to receive quick results and get back to work as soon as possible.

The best news I can share with you is that the COVID case numbers and hospital numbers are marginally improving every week since before Thanksgiving. Many feared the spike would set us back and overwhelm the hospitals even more. Thankfully, that did not happen. I credit the people among us for doing great things that made that happen.

I believe the worst of this pandemic is behind us. As the calendar turns towards summer, the days are filled with more sunshine, and people spend more time in the outdoors, I am hopeful that this pandemic will subside. On top of that, as the vaccine continues to roll out, the COVID threat to this community must weaken.

Let us have hope, better times are coming. No one knows for sure yet but I am optimistic that around mid to late summer, perhaps we can say we won.
COVID-19 Report for January 29, 2021 
Comparing case counts from Wednesday to today:
  • The United States of America case count increased from 25,504,894 to 25,817,479 (+ 1.23 percent).
  • Today, the State of Kansas case count increased less than one percent, from 272,517 to 274,685. 
  • In Sedgwick County, case counts increased from 38,923 to 39,886 (+ 2.47 percent). 

The Sedgwick County Health Department offers no-cost, walk-in sampling at the K-State Research and Extension Center, 7001 W. 21st St. Walk-ins are welcome from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow the signs to the southern entrance facing 21st St.

The Health Department takes a nasal, oral, or saliva sample to send to a lab for COVID-19 PCR testing. Results are generally available within 18 to 36 hours. The results of the virus test show whether a person has a current infection. This is not an antibody test.

Visit www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19 to learn more about the County’s response to COVID-19.
COVID-19 Vaccines Doses Slowly Become Available
Sedgwick County is currently vaccinating residents aged 80 and older with their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The County is focusing on people 80 and older, due to their likelihood of serious complications if they test positive for COVID-19. Additionally, we will not schedule more appointments than the vaccine available. Two vaccine clinics are offered by appointment only, one at INTRUST Bank Arena and one at the Wichita Transit Operations Center. 
The COVID-19 vaccine is one tool in our community toolbox that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please continue to follow the three W’s: wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance by keeping six feet of space between you and others.
Vaccine Questions:
Contact your medical provider prior to receiving the vaccine if you have questions about how the vaccine may interact with your medical condition and medications you take.
Please continue to direct general questions about the COVID-19 vaccine to (316) 660-1022; this line is not for scheduling appointments.
County Pledge:
As more vaccine is received, the Sedgwick County Health Department will vaccinate more people while following guidance from CDC, KDHE, and Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns. The vaccination schedule is designed to assure that all who want to be vaccinated will have that opportunity. The implementation of the vaccination schedule is dependent on the manufacturing and distribution schedule from vaccine providers. The County will not schedule more appointments than the vaccine available. Updated information is available at https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19/vaccine/.  
Meitzner, Cruse Chosen to Lead Commission Through 2021
Sedgwick County Commissioners re-selected First District Commissioner Pete Meitzner and Fourth District Commissioner Lacey Cruse to lead the commission through 2021. Both will serve until January 14, 2022.

Meitzner began his first term as a Sedgwick County Commissioner representing District 1 in January 2019. Prior to serving as a Commissioner, he represented Wichita District II as a City Councilmember for seven years. His experience as a business leader, his budget knowledge and his civic work have supported his work in local government as well as with state and federal officials. Meitzner also serves on numerous non-profit and community boards.  

Cruse joined the Board Sedgwick County Commissioners in January 2019. She has more than a decade of private sector experience in the areas of communications to include, branding, marketing, and advertising. Cruse is also a singer / songwriter and an accomplished musician. During her time as a Commissioner, Cruse has been a fierce advocate for issues relating to behavioral and mental health, diversity and inclusion and building community partnerships. She currently has a role on several boards including the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition, the Arts Council and The Kansas African-American Museum.
Projects in District 5
Bridge Replacements on 71st between Old Spring Road and Greenwich
  • Closed to traffic during construction
  • Work began November 30, 2020
  • Expected to reopen in early Summer 2021

Pathway Construction from Cumberland Way to MacArthur
  • Road closures on Clifton and Englewood during construction
  • Work to begin February 2, 2021
  • Expected to be complete in April 2021
Keep our Furry Friends Warm this Season
Even animals with thick coats can freeze in the cold weather. Please review these helpful tips to keep your pets warm if they must be outdoors.
Commission Approves State Legislative Platform
Recently Commissioners voted to focus on five priority issues with the State. Topics include support for mental and behavioral health, nuisance abatement, charter commission, broadband access, and the right to a speedy trial.
New Exhibit at The Kansas African American Museum
Plan your visit to experience compelling images and artifacts sharing the perspectives of African Americans in the 20th century. “Through Our Eyes” navigates the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, life in the South, and beyond. This exhibit is open now through April 24, 2021.
The Future Has Arrived at Exploration Place
Exploration Place’s latest national traveling exhibit explores how science fiction has inspired the innovative new techonologies of today, and into the future. 

POPnology: From SciFi to Wifi shows how some of the greatest works of pop culture have fired the human imagination, and influenced almost every aspect of our daily lives. 

Enjoy this exhibit now through May 2, 2021. 
Coming Soon: Nominations for the Excellence in Public Service Award
Stay tuned to Sedgwick County’s social media pages and website for information about the Excellence in Public Service Award. The nomination period will begin soon! 

Contact Commissioner Jim Howell: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203