Lack of cooperation hinders contact tracing efforts

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Lack of cooperation makes it difficult for the Kansas City, Missouri Department of Health to determine if there were any cases of COVID-19 transmission during Garth Brooks’ August 7 concert at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

The city said its disease investigators have been hampered by unreturned phone calls and people refusing to answer contact tracer questions.

“We spoke to a few who went to the concert,” Michelle Pekarsky, public information officer at KCMO’s health department, said by email, “but because they also went (to) d ‘other public places and have had contact with many others in their circle and beyond, we cannot know where they contracted the virus.

The health department has faced the same challenge of investigating cases of COVID-19 among fans who have attended Kansas City Royals games – and they are not alone.

“For case investigations, the percentage of people who were willing to complete the interview decreased over time,” said Chip Cohlmia, head of the communicable disease prevention and public health preparedness division for Jackson County Department of Health. “Looking at my numbers, in April about 86% of our patients were ready for an interview. Over time, that number has come down to around 70%.

When a positive case of COVID-19 is identified, disease investigators contact to assess symptoms, determine onset of symptoms and identify who else may have been exposed.

In the absence of these talks, containing an epidemic is almost impossible, so ultimately the lack of cooperation only prolongs the pandemic.

“Contact tracing is really the primary way to identify people who have been exposed and start putting in a quarantine before they become infectious,” Cohlmia said. “People who are infectious with COVID-19 are contagious from two days before symptoms appear until 10 days after symptoms appear. “

Officially, there have been no cases of transmission linked to the Chiefs or Royals games or the Garth Brooks concert, which was the largest mass rally in the Kansas City area since the start of the pandemic.

The Royals have started operating the Kauffman stadium at full capacity again on May 31, drawing two of its three biggest crowds of the season last weekend for a series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The club has an average of nearly 19,400 fans on the current homestand, which has featured the New York Yankees, Cardinals and Houston Astros.

The chefs have started ticket sales for the 2021 season at full capacity in May and plan to license over 70,000 for games – similar to the Garth Brooks concert – after having been capped at 22% capacity throughout the 2020 season, including the playoffs.

The health ministry said 35 people were vaccinated at the Garth Brooks salon, where spectators had to wear masks inside the stadium.

Fans of the Chiefs will also be required to wear masks indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, as long as the city’s mask mandate remains in effect.

Brooks, who exhausted in one day, encouraged fans to wear masks before the show.

His wife, country music star Trisha Yearwood, battled COVID-19 in February. She made an appearance during the encore on stage for a few songs.

Brooks announced on Wednesday that he was cancel the five remaining shows during his visit to the stadium amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

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