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Missouri launches new statewide transportation resource guide to expand COVID-19 vaccine access to rural, suburban and urban communities across the state. “Get a Ride” is a comprehensive resource of transportation platforms across each region.
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), with the support of the Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, launched a new statewide transportation guide to help address and eliminate barriers to COVID-19 vaccine access. “Get a Ride” can be found at MOStopsCovid.com/ride.
The Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, which was formed in 2020 to work directly with and engage the DHSS’ external partners and stakeholders, is proud to share this new resource with Missourians, vaccinators, providers and other key stakeholders. This guide is the result of efforts made to increase access to free and low-cost transportation resources across Missouri’s rural, suburban and urban communities to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
“In Missouri, we recognize there is a significant amount of older adults, people with disabilities and low-income individuals who are at higher risk of contracting the virus and don’t have cars, don’t drive, don’t live near public transit and live in rural areas far from vaccination sites,” said Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution Co-Chair Sara Hart Weir. “Throughout our Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution meetings and discussions, access to affordable transportation kept coming up as a barrier to achieve equitable vaccine access. The goal of “Get a Ride” is to provide a comprehensive resource for Missourians to access free transportations in your local community to receive your COVID-19 vaccine.”
“Get a Ride” is now embedded throughout every aspect of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout infrastructure including the state’s COVID-19 hotline, MOstopsCovid.com, and through Missouri’s Regional Implementation Teams. The resources can be customized by location (region and county) for each vaccine event and site. Some providers, such as OATS and SMTS who normally serve older adults and individuals with disabilities are now able to help anyone in their service area with vaccination transportation.
“OATS is happy to be able to provide transportation to vaccination sites for individuals living in rural areas,” said Dorothy Yeager, OATS Transit Executive Director. “Since the first of March, OATS has provided over 480 trips to vaccination sites and the demand continues to grow. OATS looks forward to everyone getting fully vaccinated so that we can get back to normal. OATS will continue to provide this service in the rural communities where they have available vehicles and drivers.”
Ginny Smith, SMTS’ Director of Operations, added, “As the nation continues to recover from COVID-19, SMTS stays committed to helping Missourians as vaccines become available. Transportation should be the last worry when scheduling your appointment for your COVID-19 vaccine. Please contact your local SMTS location and let us assist you. Together, we all will continue to recover ‘Show Me Strong.’”
In addition to serving those with disabilities and those over age 60, the Area Agencies on Aging have received funding to also assist caregivers of older adults to help them get to their vaccine appointments.
“Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, ma4, indicates a key impediment to independence is access to transportation. Missouri's Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) service every county in Missouri and provide reliable transportation, over 879,000 rides in 2020, for all of life's needs to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities have access to transportation,” said Ann McGruder, Executive Director, Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Most of the transportation providers are able to provide this service at no cost. HealthTran is offering reduced costs to their participants who book through them for transportation to a vaccine appointment.
“The Missouri Rural Health Association is dedicated to helping our rural communities understand transportation options to increase access to healthcare in their areas, and find sustainable solutions to barriers they encounter. MRHA’s HealthTran program is staffed to be able to work with communities to assess their current transportation options, while helping link community partners to resources that enhance their ability to increase transportation options to improve the health outcomes of their community,” said Melissa VanDyne, Missouri Rural Health Association’s Executive Director.
Lyft and Uber are not free or discounted in Missouri. Additional transportation options will be added to MOStopsCovid.com/ride as they become available.
KC metro COVID-19 call to action
Public health directors in the Kansas City metropolitan region are issuing the following joint statement on the steps needed to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our community and reduce strain on the health care system. The Mid-America Regional Council is distributing the statement on behalf of the directors. The statement is signed by the following public health directors:
KC metro COVID-19 call to action
COVID-19 is surging in the KC metro area. Along with a substantial increase in cases, there is an increased demand for testing resulting in a lag in testing turn-around time, and a strain on our public health contact tracing abilities. Furthermore, on November 6, we heard from metro-area hospital Chief Medical Officers that they are facing serious challenges in their ability to manage both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. At the root of this problem is not only the number of physical acute care beds in their hospital facilities, but also staffing shortages due to the rampant community spread of COVID-19 in the metro area. Hospitals have made it very clear that they need the assistance of everyone in every community to reduce the spread of the disease and improve their ability to provide life-saving medical care.
As Health Department Directors and Health Officers representing the health departments of the Kansas City region, we fully understand the impact that stay-at-home orders have on our local economy. However, COVID-19 transmission cannot continue to rage out of control in our community given the severe strain on our health and medical systems.
The region’s local governments issued stay-at-home orders in March, and gradually lifted restrictions as community actions resulted in a reduction in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Further uncontrolled spread of this disease poses a serious threat to our businesses and local economy, creates a risk for our children’s education and well-being, and forces hospitals to possibly ration care, which would have very negative health consequences for the entire community.
Our community is at a critical point again with uncontrolled community spread. Our local governments and public health authorities need to take actions aimed at controlling the further spread of the disease. Each jurisdiction will evaluate and implement specific measures according to its local process. At a minimum, those measures should include:
Therefore, we are asking all metro-area residents to do the following immediately:
We urge everyone to take these steps now to give us a chance to avoid more drastic orders. Do it for your community, for your friends and for your family.
The Medical Reserve Corps of Kansas City is a network of medical and public health volunteers, along with non-medical community members, who volunteer their skills, expertise and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and assist throughout the Greater Kansas City area during disasters and other times of community need. Medical assistance and emergency response needs are high during the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID) pandemic. Hospitals, public health departments and state resources are stressed.
Medical Reserve Corps Kansas City (MRCKC) and the Emergency Preparedness Division (EPD) of Independence believe that community resources need to be supported at this time. MRCKC has been filling in gaps for staff at testing sites across the greater Kansas City region with both its medically-trained volunteers and its logistics and traffic volunteers. MRCKC and Independence EPD are increasing recruitment of volunteers to continue to help the community respond to the virus. MRCKC invites individuals with the following profiles to join:
These are tough times for communities across the United States. Help make it easier by volunteering in your spare time with the Medical Reserve Corps of Kansas City and the City of Independence Fire Department.
Together, we can accelerate the community’s recovery!
COVID-19 Cases Increasing
The City of Independence will remain in Phase 1 of its services and facilities reopening plan through the month of August. As of August 3, Eastern Jackson County had seen a continued increase in positive COVID-19 cases for more than three weeks with a single week increase of more than 600 cases during the week of July 20. The City is working closely with the Jackson County Health Department to increase access to testing and provide regular updates related to the response to COVID-19. You can find information, resources and updates at indep.us/coronavirus.
Looking to the Future
Beginning in August 2020, the Independence City Council will be starting the strategic planning process. In the fall of 2016, the Council created the Independence For All Strategic Plan which was approved and implemented in 2017. The five-year strategic plan included many goals in four key areas -Customer Focused, Financially Sustainable, Growth and Quality. You can READ THIS PLAN and see what has been accomplished so far.
The planning process will include public engagement. Look for details to come as pieces are finalized. Citizens are encouraged to follow the City on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest information.