Where to find the most accurate and up-to-date COVID-19 information

By Erin Dougherty for the City of Overland Park

It seems like information about COVID-19 changes frequently, and comes to us through many channels including email, social media, websites and news outlets. 

We all want to know the best ways to protect our families from this deadly virus and what to do if we think someone has been exposed. In addition, there are so many updates related to quarantine periods, high-risk groups, symptoms, testing locations and community safety recommendations, that it can be difficult to keep straight and know if the information came from a trusted source. As vaccinations become widely available, information will continue to change about where, when and how you can access care.

Contact your family doctor or primary care provider with specific questions about COVID-19 as it relates to your family’s personal health. An October 2020 regional opinion study found that more than 84 percent of respondents said they trust their family physician as a source of information about COVID-19.

Here are some other tips to consider when searching for the most accurate and current COVID-19 information.

COVID-19 information should originate from one of these trusted sources:

  • Healthcare professionals registered with the State of Kansas
  • Trusted healthcare organizations, including local hospitals
  • Established government agencies, including local and regional health departments, or national health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health

Trusted Local Sources

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment distributes a COVID-19 update e-newsletter Monday through Friday with the most recent updates to case numbers, safety recommendations, testing locations and measures taken by local government to prevent the spread. Subscribe to email updates from the County.

JCDHE also manages a COVID-19 dashboard at jocogov.org/coronavirus, where information is updated seven days per week, by 10 a.m.

For answers to local virus-related questions, call the Johnson County Community COVID-19 Hotline. This resource is staffed by public health professionals Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 913-715-CV19.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment hosts a hotline after business hours at 877-427-7317. You can also email COVID-19 questions to KDHE health professionals at covid-19@ks.gov or start a conversation with their chatbot at kdheks.gov/coronavirus.

University of Kansas Health System hosts live COVID-19 discussions on its Facebook Page each weekday at 8 a.m. These community conversations feature information and education to help keep the community safe and informed, featuring infectious disease specialist Dr. Dana Hawkinson and chief medical officer Dr. Steve Stites.

The University of Kansas Health System also provides comprehensive COVID-19 information on its website.

The Mid-America Regional Council developed a COVID-19 dashboard to track current information throughout the wider Kansas City region, which you can find on the MARC website.

National Health Organizations

Since the start of this pandemic, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has closely monitored the outbreak. The CDC tracks and reports on domestic and international cases of COVID-19, best practices for dealing with the virus, and leads the way for recommending community safety protocols. Visit CDC.gov to learn more about the pandemic from a trusted Federal source with a global perspective.

The National Institutes of Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency, and a top source for national information about COVID-19. Check out its  website at coronavirus.org for in-depth pandemic resources, including information about where to get tested, advice about how to protect and prepare yourself for optimal health and safety, vaccine clinical trials and what to do if you think you or a family member could be sick.

There’s a massive amount of COVID-19 information out there. To be sure you’re following the best guidance, check with one of the sources above or another trusted medical expert or government health organization.

To see how coronavirus impacts Overland Park programs and services, visit opkansas.org/coronavirus.

A note from the editor:

Overland Park is working with community writers to bring you important news, information and stories regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the City’s response to coronavirus.