Published January 24th, 2022 at 9:38 AM
While there’s a lot happening in Kansas City, the Chiefs will be the biggest story in town this week.
Even though an unpredictable virus continues to sweep through the metro, “Chiefs fever” is going to be a bigger point of conversation for most people.
Last night’s nail biting overtime win against the Bills was described by some analysts as “the greatest game ever played at Arrowhead.”
But the Chiefs still have to win two more games before they can hoist the Super Bowl trophy.
The Chiefs stay at Arrowhead Stadium this weekend as they take on the Bengals in the AFC title game.
Game time is Sunday at 2 p.m.
One of the great unknowns of the week is: “What’s going to happen to our schools?”
Last week, more than a half-dozen local school districts canceled classes. In Olathe, administrators claimed they had so many students and staff sidelined by COVID that they would have needed 800 substitutes to keep the doors open.
This week, more schools are warning parents they may be forced to close temporarily, including the Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission and Park Hill school districts.
After backlash over school lockdowns at the height of the pandemic, new state laws in Kansas and Missouri now limit the ability of schools to offer online instruction.
Kansas is now joining a growing number of states calling in National Guard troops to help overburdened medical facilities struggling to keep up with this latest COVID wave. You may recall that in some states, they’re now using guard troops as school bus drivers.
Starting this week, the Kansas National Guard will begin aiding health officials at testing sites across the state and assisting with the shipment and delivery of personal protective equipment.
Missouri National Guard troops can’t be used for any COVID mission. It requires an emergency declaration from the governor to deploy those troops. Last month, Gov. Mike Parson allowed the state’s pandemic emergency order to expire.
Many people think statehouse news is a snooze. But like it or not, most of the big important decisions that affect your life and mine happen not in Washington, but in the less glamorous hallways of our two statehouses.
Here are two issues to be paying attention to this week:
In Kansas, lawmakers take up the teaching of race in schools. Later today, the House Education Committee will discuss a bill limiting what can and cannot be taught about race and racism in Kansas classrooms.
In Jefferson City, look for some last minute fireworks over redistricting amid a new push by Republicans to try and squeeze out U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.
The Senate takes up the congressional maps on Tuesday.
Last week, Kansas lawmakers coalesced around a new congressional map that would carve up U.S. Rep. Sharice David’s district. The plan removes big parts of Wyandotte County from the Kansas 3rd Congressional District, making it tougher for Davids to win reelection.
The White House is calling it the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.
Starting this week, the Biden administration will begin distributing 400 million N95 masks to all Americans.
Federal health officials insist the upgraded masks are essential to protecting Americans from the omicron variant.
So how can you get one of these free masks?
Unlike the free COVID tests the government began offering via a designated website, you’re going to have to pick these up yourself.
The White House says the masks will be available for pick-up at pharmacies and local community health agencies. In fact, pretty much all the same places that have been offering the COVID vaccine.
Major pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens have confirmed that their stores will have masks to hand out by mid-week. But they warn supplies will be limited, at least for now.
How many masks can you have?
According to the White House, three free N95 masks will be available for every adult. But it’s unclear how the government will track who has picked up their allotment of masks. It’s also unclear how they plan to stop unscrupulous folks from driving to multiple locations and hoarding the free masks, even reselling them online. Can’t you see that coming?
By the way, your kids will have to wait for their masks. There’s a national shortage of kid-size N95s and the government says those masks will be included in a later phase of the distribution program.
Also worth watching is how this shift in federal health policy will impact future mask mandates in our metro.
If the federal government now says cloth face coverings aren’t sufficient to protect you from COVID transmission, does it undermine the health reasons for masking up? Would any new mask mandate require local residents to wear N95s? That would be a challenging task. It could take months before the free masks are in the hands of every American.
Are you observing “Dry January?” Or are you always up for a crafty IPA or well-balanced Belgian blonde?
This week, you’re in luck. Nearly 50 breweries and dozens of food trucks converge on Union Station for KC Brew Fest.
The one-day event is this Saturday. Organizers claim you’ll get to taste “120 hand-picked craft beers from around the world.”
With so much uncertainty in the news, this could be the cure for what “ales” you.
Get the details at kansascitybrewfest.com.
If hoisting pints of ale isn’t your thing you can head to the Kansas City Zoo for the Penguin Parade.
Did you know that now through the end of February you can join the zoo’s more than 80 penguins on a march around the animal park?
Waddling along with the penguins is free with your regular Zoo admission.
You can join the tuxedoed seabirds as they stretch their little legs this upcoming Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m.
If COVID still leaves you cautious about leaving your home, the zoo has a high-definition camera set up to watch the penguins for free.
Blow up the balloons, get ready to light a lot of candles on the cake and perhaps uncork something strong and bubbly. We’ve got a big holiday to celebrate this week.
It’s Kansas Day.
What? You don’t celebrate it?
What do you mean you don’t care?
What kind of Kansan are you?
On Saturday, the state of Kansas turns 161 years old. That’s how long it’s been since Kansas entered the Union as the country’s 34th state. That’s a full 40 years after Missouri. So it’s possible Kansas can justifiably call itself “younger and hipper” than its easterly neighbor.
Even if you don’t think Kansas Day is a big deal, it’s clear others do. Believe it or not, I’ve received at least nine news releases from various public agencies telling me of the events and festivities they’ve got planned.
I, for one, will be whistling “Home on the Range” around the hallways of our TV station this week. If you weren’t aware, that’s the official Kansas state song.
How will you be celebrating?
Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.