INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The new omicron variant of COVID-19 could be headed to Kansas City pretty quickly.
Meantime, cities continue to drop local mask mandates and federal buildings re-open, including the Harry S. Truman Museum in Independence, Missouri.
While the museum and interactive exhibit are now open, the Truman Library remains closed. FOX4 is told the research room in the library won’t be back open to the public until COVID-19 numbers go down.
There’s life once again inside the museum.
“This is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the presidential library system,” Director Dr. Kurt Graham said.
Masks are required to enter and tickets are only available online.
“There will be social distancing, only so many people per hour coming in so there can be space between visitors,” Graham said.
It’s to keep people safe as doctors keep an eye on the new COVID variant and when it will make its way to the Kansas City area.
California, Minnesota and New York have all reported cases.
Dr. Matt Shoemaker, Operations Division of Infectious Disease Director at the University of Kansas Health System said he expects to see the first local case in the next week.
“We expect it any day now,” he said. “We are still confident that the vaccine will provide protection. It may be reduced protection to some of the other variants. But its the best protection you can get.”
Beyond that, mask up and wash hands.
Visitors like Sam and Howard Goller say that’s an easy task to be able to walk a mile in Truman’s shoes, a president with family ties. For 20 years, their grandfather worked as Truman’s tailor.
“Harry Truman is buried in a suit that our grandfather made. So, to have that connection really makes it personal and it’s good to see the renovations and what’s going on here,” said Sam Goller.
It’s their first day open since summer when they had to temporarily close due to COVID and before that, they spent years working on the $30 million renovation honoring the 33rd president.
“We’re just thrilled to be to this point where we can have people in at all,” Graham said.
Aside from the new entrance, Graham said the theatres and interactive exhibits will pleasantly surprise patrons.
Shoemaker said we can learn from the delta variant on how to handle the omicron variant.
“Those people who are now being effective by the delta surge, being hospitalized ending up on mechanical ventilation and dying, 99% of those people are unvaccinated,” Shoemaker said. “So, if the one takeaway from Delta is to continue to push our efforts to make sure the entire population is vaccinated.”