After more than 2 years, Unified Command team that formed to respond to COVID-19 pandemic is disbanding

photo by: Kevin Anderson/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence-Douglas County health department's home at the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine St., is pictured in this file photo from July 2010.

Story updated at 7:10 p.m. Thursday:

Douglas County’s Unified Command team, which was formed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, has met for the final time before demobilizing, the county announced Thursday.

In a social media post, the county noted that though Unified Command’s structure is demobilizing, COVID response and recovery efforts are set to continue in the community.

County spokesperson Karrey Britt told the Journal-World Thursday evening that Unified Command decided to demobilize because, for the moment, there isn’t a need for a unified facilitator of resources related to the pandemic. However, Britt said the team can and will remobilize if there’s a peak in cases or a need in the community at a level similar to earlier in the pandemic, such as in the case that the local hospital system is overwhelmed.

“We lost lives, yet we saved lives; we kept our hospital open,” Britt said. “It was a huge, tremendous effort we’ve been through in the past two years, and every community (member) has been impacted.”

Unified Command was established by Douglas County Emergency Management in March of 2020 to help with response and recovery efforts related to the pandemic, fluctuating in size depending on the community’s needs. Besides government officials from both the county and the City of Lawrence, that group has included representatives from a wide variety of county agencies: LMH Health, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, the Lawrence school district, the University of Kansas and the Lawrence chamber of commerce.

Unified Command worked collaboratively on a number of efforts, including providing resources and guidance during the state of Kansas’ stay-at-home order, COVID testing and vaccinations.


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