Officials announce plans to handle COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019)

The Unified Government Health Department has a flier on COVID-19, the coronavirus disease 2019. (UG flier)
The Unified Government Health Department has a flier on COVID-19, the coronavirus disease 2019. (UG flier)

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19, coronavirus disease 2019, in Wyandotte County or in Kansas, according to local and state officials.

The UG Health Department, state and regional partners are continuing to monitor COVID-19, according to Dave Reno, a spokesman for the Unified Government.

The role of public health agencies includes monitoring travel from areas affected by COVID-19, he stated.

Public health agencies, including the UG Health Department, already have plans in place to address outbreaks of communicable diseases, according to Reno. They are working with partners to review the plans and ensure the community is prepared in light of the COVID-19 situation, he stated.

The best way for the community to stay up to date on COVID-19 is to look at information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment at kdheks.gov/coronavirus and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov/COVID19, Reno stated.

A spokesman for the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools, Edwin Birch, said that the school district is following the guidelines of the UG Health Department in dealing with this, and the UG Health Department is following guidelines from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

“Our plan is to work closely in contact with them, follow the rules and guidelines,” Birch said.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., supported funding for a response to the coronovirus. She issued a statement Wednesday:

“It’s essential that we have a coordinated, well-resourced government response to the coronavirus to keep Kansas communities safe,” Rep. Davids said in the statement. “That’s why I worked with my House colleagues to quickly pass a strong, bipartisan funding package that addresses the scale and severity of the public health crisis.

“This package will fully fund a robust response to coronavirus, including vaccine and treatment development, support for state, local and tribal governments – which are our first line of defense – and assistance for affected small businesses,” Rep. Davids stated. “Importantly, it helps to prevent price-gouging and ensures that vaccines and treatments for coronavirus are affordable and accessible.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday outlined a comprehensive preparedness plan for COVID-19, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“There are no confirmed cases in Kansas, but we are prepared,” Kelly said in a news release. “Currently, in Kansas, the overall risk of the virus is low, but that does not mean we can rest easy. We take this situation seriously. We can and will remain ready to respond swiftly and effectively, should the virus spread to Kansas.”

The Kelly administration is working closely with federal, state and local partners to maintain awareness of national and international trends related to the virus, according to a statement from Gov. Kelly. KDHE currently is working on Kansas-specific guidance, based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help local communities continue their preparedness efforts.

Under Gov. Kelly’s direction, KDHE and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management are:
• in constant communication with local hospitals and health departments, coordinating with local, state and federal public health partners;
• preparing for emergency management situations on a regular basis, with staff who have decades of experience in developing responses and preventative measures for any situation;
• continuing to work with federal, state and local partners to maintain awareness of national and international COVID-19 trends and strategies.

“The health and safety of every Kansan is our top priority and we are utilizing every tool at our disposal to continue monitoring the situation and ensure that we are ready to respond should that be necessary,” Kelly said. “The best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends against contracting the virus is to use good hygiene practices like washing your hands, coughing into your sleeve, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and stay home if you’re not feeling well. It’s simple, but effective.”

Kansas has tested a few suspected cases of coronavirus, with no positive results as of today, according to the governor’s news release.

“Our KDHE lab now has the capability to test for cases of COVID-19, which will expedite the test results,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said. “That means our state can respond quickly and effectively. Make no mistake — our team is experienced. They are highly trained and prepared to keep Kansans safe.”

The Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories facility, in Topeka, was one of the first in the country to be certified by the CDC to test for COVID-19. When there is a “Person Under Investigation,” KDHE coordinates with the local health department and other stakeholders such as hospitals and clinicians to help coordinate sample collection and shipping to the KDHE Lab, which cuts the testing time for suspected cases down from days to hours.

The adjutant general outlined KDEM’s preparedness efforts as part of a coordinated state response.

“We stand ready to support county emergency managers for resources and technical assistance when needed,” Kansas Adjutant Gen. Lee Tafanelli, director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, said in the news release. “We have been coordinating, planning and participating in briefings with local, state and federal partners on a daily basis. We stand ready to respond.”

Symptoms of coronavirus

Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, according to state information. These symptoms can develop 2-14 days after exposure. The symptoms can range from mild to severe – and in rare cases, have resulted in death.

If you have recently traveled to areas including China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea and have developed fever with lower respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel or have had contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. You may also call the KDHE phone hotline number.

KDHE hotline number: 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF)

Prevention

There is no current vaccine for COVID-19. However, there are ways to prevent the spread of this disease.

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Cough into your sleeve and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning products.
• Stay home when you are sick.

Additional resources

This situation is constantly evolving and changing, according to officials. For the most up-to-date information, use the following links from KDHE and the CDC:

• Kansas Department of Health and Environment, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/index.htm

• COVID-19 FAQs, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/download/Novel_coronavirus_FAQ.pdf

• COVID-19 Toolkit, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/toolkit/COVID-19_Toolkit.pdf

• COVID-19 Hospital Preparedness Assessment Tool, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/toolkit/COVID-19_Hospital_Prep_Assessment_Tool.pdf

• COVID-19 Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist for Transport and Arrival of Patients Potentially Infected with COVID-19, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/toolkit/Healthcare_Checklist_for_trans_and_arrival_of_patients.pdf

• Interim Guidance for Child Care Facilities Licensed by the KDHE, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/toolkit/Interim_Guidance_for_Child_Care_Facilities_Licensed_by_KDHE.pdf

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

• What you should know, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

• Symptoms, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

• Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

• Specific guidelines for travelers, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Roundtable discussion on Medicaid expansion

Kansas Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers listened to residents at a community roundtable discussion on Medicaid expansion held on Tuesday morning, March 3, at the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, 803 Armstrong Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. Medicaid expansion, supported by Gov. Laura Kelly, recently encountered some obstacles in the Kansas Legislature. Medicaid expansion would bring health care coverage to about 150,000 working Kansans, including some who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who don’t make enough to afford insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by William Crum)

Walk Kansas 2020 encourages healthier lives

The Walk Kansas 2020 program, held March 15 through May 9, is encouraging residents to get out and walk.

The low-cost, team-based program will focus on encouraging walking and making better nutrition choices. Participants are asked to register with the program.

Offered through the Wyandotte County K-State Research and Extension office, the Walk Kansas 2020 health initiative will log minutes of activity by a team for eight weeks.

Teams of six, with a captain, will set a goal to work toward. Participants will log their activity minutes and the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat. They can log online or on paper.

The program encourages participants to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines of at least 150 minutes a week of moderate or vigorous intensity activity. Less than half of Kansas adults currently meet minimum recommendations for physical activity.

Also, less than 10 percent of Kansans eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to health officials.

For complete details, brochures, and registration information visit the county extension website, https://www.wyandotte.k-state.edu/program_areas/health-nutrition/walk-kansas/index.html. For more information, call 913-299-9300.

  • Information from Wyandotte County Extension office