COVID-19 cases in Kansas top 200

Statewide COVID-19 cases in Kansas increased to a total 202 on Friday morning. (KDHE graphic)

Wyandotte County cases increase to 43

COVID-19 cases in Kansas have increased to 202 on Friday morning, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said in a news conference on Friday that Kansas is beginning to see COVID-19 spread to more counties throughout the state.

Wyandotte County was reported at 43 cases Friday morning, compared to 34 cases reported Thursday morning, an increase of 13 cases. The total increased to 46 by Friday evening, according to the UG’s website.

The third COVID-19 related death in Wyandotte County was reported Thursday evening.

Johnson County reported 66 cases on Friday morning, as compared to 59 cases on Thursday morning, according to KDHE statistics.

Sedgwick County, including the Wichita area, reported 20 cases Friday morning, while Douglas County, including the Lawrence area, reported 14 cases. Leavenworth County reported 12 cases. Shawnee County had 5 cases.

As expected, the population centers, Johnson, Wyandotte, Douglas and Sedgwick counties, have had the most cases at this point, Dr. Norman said. But it is spreading out now, even into western Kansas, he added.

He said he was hopeful that the peak would be reached by mid-April, perhaps by April 24.

He said residents need to stay home and maintain social distancing. If they do that, then perhaps the coronavirus will peak in mid-April.

“Vigilance needs to remain high,” he said.

He said he saw some residents washing their cars at a car wash in Shawnee County, and that was not a necessary function.

“This is not about gaming the system and playing with the words to skate around the exemptions,” he said. “It’s about staying home and staying out of harm’s way.”

Currently Kansas is not doubling every three ofr four days, which is encouraging, according to Dr. Norman. He would not be surprised if the state had 900 to 1,000 patients eventually. It would be a higher number if the residents do not follow the guidance of staying home and social distancing.

He said some have indicated the changing of the seasons and warmer weather also could contribute to a fall in the disease rate, however, it could be back in the fall.

The state’s lab is getting more equipment this weekend to allow to to test more, he said. Friday’s results showed 135 private lab positive tests and 67 state lab positive tests.

The state lab now is able to handle about 175 specimens a day, he said.

There are efforts underway for more testing in different locations, he said.

KDHE also receive two semis full of protective equipment from the national stockpile and will be able to fill requests from 25 counties for more equipment, he added. The state will soon tap out its entire allotment, and will be looking for ways to get more supplies in the future, including possibly companies that would manufacture it.

At another news teleconference on Friday, doctors at the University of Kansas Health System emphasized the importance of staying home, and they also talked about increasing telehealth visits with patients.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, said that Chinese medical professionals have reported that those health care workers who used proper personal protective equipment did not catch COVID-19. He said that was important to know as local health officials now believe they are on the ascending side of the curve in the Kansas City area.

If the Kansas City area has a 5 to 20 percent surge in cases, then they will be well prepared, he said.

“New York got stretched because they had so many people hit so fast,” he said.

The difference in activity rate accounts for some of the larger numbers of New York cases, Dr. Stites believes.

“It’s all about staying at home,” Dr. Stites said. “If people will stay at home,” he said. “then you will flatten the curve and have enough personal protective equipment. If we don’t, we’re all going to suffer the consequences of that.”

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said there are 18 positive COVID-19 patients currently at the hospital, including 10 in the intensive care unit, and six are incubated.

He said they are stressing training and good hand hygiene. Proper hand hygiene and keeping hands away from the face continue to be effective ways to stop the spread of the disease.

Dr. Keith Sale, vice president of ambulatory services at KU Health System, said the health system is ramping up telemedicine to serve outpatients. They will be able to stay at home and stay safe while still receiving medical advice through video conferences or through other means such as the telephone.

To view the KDHE news conference, with more detailed information, visit

To view the KU Health System news conference video, with more detailed information, visit

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at

The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at

COVID-19 information from the CDC is at

COVID-19 cases by county in Kansas on March 27. (KDHE chart)

Third Wyandotte County death related to COVID-19 reported; Health Department trying to get ahead of pandemic

Wyandotte County now has a third death related to COVID-19 and a new total of 37 positive cases, according to Terrie Garrison, interim director of the Unified Government Health Department.

She made her report at the 6 p.m. Thursday meeting of the UG Board of Health at City Hall. The numbers of patients were updated from earlier in the day.

Garrison said the Health Department staff has worked hard to get ahead of the pandemic in Wyandotte County.

“It’s only been 14 days since the very first case of COVID-19 hit Wyandotte County, and there have been so many strides taken in such a very short amount of time,” she said.

Nineteen of the cases had to be hospitalized, according to Garrison.

The Health Department set up a self-report website for Wyandotte County residents, where individuals can report their symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.

Within 24 hours, medical students and residents get in contact with the individuals who have self-reported, she said. They assess the symptoms and decide if it is probably COVID-19, she said.

There are currently 37 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases here, and another 37 probable cases out of the 84 that were self-reported, she said.

The Health Department also is monitoring the spread with the self-reports because they are not getting as heavy testing as they would have liked at first, she added. The self-reports are allowing them to monitor the epidemiological spread in the county of the possible cases, she said. When the COVID-19 outbreak started here, there was a shortage of tests.

The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, reported this morning that they had 27 tests that were pending, 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the hospital, including four in intensive care unit and two on ventilators, Garrison said.

“We are continuing to do contact investigations with all of our known positives, as well as finding out who they’ve been in contact with, where those contacts have been, and trying to do the self-quarantining individuals who have a possibility of having the COVID,” she said.

Dr. Allen Greiner, who issued the stay-at-home orders on Tuesday for Wyandotte County, said he and other staff were pleased with the results.

They have received many questions about the orders, and the police department now has put up a full-time call-in line from businesses to determine what are essential activities and essential businesses, he said. Many have asked if they needed to carry some sort of letter, and he has told people they won’t be stopped if it is necessary.

It is something they want people to evaluate for themselves and their businesses and make smart decisions to protect their customers, clients, employees, families and themselves, as well as the community at large, he said.

He said the Health Department went out to visit funeral homes Thursday, after being asked questions, and the department is offering guidance.

In answer to a commissioner’s question, Dr. Greiner said that mortuary services have to continue, but the Health Department wants to have only a maximum of 10 persons in a funeral home for a service. He said one funeral director asked a large number of family members in a parking lot to disperse, to keep the number under 10.

Other facilities wanted to rotate with 10 persons coming in, then going out after a short while, with another 10 coming in.

“We made it clear it was not appropriate under the order,” he said. He added that would expose a lot of people to risk.

Dr. Greiner said they will be working in the next day or two to get a guidance document completed, so that all the funeral services will have the same guidelines.

“The primary thing we’re trying to avoid with all this is what we’re hearing is happening in New York, where the health care system just gets completely overwhelmed,” he said.

He said there are lot of serious cases coming out of a small number of total cases, and they know this community is vulnerable, so they have been working closely with both hospitals here. Pre-planning at both hospitals has been really strong, he said. There are fears about whether there will be adequate personal protective equipment, he said.

“But if we can keep the numbers down as we hope to with the stay-at-home order, there should be capacity to take care of the sick folks that need it,” Dr. Greiner said.

He said there has been good movement the last four to five days to increase testing capacity in Wyandotte County and two hospitals. The Health Department is trying to assist and get more drive-through testing started, he said.

KU Hospital started testing in its own labs two days ago, he said, which is helping to reduce their backlogs. They were previously sending tests out and waiting about four days to get results back. That became a problem, as they were using a lot of the disposable personal protective equipment, which has been in scarce supply, while waiting four days. Now the turnaround is about 10 to 12 hours with their own lab, he said.

He added there are plans to launch a downtown testing site. They will pursue some grant funding from local foundations.

In answer to a question, Dr. Greiner said KU Hospital reported that 80 to 90 percent of the tests the past two weeks had come back negative.

Dr. Greiner said that Dr. Erin Corriveau, from KU Medical Center, has been helping the past 10 days.

Juliann Van Liew, planning and operations manager at the Health Department, said the UG Health Department has developed a website with information for residents and businesses.

It has a section for Wyandotte County residents to self-report symptoms. She said many residents said they appreciate a call within 24 hours from a person that provides them with some guidance on what to do.

The UG also has a section for persons to report a need for food. Some patients with COVID-19 symptoms are isolating at home and cannot go out to get food, and other persons have lost jobs and cannot afford it. The requests will be funneled to Cross-Lines Community Outreach agency and volunteers will start taking food to those who need it on Friday, she said. Other agencies may get involved in the assistance effort, also.

Those who want to volunteer or donate funds may also leave their names on a section of the website. That information will be funneled to agencies in the community.

The UG launched a “dashboard” page on its COVID-19 site with updates, a map and a graph earlier Thursday, and it will be updated every evening, she said.

Dr. Erin Corriveau said they had heard from the 211 telephone line that calls are up about 300 percent.

Cross-Lines has reported they were usually helping 35 families before COVID-19 and now they are assisting about 160 families.

“That increase is real and we’re seeing that now,” she said. “There s a real concern for the supply of food.”

They are asking for donations and writing grants to get funds for food for people in the community, she said.

The Health Department also is working with multiple homeless agencies including the Greater Kansas City Committee to End Homelessness to secure a quarantine facility where homeless individuals who may be positive for coronavirus can stay there safely, away from others, and not pass the virus on, she said. The shelter would have about 50 beds with showers. A formal proposal has been written, she said.

Last week it was rare to get a call, but there is currently a big uptick in calls for shelter space, she added.

Janell Friesen, public information officer for the Health Department, reported the UG is trying to get the word out in different ways about COVID-19, including through the news outlets, the UG newsletter, social media, videos, and other methods. In the future they are considering sending out a postcard to reach residents. Fliers, posters and cards also are being produced.

Besides information, the UG’s COVID-19 website is posting employment with a link to the Workforce Partnership, as many persons have lost jobs or have fewer hours, she said.

Individuals may access more information about the stay-home orders through the frequently asked questions pages on the website, she said. The orders also are posted there.

At the 7 p.m. meeting, the UG Commission approved a resolution allowing the UG administrator or the chief medical officer to appoint one or more deputy medical officers in response to COVID-19.

To see a video with more information from this UG meeting, visit

The UG COVID-19 page is at

Number of COVID-19 cases in Kansas increases to 168

A map on the UG website showed more COVID-19 positive cases in the northwest and north central part of Wyanodtte County. According to information on the map, the Zip Codes in blue each had less than 5 cases, and so numbers for them were not reported. (UG COVID-19 website)
A graph showed the number of cases rising in Wyandotte County. (UG COVID-19 website)

Wyandotte County cases rise to 34

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Kansas increased from 126 on March 25 to 168 on March 26, according to a report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Positive cases in Wyandotte County increased from 27 on Wednesday to 34 on Thursday, according to the 11 a.m. KDHE report. Nineteen Wyandotte County patients were hospitalized, according to the UG website. Most patients have recovered; there were two deaths associated with COVID-19 in Wyandotte County.

The UG’s COVID-19 website reported cases by Zip Code, with 8 cases in 66109, 6 cases in 66112 and 9 cases in 66104. The other Zip Code areas of Wyandotte County had less than 5 per area, and so numbers were not reported.

Johnson County’s total of positive COVID-19 cases went from 44 on Wednesday to 59 on Thursday, the report stated.

In Sedgwick County, the Wichita area, the total was 11 on Wednesday and 16 on Thursday, according to the report.

Leavenworth County now is at 12 total cases, and it was 11 on Wednesday. Douglas County, including the Lawrence area, went from 10 cases on Wednesday to 13 on Thursday.

According to state statistics, 90 of the positive cases were males and 78 were females. Patients were 7 to 90 years old, with the median age at 54. Around 4.5 percent of those persons who were tested, and all of them were ill, were positive for COVID-19, officials said on Wednesday.

“We are on the curve and how big that curve grows is entirely in the public’s hands,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said during a teleconference on Thursday.

“There is no question that shelter at home works,” Dr. Stites said.

He cited New Rochelle, N.Y., which had 108 cases around March 12, started shutting down the city, and was at 200 cases two days ago. The prediction is this disease is doubling every two or three days, and they might have been at 1,000 if they hadn’t sheltered at home.

“We can do this, we can bend the curve,” he said. “We don’t want to be New York City, we want to be KC.”

He said he noticed 10-15 people gathered at a park last night, and wanted to tell them to stay home. Don’t go out in groups unless absolutely necessary, he said.

KU Hospital had 16 patients who were positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, he said, with eight or nine on mechanical ventilation.

“The numbers are increasing. We are on the front edge of the surge,” Dr. Stites said.

“In order to be successful and to beat COVID, which we can do, the most important player in this game is you,” he said. “It’s the people who are listening or reading and making the decision, do I stay at home. If you choose yes, we will bend that curve, and if you choose no, we will struggle. So the choice is what we do and what we make every day.”

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the KU Health System, said he also saw a group of people last night, with the police trying to get a group dispersed and go back to their homes.

“People who continue to congregate and fail to stay home or maintain six feet apart are being irresponsible,” Dr. Hawkinson said.

In Wyandotte County, it is permissible under the “stay-home” ordinance to go to the parks and exercise, run or walk, keeping about six feet apart. Groups of 10 or more are prohibited.

“It was the police who were out there trying to get those people dispersed and back to their homes,” Dr. Hawkinson said. “It’s good to be out, but we don’t want the mass gatherings, because that’s how this virus is spread. We need to protect our first responders, including our police officers, because they’re the ones that do protect us. If we can stop the spread overall, we can stop the spread to our first responders, and that is the main goal of why we are trying to decrease the social gathering, to stay at home and stop the spread of this virus right now.”

Dr. Chad Cannon, Emergency Department chair at KU Health System, said he wanted to thank people for not coming in unnecessarily to the Emergency Department at KU Hospital. They continue to take care of the people having heart attacks, accidents and strokes, he said.

“We want to continue to have the capacity and the people to continue to take care of those folks, and we need to keep folks who are just concerned, but don’t have symptoms, out of the health care environment and home,” he said.

Those who have the COVID-19 serious symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should call their health care providers first, he said.

Dr. Cannon said people should call their physician if they have shortness of breath, also if they have chest pain. If they are weak and fatigued and feel they are going to pass out, if they have altered mental state or confusion and slurred speech, they should consider the Emergency Department, he said. If they have a runny nose or cough without more severe symptoms, it doesn’t mean they don’t have coronavirus, but they should isolate themselves, call their physician and get further advice, before going anywhere, he said.

“We’re ready for this if the surge does come, and hopeful that if you heed this good advice, that the surge will be manageable and that we can flatten the curve,” he said.

Besides staying at home, doctors have stressed good hygiene practices, washing hands, covering a cough and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.

Dr. Stites also said he was hearing reports that health care workers at a large hospital in Wuhan, China, who had adequate personal protective equipment were staying healthy. COVID-19 spread to health care workers before they put in the protective equipment requirements, but afterward, they did not have a single case in the past six weeks, he said. The personal protective equipment requirements were the same used at KU Health System, he said.

Health care workers can still get COVID-19 in community spread, he said, but he doesn’t think they are getting the virus at the hospital.

At this time, KU Health System has adequate personal protective equipment, but they don’t know if it will be adequate in the next week or 10 days.

Some areas, such as New York, are short on protective equipment. Kansas City doesn’t want to go in that direction, Dr. Stites said.

To view the KU Health System news conference video, with more detailed information, visit

The Kansas COVID-19 website is at

The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at

COVID-19 information from the CDC is at

A KDHE map showed the location of COVID-19 cases in Kansas. (KDHE map)
A KDHE graph showed COVID-19 cases, with total cases in blue and new cases in green. (KDHE graph)
The KDHE on March 26 listed the total number of COVID-19 cases by county. (KDHE chart)