The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is confirming three presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Kansas.
The possible cases were identified with testing sent to KDHE’s Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL). KHEL, which is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to perform COVID-19 testing, found presumptive-positive results. These results will be verified by the CDC lab but will be treated as a positive unless determined otherwise.
The cases are in Johnson County and involve three people who attended the same conference in Florida. It is believed they contracted COVID-19 in Florida, according to KDHE.
They were not symptomatic when traveling home and sought care once they began feeling ill, according to the KDHE spokesman. KDHE continues to work with the local health department and CDC to identify and contact people who may have come into contact with the individual while they were infectious and will monitor them for fever and respiratory symptoms, the spokesman stated.
The patients are all males and in isolation. These cases are not connected to the earlier case in Johnson County, the spokesman stated. No other information will be provided about the patients.
“Right now, there is no community spread,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary, said. “The cases in Kansas are here because of transmission elsewhere. However, Kansans should remain vigilant. It’s important to live your lives, but it’s also important to take basic precautions like exercising good hygiene practices. It is up to each of us to do our part.”
“Kansas is working alongside local and federal public health partners in addressing presumptive positive cases in our state, and the potential spread of the virus,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “It is our highest priority to keep all Kansans healthy and safe. Everyone should continue to practice safe habits such as hand washing and staying home when sick. The KDHE website, www.kdheks.gov, has daily updates and other resources to keep Kansans educated on COVID-19.”
People should exercise vigilance when attending large public gatherings, particularly those people over age 60 and those with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions. There are mass events guidance documents from the Centers from Disease Control available on KDHE’s website, www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.
If you have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath and believe you may have had contact 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 bank at 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF) today Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information about COVID-19, visit KDHE’s website and Frequently Asked Questions at www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/ and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Health officials today said that a COVID-19 patient has been admitted at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, and they urged residents not to panic but to take steps to be responsible for themselves.
“To stay safe, the best thing we can do is what we do ourselves,” said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System.
And that included fairly simple things, he said: Wash your hands really well, cough into your elbow, clean off surfaces, and if you are ill, stay home. Face masks are not recommended unless the patient is sick.
“You own your own preparedness,” Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, said.
Dr. Stites said the COVID-19 patient was isolated and has been placed in a special unit at KU Hospital designed for emerging infections, to protect the patient and all staff, patients and visitors.
The family members of the patient at KU Hospital are under voluntary quarantine, according to health officials.
Over the weekend, there was an announcement from state officials that one Johnson County person had tested positive for COVID-19.
While health officials today did not talk about personal information about the patient at KU Hospital, Dr. Norman said there was currently only one patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state of Kansas.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of inpatient critical care, infectious diseases, at KU Health Services, said those who are at home and showing symptoms of the coronavirus-19, if they need a higher level of care, should call their primary care provider first. Some of the symptoms could be a cough, fever and shortness of breath.
A telephone call gives the provider the opportunity to be prepared for the patient’s visit, and also, the primary care provider can tell the patient what step to take next. If the patient needs emergency care, the patient may call 911.
Dr. Norman said patients also could call their county health department to help expedite matters.
Dr. Stites also said any hospital should be equipped to handle infectious disease cases such as COVID-19.
Dr. Norman said there is no community spread of the COVID-19 in Kansas at this time, but it probably would get worse in Kansas in the next few weeks, and that the state is prepared.
Dr. Hawkinson said KU Hospital has had procedures and protocols in place for years to handle infectious diseases. The health officials added that KU Hospital handles other infectious diseases every day.
He said some of the people who get the COVID-19 virus do not have any symptoms, some are mildly ill, while a small number become severely ill.
Older patients 50 and older, especially 70 and older, and patients who have underlying health conditions are more at risk of progressive disease, he said.
The KDHE is testing from four to six Kansas cases a day for COVID-19, Dr. Norman said. About 80 people in Kansas are currently being monitored on voluntary isolation or voluntary quarantine, according to Dr. Norman, but they are not confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Testing is not yet available at local labs or in doctors’ offices, but Dr. Norman said he expected that tests for COVID-19 would become commercially available in the next week or two.
Dr. Norman said he had been in communication with the vice president, and learned that development of vaccines and antivirals are in process, and probably will not be available for six to 12 months.
More information about COVID-19 is at the KDHE website at http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/index.htm.
The Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html.
To see a video of today’s news conference at KU Hospital, visit https://twitter.com/KUHospitalNews.
For more information from KU Health Systems, see https://www.medicalnewsnetwork.org/NewsNetwork/DocTalk/C/Patient%20with%20COVID-19%20Admitted%20to%20The%20University%20of%20Kansas%20Hospital
State health secretary Lee Norman at a press conference Saturday confirming the first known case of Covid-19 coronavirus in Kansas. (Photo by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service)
by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service
Topeka, Kansas — Kansas has its first case of the new coronavirus, officials announced Saturday.
The Johnson County woman infected with the virus appears to have contracted her illness while traveling in the northeastern United States, state and local public health officials said at a Statehouse news conference early Saturday evening. She was tested earlier this week for COVID-19.
Although the woman marks the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Kansas, she was among 80 people in Kansas being monitored for the infection. Most are being monitored because they traveled to other countries where the virus is spreading most quickly.
“There is currently no evidence of widespread transmission of Covid-19 in Johnson County or the Kansas City metro area,” said Mary Beverly, the interim director of the Johnson County Health Department. “The risk to residents remains low. However, this situation is evolving and remains subject to change.”
Using testing approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the results of the test on the Johnson County woman were presumed positive. Now the CDC will double-check that diagnosis with its own testing.
The woman remains isolated at her home, while the Kansas Department of Health and Environment works with local officials to track whom she may have had contact with. The only description given of the patient is her gender and that she is younger than 50 years old.
“We feel very confident she’s going to go ahead and isolate herself at home,” Beverly said.
The woman developed symptoms consistent with Covid-19 on March 1, and went to a doctor the next day or the day after.
“This individual did everything right. When symptoms started, they used a mask and then self-isolated,” Beverly said. Masks can be effective when worn by infected people to stop spreading the virus to others. But mask wearers do not get much protection. “They notified their physician before going into the doctor’s office so that others would not be infected.”
Kansas health officials said earlier this week that the state’s lab could test up to 60 samples a day and have results back in a few hours. The new case comes as the United States is seeing an increasing number of confirmed cases as testing ramps up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s U.S. count is more than 150 cases in about half of U.S. states, with more than 10 deaths; The New York Times reported more than 350 cases with 19 deaths. COVID-19 has sickened more than 105,000 people worldwide, and more than 3,500 people have died.
State health officials said the scale of the spread of the virus meant Kansas was bound to see a case.
“We predicted this. And here we are,” KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said. “So, not a great surprise and we’re taking it all in stride.”
State officials say they are monitoring people in the state who recently traveled to coronavirus hotspots China or South Korea. Norman said Italy could soon be added to that list.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and trouble breathing. The symptoms are usually mild, though more severe symptoms may include pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Federal and state health officials say the best ways to prevent getting sick from the virus are to thoroughly wash your hands, cover your coughs and stay home from work or school if you are sick.
KDHE has a website dedicated to information about COVID-19, http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/ .
Gov. Laura Kelly said Saturday there is little reason for people to worry about a confirmed case appearing in Kansas.
“No one should panic over this new virus or this confirmed case,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “Kansas still is considered at low risk for spread of the virus.”
Jim McLean is the senior correspondent for the Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks or email jim (at) kcur (dot) org.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org. See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/first-case-coronavirus-kansas-confirmed-johnson-county