COVID-19 cluster emerges at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor; Douglas County releases school reopening recommendations

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Aug. 17 COVID-19 update from the health department

Updated at 7:39 p.m. Monday

News emerged Monday of another cluster of COVID-19 cases at a Lawrence long-term care facility, while health department leaders also announced details of how K-12 schools in Douglas County can conduct classes during the pandemic.

Lawrence Presbyterian Manor will begin testing all residents after one employee and three residents tested positive for COVID-19, according to the facility.

Meanwhile, the local health department also released information from the Education Unified Command concerning reopening recommendations for schools. With a current infection rate of just over 4% in Douglas County, the county is just below the level for schools to fully reopen. At that level, the health department allows for athletic competitions.

Cluster at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor

Lawrence Presbyterian Manor announced its positive cases in a press release Monday.

After an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 12, the close contacts of that employee — 10 residents and four employees — were also tested for the virus, the facility said in the release. Three residents tested positive, bringing the total to four cases in the past seven days.

Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, located at 1429 Kasold Drive, is now considered to have a COVID-19 cluster, the press release stated. This week, all health care and assisted living residents, as well as campus employees, a total of around 130 people, will be tested for COVID-19.

Residents who tested positive for COVID-19 will be in isolation in a designated COVID-19 area and will be treated by a COVID-19 Response Team, according to the release. Asymptomatic positive residents will quarantine for 14 days. Symptomatic residents may leave isolation 72 hours when their symptoms have improved, after reporting no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and so long as at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

Last week, the Journal-World reported that six residents and seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at Pioneer Ridge Health & Rehab. In mid-July, long-term care facility Brandon Woods at Alvamar had five cases of COVID-19.

School reopening guidelines from Education Unified Command

On Monday, the Education Unified Command released recommendations about reopening schools. The recommendations include that schools should be remote-only with no extracurriculars or sports if the percent of positive cases in the county is above 10%. When the local infection rate is lower than 5%, schools can begin hosting fully in-person classes or continue with a hybrid in-person and remote model, which decreases the amount of students in school buildings at one time.

Currently, the infection rate is slightly more than 4%, according to the health department. But if the rate increases to more than 5%, the recommendations call for schools to conduct classes through the hybrid option. It also allows for sports practices to continue but recommends barring games for some “high-risk” sports, such as football and soccer.

Most schools in Douglas County will not open until September. Perry-Lecompton, however, is slated to begin on Wednesday, and will begin the school year with its hybrid option, according to the school district’s website. Additionally, the Lawrence school board chose to start the school year with six weeks of fully remote learning, meaning it won’t consider moving to an in-person or hybrid learning option outlined in the guidance until mid-October.

On Monday, Douglas County reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday at 2 p.m., bringing the total since the pandemic began to 836.

In Douglas County, 126 out of the 836 total cases are active, according to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

The county has averaged about 10 new cases per day over the last 14 days, according to a 14-day moving average graph updated weekdays by the health department. The health department changed its graph from a seven-day moving average to a 14-day moving average to match the metric used in the school reopening guidance. At its height, the 14-day average was about 22 cases per day in early to mid-July. The current average of 10 cases per day is up slightly from a recent low of about nine cases per day in early August.

Ten patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Monday, five more than Friday. An update from LMH Health said the hospital is once more planning for a possible surge.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 14,954 Douglas County residents had been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 122.3.


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