Outbreak of COVID-19 confirmed at The Hawk; country club employee also tests positive

photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from Dec. 7, 2017, The Jayhawk Cafe — aka The Hawk — sits at the corner of 13th and Ohio streets.

Updated at 5:07 p.m. Friday

The Jayhawk Cafe was confirmed as a site of a COVID-19 outbreak on Friday, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health said in a news release.

Several people who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 reported being present at the Lawrence bar at 1340 Ohio St., also known as The Hawk, on either Friday, June 19, or Saturday, June 20. The bar, near the University of Kansas campus, is popular with college students.

“We’d ask anyone who was there last weekend to monitor for potential COVID-19 symptoms. We believe the source of exposure for some of these cases occurred before they visited The Hawk, but we would consider them contagious during this time frame,” Informatics Director Sonia Jordan said in the release. “We are not confident in being able to identify everyone who was there and might have come in close contact with people who were contagious, so we have released this information.”

Patrons who visited The Hawk last weekend are asked to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, the health department said.

Attempts to reach The Hawk by phone on Friday were not successful, and The Hawk did not immediately respond to a request for comment by email.

In response to a question regarding whether or not The Hawk will be open this weekend, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health spokesman George Diepenbrock said that question needed to be directed to the bar.

The release stated that owners of The Hawk have been in touch with the health department about best practices and guidelines for health and safety.

On Thursday, the Journal-World reported that both the state and county health departments declined requests from the Journal-World to detail where the departments had confirmed outbreaks of the respiratory virus.

Both agencies cited an exemption in the law shielding records that, if disclosed, “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” The requests asked only for the locations of confirmed outbreaks, not any information about people infected.

Diepenbrock said that the site of the bar outbreak was identified because the health department was not able to successfully identify all potential close contacts.

“(We) are releasing the site of the outbreak so that individuals who were there last weekend can be alerted to monitor themselves for symptoms,” he wrote in an email.

The health department recommends that those in a public indoor space wear masks and maintain 6 feet of social distance from others.

Also on Friday, Aaron Webber, the general manager of the Lawrence Country Club, confirmed that an employee of the country club had tested positive for COVID-19. Webber declined to offer further details.

Douglas County has reported 124 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, local officials said Friday — an increase of 19 cases since Wednesday.

In Douglas County, 89 out of the 124 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have recovered, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health said in its daily update.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 5,696 Douglas County residents have been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 46.6.

No patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Friday.

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