First case of COVID-19 identified in Douglas County, health department says

photo by: Associated Press

Hawaii state Department of Health microbiologist Mark Nagata demonstrates the process for testing a sample for coronavirus at the department's laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaii on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Story updated at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday

Public health officials have identified the first case of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in Douglas County, the local health department announced Tuesday afternoon in a news release.

The case involves a man in his 20s who recently traveled from Florida, according to the release from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

“So far in our disease investigation, we have found once the patient became symptomatic, he implemented good public health practices, including getting tested at a drive-through clinic in Shawnee County,” health department spokesman George Diepenbrock said.

The patient is currently isolated and has not been hospitalized, he added.

The department “is working to identify any close contacts of the individual, and those who were exposed will be contacted as soon as possible,” the release said. “We will be monitoring them for fever and respiratory symptoms.”

As the Journal-World reported Tuesday morning, the health department also ordered an eight-week halt to gatherings of 50 people or more, and it recommended against gatherings with more than 10 people for the same period. The health department announced Friday that it was closing all county schools until at least the end of the month. The University of Kansas on Tuesday also announced it would not resume in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester.

“Given the number of cases elsewhere in Kansas and in the United States, we have been working diligently with our local partners to prepare for a positive case here,” LDCPH Director Dan Partridge said in the release. “This confirms what we’ve thought for days now — that coronavirus is in our community, and we need to continue to take appropriate action.”

Tests sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment identified the Douglas County man’s positive case, according to the news release.

Several other cases have been reported around the state, with a majority in Johnson County. As of a 3 p.m. update from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there were 16 total confirmed cases in Kansas — 10 in Johnson County, three in Wyandotte, and one each in Butler, Douglas and Franklin counties. Two other people from out of state tested positive in Ford and Miami counties, but they are included in the tallies for their home states, KDHE said. There has been one confirmed death from COVID-19 in Kansas.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health notes on its website that even patients without symptoms should self-quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to a country with a CDC travel advisory or a state with a community spread of coronavirus in the last 14 days.

Patients who have symptoms should call their health care provider and should always call before showing up at any physician’s office.

If patients do not have health care providers, they may call the health department’s coronavirus line, 785-856-4343.

For updated information on the outbreak, Kansas residents can email or call 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF), which is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is accessible to non-English speakers.

More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at:

What to do if you think you may have COVID-19

Patients who have symptoms — difficulty breathing, cough and fever — should stay home, immediately isolate themselves from others and call their health care providers. Patients should never show up unannounced at a medical office or hospital. Instead, they should call ahead to explain their symptoms and give health care workers the ability to minimize the risk to others.

If patients do not have health care providers, they may call the Lawrence Douglas-County health department’s coronavirus line, 785-856-4343.

For updated information on the outbreak, Kansas residents can email or call 866-534-3463 (866-KDHEINF), which is staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

More information can be found through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website or the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health website.


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