Confirmed coronavirus U.S. count remains at 5; Lawrence schools, KU clinic release statements in wake of potential Lawrence case

photo by: Chris Conde

Lawrence Memorial Hospital, October 2018.

Story updated at 4:43 p.m. Wednesday:

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States remains at five, according to numbers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated Wednesday. The site still lists Kansas as having no confirmed cases of the virus.

The Journal-World reported Tuesday that LMH Health announced that it had a patient with a potential case of coronavirus and that a sample was sent to the CDC for testing on Tuesday.

In the U.S., there are currently 92 pending cases and 68 cases that have been deemed negative for the virus. The CDC notes that the numbers it reports are closed out the previous day at 7 p.m.

Neither LMH Health nor the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would provide the age of the Lawrence patient.

KDHE spokeswoman Kristi Pankratz did confirm that the patient is male, but said she was “unable to go into more details including age” in order to “protect patient confidentiality.”

The New York Times has reported that the first patient to have a confirmed case of the virus in the United States was a man from Washington in his 30s.

And Arizona State University announced on Sunday the confirmation of a case of coronavirus in the ASU community.

On Tuesday, Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis put out a statement about the possible LMH case that said, “We have no information about this patient being associated with anyone in the Lawrence Public Schools.”

Lewis then noted some details about the virus and shared some healthy practices to help prevent the spread of illness, such as hand washing, getting a flu shot and avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Watkins Health Services at the University of Kansas put out a notice on Tuesday, saying it was working closely with the KDHE and community partners to monitor the potential case of coronavirus.

Watkins’ notice did not include a line similar to Lewis’ noting that the center has no information about the patient being associated with anyone at KU.

The notice does instruct anyone who has developed fever or respiratory symptoms and who has recently traveled to Wuhan, China — the city in which the virus originated — to stay home and contact a health care provider.

KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson sent the Journal-World the link to the Watkins Health Services notice. She did not answer questions from the Journal-World and said to direct all questions to KDHE.

The Journal-World had asked Barcomb-Peterson how many KU international students are from Wuhan, if any KU students traveled to China for study abroad trips over winter break and if KU is considering sending students home who may be in study abroad programs in China.

According to KU’s study abroad website, the program offers a spring study abroad opportunity in Wuhan, China, at Huazhong Normal University. KU also offers Chinese study abroad programs at Nanjing University, in Nanjing, Nankai University, in Tianjin, and Beijing Normal University, in Beijing.

Some colleges and universities have announced travel bans to China or have decided to postpone the start of Chinese spring study abroad programs, according to an article from Inside Higher Ed. On Tuesday, Arizona State University announced a travel restriction to China for all university faculty, staff and students.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the death toll has risen to 132 in China, with 6,078 confirmed cases of the virus, surpassing the number of SARS infections in China during the 2002-2003 epidemic.

On Wednesday, KU’s Center for East Asian Studies canceled its Lunar New Year celebration out of respect for those dealing with the situation in China.

“As much as I would like to hold the event, I also want this to be a fun and stress free celebration,” wrote the center’s director, John Kennedy.


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