Kansas reporting at least 18 cases of COVID-19 in state

photo by: Associated Press

A billboard along Interstate 35 displays tips to help people prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus Monday, March 16, 2020, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Updated story

Kansas governor orders K-12 school buildings closed for remainder of school year

Story updated at 4:04 p.m. Tuesday

TOPEKA — Kansas has at least 18 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as the pandemic continues to spread in the state, officials said Tuesday.

Health officials reported the first cases in Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas; Miami County, south of the Kansas City metropolitan area; and Ford County, in southwest Kansas.

They reported two more in Johnson County in the Kansas City area, bringing the total in the state’s most populous county to 10. Its neighbor, Wyandotte County, had two new cases, in addition to the only infection resulting in death in Kansas so far. Franklin County in eastern Kansas and Butler County outside of Wichita each have recorded a case.

Kansas health officials said 16 of the cases involve Kansas residents. The Ford County case involves a visitor from Oregon and the Miami County case, someone from Missouri.

The House approved a bill to give laid-off workers another 10 weeks of unemployment benefits. After the measure cleared a committee Tuesday morning, the chamber canceled all of its remaining committee meetings until further notice. It also sent office assistants home.

Kansas lottery officials announced the four state-owned casinos will close at the end of the day Tuesday until at least March 30. That comes after three of the state’s major universities announced Monday that they will move to all remote classes.

The announcements came after Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday banned all gatherings of more than 50 people until May 1. After Kelly’s announcement, officials Johnson and Wyandotte counties and Jackson County, Missouri, ordered the closing of restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs and movie theaters from Tuesday through April 1, with the exception of drive-thru, pickup and delivery services. They also banned public gatherings of more than 10 people, although they exempted government, religious and private business activities.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority recover. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Ford County officials said their patient is a person over 60 who traveled into the county. The person and the family are in quarantine. No information was immediately available about the new Johnson County cases.

Wyandotte County officials said the two new patients, who are women in their 40s and 50s, are self-isolating at home after being released from the hospital. A man in his 70s died in a nursing home in the county last week.

Dr. Lee Norman, the Kansas Department of Health secretary, said last week that officials are investigating the source of the infection at the Life Care Center in Kansas City. He said the man was immobile so someone brought the infection to him.

The Kansas Lottery Commission announced the four state-owned casinos will close in an effort to protect the safety and health of its employees and customers. The state’s casinos are in Kansas City, Pittsburg, Dodge City and Mulvane.

The University of Kansas announced Tuesday that all its classes will be held remotely for the rest of the semester. That comes after Kansas State University and Wichita State University both made a similar announcement Monday. Kansas State said it is cancelling graduation ceremonies at its Manhattan and Polytechnic campuses, while Wichita State said its spring graduation was postponed. Kansas officials have not yet determined the status of their graduation ceremonies.

More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the pandemic continues, the Journal-World will be making coverage of COVID-19 available outside of the paywall on LJWorld.com.

Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at: ljworld.com/coronavirus/

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 COVID-19@ks.gov 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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