Kansas death toll from new coronavirus grows to 9; Trump approves disaster declaration

photo by: Associated Press

In this Thursday, March 26, 2020 photo, a sign posted at a Mission, Kansas playground, serves as a reminder to parents that use of the playground is prohibited, in compliance with social distancing guidelines. (AP Photo/Heather Hollingsworth)

Updated at 9:40 p.m. Monday

TOPEKA — As a statewide stay-at-home order took effect Monday and Kansas’ coronavirus death toll grew to nine, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for the state.

Trump’s order allows for federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release Monday from the White House.

Nursing home reports 18 cases

The Kansas City Star reported that Life Care Centers of America on Monday said 11 residents and seven workers tested positive for coronavirus at a home in Burlington, about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) south of Topeka.

A resident at the Life Care Center in Kansas City, Kan., was the first COVID-19-related fatality reported in the state on March 12. Both are operated by a company that also runs a Washington state nursing home linked to 22 deaths.

Norman: Unwise for Legislature to return April 27

The Kansas Legislature adjourned March 19 for an early and unusually long annual spring break, finishing a budget to keep state government operating after June. Lawmakers are scheduled to return April 27 to wrap up business for the year, but that’s only three days after state health officials are predicting a peak in the number of coronavirus cases in Kansas.

“I don’t second-guess the Legislature, but I think it would unwise to gather people that soon after a peak,” Norman said.

And Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said lawmakers can’t know how long it will take for the outbreak to wane enough for them to safely reconvene, adding, “We shouldn’t come back at all.”

Stay-at-home order

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order for all 2.9 million Kansas residents took effect Monday as the numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related deaths continued to grow.

At last count Monday, state health officials said that Kansas has 368 cases, up from 319 on Sunday. State and local officials reported nine deaths, including four in Wyandotte County. The order includes exceptions for religious worship and buying, selling and manufacturing guns and ammunition. The order will remain in force until at least April 19.

The latest two victims are a Sedgwick County man over 60 with underlying health conditions and a woman in her 40s in Crawford County. The deaths are the first in the state’s southern half. Most others were in the Kansas City area.

The number of cases grew 15% from Sunday, but that’s a lower growth rate than in recent days. The figure has more than tripled in six days, on track to meet Norman’s prediction of 400 cases by the end of March.

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