1 dead, 25 sickened amid outbreak at Kansas nursing home

photo by: Associated Press

A medical worker administers a test for coronavirus at a drive-up testing center at GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita, Kan., Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

TOPEKA — Kansas coronavirus cases swelled nearly 15% in one day as an outbreak at a nursing home grew and officials urged people to stay away from each other to control the virus’ spread.

Health officials reported 552 cases in Kansas on Thursday, up from 482 a day earlier.

Thirteen people have died, including a 90-year-old resident of the Life Care Center of Burlington.

Twenty-five other residents and staff members at the facility about 60 miles south of Topeka are sickened, Coffey County officials said. The company also runs a nursing home near Seattle tied to 40 deaths and one in Kansas City, Kansas, where a resident died last month.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees long-term care facilities, rated the Burlington home overall as “much below average” and gave it similar ratings for health inspections and quality measures, while rating the facility’s staffing as average.

The Burlington nursing home hasn’t responded to telephone messages seeking comment.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has issued a statewide stay-at-home-order as part of efforts to contain the virus, but getting everyone to follow it has proved challenging. People are supposed to stay at least 6 feet from each other and not gather in groups of more than 10.

The Shawnee Mission School District, which is among the state’s largest with more than 27,000 students, announced that it would begin issuing trespassing warnings Thursday for people who violate social distancing rules at its fields and stadiums.

Those facilities remain open so people can exercise. But officials say the district and local police departments have received numerous complaints about large groups playing organized sports.

The virus also has taken a financial toll. New unemployment benefit data released Thursday show that claims in Kansas increased to 54,739 for the week ending March 28, up from 25,563 the prior week. That’s a sharp spike from last year when there were 1,508 new claims for the week ending March 30, 2019, and 1,271 the week before that.


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