Kansas sees rate of positive coronavirus tests inching up

photo by: Associated Press

Dr. Lee Norman, top administrator at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, discusses the ongoing resurgence in coronavirus cases in the state during a news conference, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Norman is calling the resurgence "awful." (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA — Kansas has seen its rate of positive coronavirus tests inch up and reported cases double in nearly half of the state’s counties over the past month so that the state is approaching 29,000 reported cases for the pandemic.

The state Department of Health and Environment reported Monday that the state had another 1,064 cases since Friday, up 3.8% to 28,876. The number of actual cases is thought to be far higher because people can be infected with the virus without feeling ill and because of a lack of testing, particularly early in the pandemic.

The department also reported another seven COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total to 365 for the pandemic.

The health department reported that 9.6% of the nearly 302,000 coronavirus tests on Kansas residents have been positive since the pandemic reached the state in early March. The positive rate-to-date dropped to 8% in late June and stood at 8.3% on July 3.

“Test positivity is a continued proof of COVID-19’s presence and spread in our state,” said Dr. Lee Norman, the state health department’s top administrator.

Kansas has allowed its 105 counties to set their own rules for businesses and public gatherings since May 26, and they are permitted by law to opt out of an order from Gov. Laura Kelly directing people to wear masks in public. The State Board of Education is letting Kansas’ 286 elected local school boards decide whether to delay the reopening of fall K-12 classes from mid-August.

The state has seen an 81% increase in reported cases since July 3, up nearly 13,000. The number of COVOID-19-related deaths has risen 32% during the same period, up 88.

The state health department’s data shows that 50 counties have seen their reported number of cases at least double, with another seven counties having their first reported cases after July 3.

But about 73% of the new cases, or roughly 9,400 have been in the state’s five most populous counties, where the number of reported cases has jumped 138% in the previous month.

Sedgwick County, the state’s second-most populous county and home to Kansas’ largest city of Wichita, has had more than 2,900 new reported cases since July 3, an increase of 188% to more than 4,500.

An inmate working in the kitchen of the Sedgwick County jail tested positive Friday for coronavirus, forcing the sheriff’s office to quarantine the entire kitchen staff of 54 inmates, The Wichita Eagle reported. Col. Brian White said meals were delayed while new kitchen staffers were trained.

There has been some good news in the most recent coronavirus reports. Kansas has seen its rolling seven-day average for new reported cases a day drop since peaking at a pandemic-high of an average of 479 cases for the seven days ending July 17. The figure for the seven days ending Monday was 386, or 19.4% lower, about the same as for the seven days ending Friday.


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