Norman: Kansas has ‘a lot of work to do’ in slowing spread of COVID-19 as state adds over 1,500 cases since Monday

photo by: Associated Press

Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health and environment, spoke about current numbers of COVID-19 cases Wednesday, July 8, 2020, during a news conference at the Kansas Statehouse. (Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

Kansas’ top health official on Wednesday revealed new statistics that show the state has far to go in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Kansas’ percentage rate of positive COVID-19 tests was the sixth highest in the United States at 10.1% — well above the national average of 5.8%. The state is also seeing 108 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people each week, which is the 16th highest in the U.S. and above the national average of 93 cases per 100,000 people.

“We have a lot of work to do to push down the new cases,” Norman said in his weekly COVID-19 news briefing.

Since Wednesday, KDHE confirmed another 1,536 cases of the respiratory virus, bringing Kansas’ cumulative total to 39,937 cases since the pandemic began in March. The state also confirmed 11 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19, which has now claimed the lives of 437 Kansans.

The 1,536 cases resulted from a total of 8,140 virus tests for a percent positive rate of 18.9% — by far Kansas’ highest two-day percentage rate of the pandemic.

That two-day jump gave Kansas its biggest seven-day spike in new cases since the pandemic reached the state in early March. The average number of new cases for the seven days ending Wednesday was 578, almost 18% higher than the previous peak of 491 cases a day for the seven days ending Aug. 17.

Six months after Kansas confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19, Norman said, there may still be a ways to go in the timeline of a pandemic.

“If this were a football game, my estimate is that we’re at about the end of the first quarter,” Norman said.

That estimate, he said, is based on many factors, including schools beginning in-person instruction, colleges and universities bringing thousands back to campuses, and the lack of a vaccine — which Norman said he hoped could be available by the end of 2020.

Still, Kansans are not at the mercy of COVID-19, he reiterated. Wearing a mask, socially distancing, staying home if you feel sick and taking a COVID-19 test if you exhibit symptoms are all measures that people can take to protect themselves and their communities.

“We are not helpless against this virus,” he said. “People, I know, are getting a little frustrated by restrictions on movement. But I think it’s really important to get the message out that, whether adults or children, we are not helpless against this virus.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.