Kansas among 14 states with most rapid COVID-19 spread

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, speaks at a news briefing on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.

TOPEKA — Kansas is among the top 14 states in the country for the most rapid spread of coronavirus, and in the top 14 states for having the least restrictions on activities, the state’s top health official said Tuesday.

Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, tweeted: “Do you think those two things are related? We were a shining example of success, only to squander it.”

Kansas set a new record Monday for its worst two-week spike in reported coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. The state Department of Health and Environment reported 982 more confirmed coronavirus cases since Friday, an increase of 6% that brought the total to 16,901. It also reported another three COVID-19-related deaths to bring the total for the pandemic to 280.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

In other coronavirus developments:

• People from Kansas who travel to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut will have to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive there, the three Northeastern states said Tuesday. Their quarantine applies to states which have a positive test rate higher than 10 cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10% or higher over a seven-day rolling average.

• The Shawnee County Health Department said Tuesday that it has identified some coronavirus cases linked to the Topeka Service Area on the Interstate 70 Turnpike located at mile marker 188 just east of Topeka. The department believes people were exposed to the virus in the food court and restrooms.

• A local emergency order was issued for Topeka and Shawnee County beginning Thursday that tightens restrictions on bars and restaurants. The order limits the hours of operation, closes dance floors, and prohibits any eating or drinking at counters or in standing-only areas.

• Wichita now has a number to call to report violations of its mask requirement, The Wichita Eagle reported. Sedgwick County commissioners opted out of Gov. Laura Kelly’s mandate requiring people to wear masks in public spaces, but the city of Wichita, where 76% of the county’s residents live, imposed one on Friday. Violators may be fined $25-$100.


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