Topeka area officials see rise in funeral-linked virus cases

photo by: Associated Press

The Kansas Statehouse stands against the sky as the sun sets in the distance Monday, April 27, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Story updated at 4:33 p.m. Wednesday

TOPEKA — Health officials are reporting 41 cases of the coronavirus and one death linked to funeral services and visitations in Topeka’s Shawnee County.

The positive cases include residents from five different counties, the Shawnee County Health Department said in a news release Tuesday.

Health officials urged families to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and work with funeral directors and religious leaders to keep services safe. Possible steps include wearing masks, limiting attendance, practicing social distancing and using technology to connect virtually.

“We must stay diligent with conducting our own personal risk assessments when attending events such as funerals and larger family gatherings”, said Linda Ochs, director of the county’s health department. She also stressed that anyone who is sick should stay home.

Meanwhile, the State Finance Council on Tuesday unanimously approved $400 million that will be distributed to 103 Kansas counties to assist with the economic and health costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Laura Kelly’s SPARK task force, which has been charged with determining how federal funds will be allocated, proposed that $350 million be distributed based on population and the remaining $50 million be given to counties that have been hit the hardest, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment added three states — Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas — to its travel quarantine list. State health officials asked individuals who travel on Wednesday or thereafter to those states to quarantine for 14 days.

Kansas health officials also removed six states from its quarantine list: Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. That is effective for persons returning to Kansas from those states beginning Wednesday.

New data released Wednesday shows Kansas has at least 11,681 coronavirus cases, up 2% or 262 cases from Monday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by two to 247.


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