Kansas coronavirus death toll grows to 4, with more than 200 cases

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)

Story updated at 8:11 p.m. Friday

TOPEKA — Kansas health officials reported more than 200 confirmed coronavirus cases and a fourth death Friday, and the state’s health director said he doesn’t expect the spread of the virus to peak until mid- to late April.

All four of the state’s deaths occurred in the Kansas City area, with the latest a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions who died Thursday, health officials said.

The state reported at least 202 confirmed cases of the virus, an increase of 34 from Thursday.

When will the virus peak?

Dr. Lee Norman, the state’s health secretary, said at a news briefing Friday that data suggests the state’s coronavirus spread will peak in mid- to late April and he forecast that Kansas could record at least 900 cases.

Norman acknowledged that the forecast supposes that people in the state will follow health officials’ advice to stay home as much as possible. He said he was concerned that many still don’t seem to be taking the pandemic seriously.

If the data is accurate, Norman is optimistic the state’s health care system will have the capacity to treat all the patients without resorting to commandeering hotels or building temporary facilities, as some other states have done.

The state’s testing laboratory is getting new equipment that will help increase testing from the current 175 tests per day to as many as 1,000 per day. Private labs in Kansas also are increasing the number of tests they are running, which helps the state’s response to the virus, he said.

In other coronavirus-related news and notes from around the state:

Patients at KU hospital: The University of Kansas Health System says it is caring for 18 COVID-19 patients.

Hospital officials said in a news briefing Friday that two more people were admitted with the virus on Thursday. Ten of the 18 are in the intensive care unit and six are on ventilators. The other patients are in a unit dedicated to COVID-19 patients

New quarantine requirements: State health officials said residents who travel to Colorado and Louisiana on Friday or later must self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to Kansas.

Previously, the state had required quarantines for four specific counties in Colorado but said Friday that will be expanded to the entire state of Colorado.

Kansas already requires self-quarantines for anyone who traveled to California, Florida, New York and Washington state on or after March 15; traveled to Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23; took a boat cruise or river cruise on or after March 15, or traveled internationally on or after March 15.

The restrictions do not apply to anyone needed for critical jobs during the pandemic.

Soldiers ill: Fort Riley in Manhattan is reporting its first confirmed case of the coronavirus. Riley County and fort officials announced Thursday that the soldier who tested positive does not require hospitalization and is in isolation at his home in Manhattan.

The soldier is believed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus while traveling out of state, but officials haven’t said where he went.

Fort Riley requires a 14-day quarantine for service members who have traveled outside the region or have been in close contact with confirmed cases and those being tested.

A soldier assigned to Fort Leavenworth has also tested positive for the virus, Fort Leavenworth announced in a news release Friday afternoon. The soldier had returned from a trip overseas and was “under CDC recommended isolation in their hometown … when they started to develop symptoms,” according to the release. The soldier remains in isolation.


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