TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly and the state's top health official are expressing growing frustration as Kansas grapples with an continuing increase in coronavirus cases.
Kelly, a Democrat, on Wednesday said President Donald Trump's suggestion that restrictions on people's movements could be loosened by Easter to help the economy is “ wishful thinking ” and argued that the federal government should invoke the national Defense Production Act to address shortages of ventilators, protective masks and testing kits, a move Trump has said isn't necessary.
“We, along with all of the other states, are really kind of begging the federal government to get their act together,” Kelly said in an interview.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lee Norman, the state's secretary of health and environment, said people should stay home as much as possible, even if they don't live in a county that has issued a stay-at-home order. He said some residents are trying to exploit exceptions in the orders.
The state reported 126 confirmed cases Wednesday but that didn't include three cases reported later in the day in Topeka. Norman said he expects Kansas to have around 400 cases by the end of the month.
Among the sickened are two people who attended a March 5 magician group’s meeting with a 74-year-old retired school superintendent who was Johnson County’s first coronavirus death. The man and his wife are quarantined at home, said David Sandy, president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 129.
“It is pretty heart-wrenching," Sandy told The Kansas City Star. “We’re like a family.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
In the Wichita area, about 200 inmates have been released from the Sedgwick County Jail since mid-March over concerns about the coronavirus. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said told The Wichita Eagle that the goal is to give the Sedgwick County Jail “breathing room” so it has enough space to isolate inmates who might fall ill in the coming weeks.
City officials also have converted the Wichita’s Century II event center from a convention and performing arts center into an impromptu drive-thru decontamination station for ambulances and other emergency vehicles, said Mayor Brandon Whipple and Assistant City Manager Donte Martin.
Stay-at-home orders also continue to cause economic fallout. With 600 movie theaters across the country closed, Leawood-based AMC Theatres has furloughed its entire corporate staff, The Kansas City Star reported. AMC employs some 400 people at its Leawood offices, according to the Kansas City Area Development Council.
“As we all know, these are unprecedented times,” spokesman Ryan Noonan said in a statement. “AMC is doing everything possible to ensure that we can welcome back both our associates and our guests as our theaters reopen.”
The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses.
Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and
updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish,
go here. This list was last updated at 4:10 p.m. April 7.
CASES AND DEATHS
900 cases (see map for counties) and 223 hospitalizations
27 deaths (the state is no longer disclosing which counties are seeing deaths)
NOTE: These figures only
include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real,
unknown total. Community transmission is occurring in parts of Kansas.
View additional charts showing the disease’s spread over time and other
Gov. Laura Kelly is instituting a statewide stay-at-home order as of
12:01 a.m. March 30. It will last until at least April 19. Stay-at-home
orders allow people to take care of essential activities (such as
grocery shopping or going to work) as well as exercise outside, but
otherwise keep to themselves.
The state’s stay-at-home order
supersedes at least 13 county-by-county orders. Should the state’s order
lift before a county’s is through, the county can choose to keep its
own in effect.
SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is now mandating home
quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below.
If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or
higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact
your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19
Connecticut on or after April 6.
Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27.
States with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington) on or after March 15.
Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado (if your visit was March 8th or later).
ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to
quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out
International destinations on or after March
15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international
travel should also finish out their quarantine.
doctors recommend patients with COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they
test negative for the disease, because of concerns that current testing
approaches may be producing a significant number of false negatives.
hospitals across the state now offer drive-through testing, but
patients must get doctor approval in advance or else will be turned
away. Many Kansans can’t be tested unless they’re sick enough to be
hospitalized, and results may take up to a week.
testing supplies remain limited and private labs helping many clinics
and hospitals have large backlogs of samples. Hospitals trying to buy
equipment for in-house testing say vendors are backlogged, too. The
state will soon have several portable machines that can conduct 5- to
15-minute tests, and plans to lend them out to facilities most in need.
Some Kansas hospitals have succeeded
in getting the testing materials and can give patients their results
within a day. The state health department lab in Topeka can handle
several hundred samples per day — a fraction of the demand.
Under a new federal law, you should not have to pay for your coronavirus test, regardless of insurance status (but patients could still see related bills).
Separately, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest
private insurer, says some patients won’t have to pay for coronavirus
HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?
and private universities and community colleges in the state will
finish this semester via online classes. Spring sports have been
canceled. Most staff travel has been suspended. Graduations at KU,
K-State and Wichita State are postponed or rescheduled.
University of Kansas and Wichita State also plan to hold summer classes
online. KU and K-State announced hiring freezes in early April.
HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?
In mid-March, Kansas became the first state in the U.S. to shut down school buildings for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. A state task force then issued guidance for distance learning, for which students aren’t expected to spend more than a few hours a day.
Some districts that make high schoolers earn more credits than required by the state will graduate them this year based on the state’s lower bar.
Districts across the state are still providing free meals to eligible children, but some have stopped because of concerns about the coronavirus spreading at meal pickup sites.
WHAT IN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE IS AFFECTED?
Church gatherings and funerals:
Effective April 8, the governor has prohibited services of more than 10
people. That doesn’t count people performing the rituals or funeral
workers, but they must stay six feet apart from each other.
State tax deadline: Extended until July 15, in line with a delay for filing federal tax forms.
Evictions: Business and residential evictions are banned until May 1 if a tenant is unable to pay because of the coronavirus.
Mortgage foreclosures: Foreclosures are banned until May 1.
Small businesses: May be eligible for emergency federal loans. Find information here.
Hospitality businesses: Kansas created an emergency loan program, which quickly ran out of funds, but businesses can still apply to help the state assess the need for more assistance.
which serves 950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect
residential or business services for an unspecified amount of time.
Gatherings: Restricted to fewer than 10 people throughout the state.
State of emergency: Kansas’
declaration is good through May (and can be extended). It gives the
government more power to marshal resources and Kelly the ability to make
certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.
State workers: Access
to the Statehouse is limited to official business only through April
19. Most state workers are doing their jobs remotely.
Prisons and jails: The
Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state
facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges
families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video visits.
County jails largely have ended visitations as well.
HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS?
usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most
people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found
in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six
weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.