Reno County confirms first coronavirus test

By Aaron Strain / Web Master

From the Reno County Health Department:

“Reno County officials along with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have confirmed the first presumptive-positive case of COVID-19 in a Reno County resident. The patient is older than the age of 60 and is in home isolation per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“KDHE continues to work with the Reno County Health Department and the CDC to identify and contact people who may have come into contact with the individual while they were infectious and will monitor them for fever and respiratory symptoms.”

A presumptive-positive case is when a patient has been tested positive by a local health laboratory but remains unconfirmed by the CDC.

Health Department Director Nick Baldetti announced the case:

Reno County Health Officer Nick Baldetti gives an update about the first presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Reno County

Posted by Reno County Emergency Management on Friday, March 20, 2020

Reno County declares emergency

The Board of Reno County Commissioners declared a State of Local Disaster Emergency Thursday. This allows the county to activate the Reno County Emergency Operations Plan and obtain otherwise unavailable Federal Disaster Relief Funds.

The declaration will remain in effect for 60 days unless it is renewed or terminated by the commissioners.

Latest from KDHE

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday 44 known cases of Coronavirus, including 23 in Johnson County and one in Sedgwick County. Updated numbers, including the new case in Reno County, will be released by Saturday evening.

KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said the department is testing about 150-200 samples daily and has a supply of a few hundred test kits. 

If the KDHE does not receive more kits through the weekend, the department’s testing would be limited to diagnose the sickest symptom-showing patients. Commercial labs are also running tests, but they come with a cost and take more time to process, Norman said.

“We’re precariously low on the test kits,” Norman said, “and by the way, this is not unique to our state, everybody is struggling with this.”

Norman explained the situation in greater detail:

Secretary Lee Norman, M.D.'s COVID-19 press conference on March 20.

Posted by Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday, March 20, 2020

Across the state

The Kansas Department of Labor underscored the severity, reporting a surge of 11,355 unemployment claims this week, up from 1,296 last week. 

KDOL Secretary Delía García encouraged workers and employers to visit www.dol.ks.gov to apply for benefits and find answers to their questions. “As we navigate these unprecedented times, know (that KDOL) is here for you,” García said.

Governor Laura Kelly outlined a program Friday aiming to provide $5 million worth of zero-interest, short-term loans to restaurants, bars, and hotels. Under the state’s disaster declaration, Kelly also expects $2 million in low-interest loans from the federal Small Business Administration. 

“During this turbulent time, our affected small business owners need support,” Kelly said.

Friday, the Kansas Legislature passed a budget for the next fiscal year, including millions of dollars set aside for the state’s COVID-19 response. The Legislature now heads into a break and is expected to return on April 27.

Further information

More information about the coronavirus, including symptoms and how to proceed if you are feeling ill, can be found on the KDHE website at kdheks.gov/coronavirus. The website and public releases are updated daily by 5 p.m. Alternatively, email COVID-19@ks.gov or call the KDHE phone bank during regular business hours at 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF). These lines do not provide medical evaluations.

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