The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses. The Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and updating the status regularly here.
This list was last updated at 11:13 a.m. March 24.
CASES AND DEATHS
81 cases, including two from out of state (see map for counties)
2 deaths (Wyandotte County and Johnson County)
NOTE: These figures only include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real, unknown total. Community transmission of the disease has been confirmed in Johnson County, which has also scaled back testing.
COUNTYWIDE ORDERS TO STAY HOME
Douglas, Leavenworth, Johnson and Wyandotte counties (and neighboring Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri) are ordering people to stay home unless carrying out essential activities (such as grocery shopping or going to work) starting Tuesday, March 24, and lasting for 30 days.
Miami County's stay-at-home order starts Wednesday, March 25, and lasts until April 23.
Doniphan County's starts Thursday, March 26, and runs through April 6.
Sedgwick County’s starts Wednesday, March 25.
People in other counties don't have stay-at-home orders but are still under Gov. Laura Kelly's executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people.
SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?
For the whole state: 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 exposure.
- 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).
- Cruise ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out their quarantine.
- International destinations on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international travel should also finish out their quarantine.
Kansas health secretary Lee Norman received 500 kits before the week of March 24, which he said would be enough for the week. The state is also working with hospitals in the KC metro and Wichita to set up in-house testing at their facilities.
Johnson County: As of March 20, KDHE said the county is the only in the state with confirmed community transmission. The state and county health departments have decided to scale back testing there because it is assumed that people in that area with COVID-19 symptoms do in fact have COVID-19. They should stay home and care for themselves. People in Johnson County who get sick enough to be hospitalized will be tested to help doctors determine their treatment.
KANSAS HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
It gives the state government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan. The state Legislature has extended Kelly's declaration through May (and can extend it), with the aim of giving her the ability to make certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.
On March 22, Kelly eased state rules to expand the use of telemedicine, to temporarily license more health workers and to allow heavier trucks on Kansas highways hauling relief supplies. On March 23, she ordered a ban on evictions if a tenant was unable to pay because of the coronavirus crisis. And she extended the income tax filing deadline to July 15, in line with a delay for filing federal tax forms.
HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?
K-State, University of Kansas and Wichita State: All of them will go fully online for the end of the school year. Students at K-State and KU will need special exemptions to remain in dorms.
Other colleges: Washburn and Fort Hays State are online. Newman University expanded spring break for two weeks (March 14 to March 29). Johnson County Community College will close campus from March 14-29, and all courses will restart online March 30. Pittsburg State started break a day early and will resume classes indefinitely online on March 30.
HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?
Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson have shut down all K-12 schools, public, private and parochial, for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. They had initially issued a strong recommendation that schools close March 16 through 20.
Some county health departments had already issued similar orders.
A Kansas State Department of Education task force has issued guidance to school districts on how to continue some amount of student learning.
WHAT’S BEEN CANCELED OR SUSPENDED?
The governor’s executive order temporarily banning landlords from evicting businesses or residential tenants is effective until May 1. That same order put in a moratorium on any mortgage foreclosures through the same period.
The governor mandated on March 23, through an executive order, that gatherings be restricted to less than 10 people.
Kansas state workers: Access to the Statehouse is limited to official business only, and lawmakers went on break early. Kelly wanted most state employees to stay home for at least two weeks starting March 23.
State prisons: 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.
Electric companies: Evergy, which serves 950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect residential or business services for an unspecified amount of time due to the “unprecedented challenge" of coronavirus that "may result in customers facing unexpected or unusual financial strain.”
Casinos: All four state-owned gaming facilities will close at the end of business on March 17, and remain so until at least March 30.
Public events: Many events and public places around the state have been canceled until at least the end of March.
Sports: The Kansas State High School Athletics Association canceled the state basketball tournament midway through it. And the Big 12 suspended spring sports until March 29.
HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS?
COVID-19 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.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID IT?
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Frequently.
- Cover your coughs.
- If you’re an older Kansan or medically fragile, put off any vacations and limit your trips to the grocery store or any public space.
- Stay home if you are sick — this goes for all ages.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COVID-19
Kansas Department of Health and Environment: http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.