Sep 03, 2020 11:00 PM

Hundreds in quarantine after COVID-19 outbreaks at Kan. schools

Posted Sep 03, 2020 11:00 PM

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds are quarantined at several Kansas universities as a growing number of students test positive for the coronavirus, raising concerns that they could bring the virus home with them over the upcoming holiday weekend.

At Pittsburg State University, 96 positive COVID-19 cases have been recorded among students since the fall semester began Aug. 17, officials said during a media briefing Wednesday. Currently, 101 people are in isolation, or separated from people who are not sick, and about 600 are in quarantine, or separated for the monitoring of the development of symptoms.

Pittsburg State officials are “strongly suggesting” that students remain in Pittsburg over the coming Labor Day weekend.

“We feel we have a good handle on the situation here,” Tim Stebbins, the public health officer in Crawford County, where Pittsburg is located. “We don’t need the virus coming in and out due to student travel.”

At Emporia State University, officials announced Wednesday that all athletic activities were temporarily suspended. The school said in a news release that total of 14 student-athletes out of more than 400 spread across all teams had tested positive for COVID-19.

The University of Kansas announced Wednesday that the number of positive cases resulting from compulsory testing of students arriving on campus had grown to 546, for a 2.42% overall positivity rate, according to a news release. Among fraternities and sororities, the percentage testing positive shrank from 10% to 8.38% as the houses added freshmen members who had lower rates of infection to their ranks. Nine Greek houses were places on quarantine last week.

At Benedictine College in Atchison, health officials in the county want to put all of the school’s 2,000 students in quarantine for 14 days. Under the plan, students would only leave their residential quarters to obtain packed meals from the cafeteria and participate in religious services.

Currently, 16 students are in isolation in the community after testing positive and 132 are in quarantine as a precaution because they may have been exposed, said college spokesman Steve Johnson. He said the school thinks it has adequate mitigation in place and quarantining all students is “not the best solution.” No final decision has been made.

Statewide, Kansas reported 1,328 new COVID-19 cases from Monday to Wednesday, bringing the state’s confirmed total to 43,940. That includes 15 sports clusters with 119 cases. Health officials also reported an additional 12 COVID-19-related deaths for a statewide death toll of 458.

One of the deadliest outbreaks was at Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation in Wyandotte County, where 37 residents died, KCUR reports. A newly released scathing federal report said that weeks into the outbreak, inspectors still saw health workers caring for COVID-19 patients without proper protective gear.

Riverbend argued a federal law shields it against 12 lawsuits that have been filed, but a federal judge rejected the argument two weeks ago.

“This report just confirms the allegations we’ve already made,” said Rachel Stahle, a lawyer representing families in seven of the lawsuits.