ERIE – Neosho County commissioners approved a disaster declaration from the COVID-19 pandemic in a special session Wednesday morning.

Emergency Preparedness Director Melanie Kent-Culp presented the resolution following a statewide declaration by Gov. Laura Kelly. The commission declaration allows Neosho County access to supplies and equipment such as ventilators.

Disaster declarations usually cover a period of a week, but Kent-Culp recommended a 30-day declaration. Commissioner Gail Klaassen instead proposed a 45-day period so the commission could review the situation at a regular meeting in February.

The declaration was effective beginning at 2 pm Jan. 7, when Kent-Culp issued a verbal declaration.

Neosho County Health Department Administrator Teresa Starr also spoke to the commission in response to changes to NCHD’s reporting of COVID-19 statistics. She said NCHD has to be as accurate as it can, but the information is not explainable to the lay person.

“We’re trying to be very open,” Starr said.

NCHD is reporting local statistics each week on Tuesday, and the most recent report showed 229 active, positive cases – but no information on total cases, number of people in quarantine or total deaths. 

The Jan. 4 report showed 144 active, positive cases and 6 people in quarantine. It also showed 53 deaths and 3,371 people recovered. The deaths, active and recovered cases add up to a total of 3,568 since the first case was reported in March 2020. 

The six quarantined cases include those investigated by the NCHD, but not households of positive patients investigated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Starr told commissioners that KDHE does not send its information on households and contacts to the health department.

Commissioner Nic Galemore said people who take at-home tests may not report the results. The KDHE does not accept at-home test results and does not allow NCHD to report them, Starr said.

The KDHE website,, provides current information on total statewide and Neosho County case statistics and deaths, Starr said.

Postings archived on the NCHD Facebook page previously showed no active cases in Neosho County as of June 2021. At that time, 1,887 people had recovered and 35 died.

In its Wednesday report, KDHE showed Neosho County with 3,771 total cases since the pandemic began and 56 total deaths. The report showed eight new cases since Tuesday and 44 new cases since Monday. According to KDHE, 235.6 people out of 1,000 people in the county population have had COVID-19, above the state average of 206.59 per 1,000.

The next regular county commission meeting is 10 am Tuesday.



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