GREG LOWER

The Neosho County Health Department reported its first coronavirus (COVID-19) positive case Tuesday.

Upon arrival to Neosho County the citizen contacted the health department and informed officials of international travel.  The patient has been quarantined and other people are known to have had direct contact. 

As of 5 pm Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 98 cases in the state, but did not include Neosho County among those with cases. Previous cases were also reported in Bourbon, Woodson and Cherokee counties, and two cases in Crawford County have not yet been included in the state statistics.

Why haven’t recent positive test cases for the coronavirus (COVID-19) been showing up on the state graphic that the Kansas Department of Health updates and shares every day?

Kristi Zears, KDHE director of communications, said the two cases in Crawford County that were reported by the county health department as positive on Monday have not gone through testing in the KDHE laboratory.

“The two cases need to go through our laboratory testing for confirmation before they are included in our number,” Zears said. 

The same is true for the one reported case in Neosho County. The sample has to go through tests at both the county and the state levels, before the state posts it in their total number. 

“The best we can do is just try to stay on top of it as much as we can,” Neosho County Family Planning Nurse Michaela Whitworth, RN, said.

She said about 35 people have been quarantined in Neosho County. She said some Neosho County residents have been tested, but due to a shortage of kits, the tests are limited to people who have been hospitalized.

Whitworth said patients are first tested for strep throat, mononucleosis, influenza, and mycoplasma pneumonia. If those tests are negative, they are then tested for COVID-19.

If a patient is in quarantine because of contact with someone who may have been exposed, the later contact is released if the earlier contact’s tests come back negative. Some medical supplies such as surgical masks are in limited supply, but Whitworth said the department’s supply is not available to the public. She said the department works with other agencies, such as the sheriff’s office, which receives masks to deal with the public.

Whitworth said masks can be reused and they encourage people to take steps such as sanitizing surfaces as much as possible.

The State of Kansas has issued a declaration mandating a 14-day quarantine for those who have traveled into or out of the country, visited California, Florida, New York, Washington state or the counties of Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, or Gunnison Colorado on or after March 15, as well as travel to Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.

Health Department Director Teresa Starr said people who meet this criteria should stay at home and monitor for flu-like symptoms, which include dry cough, fever, and chills. If symptoms arise and persist, please call a healthcare provider immediately. For further information please contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 866-534-3463.  

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