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If you have traveled to Johnson County since March 15, the Labette County Health Department now requires you to be in self-quarantine for two weeks.

The department added Johnson County, where COVID-19 is spreading through community contact, on the travel warning list in Labette County. Other places on that list include California, Florida, New York and Washington state, as well as Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado. Cruise, river boat or international travel remain on the list as well.

Local health and emergency management officials say the guidance is that if you are within 6 feet for 10 minutes of a person with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, you could get the disease and will need to be quarantined for two weeks. Labette County, as of Thursday, had six people in quarantine for various reasons. During a 14-day quarantine, the person should call the health department if he or she experiences symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath). She or he should take their temperature twice a day as well. If the person in quarantine did not get ill or have a temperature spike in that two weeks and feels fine, he or she will be released from quarantine without requiring a test for COVID-19, according to Charlie Morse, Labette County Emergency Management director.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee met on Friday morning via video conference to discuss travel to Johnson County and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic as cases in Kansas grow. No positive cases have been found in Labette County yet. On Friday afternoon, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 44 cases in Kansas. Only one death has been reported, a Wyandotte County man. Most cases are in Johnson County, 23. Wyandotte County has nine cases. Butler, Leavenworth and Morris counties have two cases each. Cherokee, Douglas, Franklin, Jackson, Linn and Sedgwick counties have one case each. A 52-year-old man in Columbus learned he tested positive for the virus on Wednesday night. He is in quarantine and is not hospitalized.

Lisa Stivers, Labette County Health Department administrator, discussed how long the coronavirus lives once expelled from its host, based on a study released Thursday. She said the virus lives three hours in the air; four hours on copper-type surfaces; 24 hours on cardboard; and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. 

Stivers said Labette Health has sent 34 samples for testing. Of those, 17 came from Labette County and 13 of those came back negative with four results pending. The rest of the samples came from clinics in other counties. 

She said Johnson County is no longer testing patients for COVID-19 unless they are in the hospital.

“If they’re sick and don’t require hospitalization, they’re just saying stay home and you have to be 72 hours fever-free before you can leave your house,” Stivers said.

She said the decision to require quarantine for recent travelers to Johnson County (on or after March 15) resulted from consultation with Dr. Sonya Culver, the health department’s medical director.

Morse said cattle sales and agriculture auctions can continue if people maintain a distance of 6 feet and do not have closer contact for a period of 10 minutes. Gov. Laura Kelly approved many exemptions to her executive orders to allow certain parts of the economy to remain active.

Committee members also heard that Kansas Department of Transportation will close its Altamont facility. A local KDOT official, Priscilla Petersen, said the Altamont and other KDOT offices in Southeast Kansas will be closed from March 24 to April 3 at Kelly’s direction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. KDOT will continue to respond to emergencies as necessary. The agency will continue to inspect active construction projects during this time.

The new coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most adults. Older adults and people with existing health issues can develop severe illness, including pneumonia. People with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, a cough and shortness of breath are encouraged to call their medical provider.

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