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Neosho County reported its first COVID-19 positive case Tuesday, and Crawford County health officials confirmed a third positive case.
The individual in Crawford County is fully cooperating with local health officials and is isolated at home as their condition is not severe enough to warrant hospitalization. Health department staff are conducting an investigation to quarantine all contacts of the individual.
The Crawford County Health Department is aware that daily case updates from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment may not always align with county updates. The KDHE report should align with the three Crawford County cases by Thursday. Only one of the two cases reported Monday by Crawford County officials has showed up in the KDHE report because the other result was still being verified.
“We just received those samples for verification and those will be run through our lab shortly,” KDHE Communications Director Kristi Zears said.
The test reported Wednesday had been run through the state lab. Information about the patient was unavailable.
Test results are being reported throughout the day by county health departments but KDHE only updates its numbers once a day, in the afternoon.
Crawford County residents who are exhibiting symptoms of fever greater than 100, cough and shortness of breath, have had an exposure to a positive COVID-19 individual, or who have questions about testing can call the Crawford County Health Department at 620-231-5411 to be screened to determine if testing for COVID-19 is needed. Those who are tested for COVID-19 will also be tested for influenza A and B as well as strep throat. The Crawford County Health Department is able to perform the influenza A/B and strep throat testing on site and is able to collect the sample for COVID-19 and ship it to an outside laboratory.
The person who tested positive for COVID-19 in Neosho County had traveled internationally. Upon arrival to Neosho County the citizen contacted the health department and informed officials of their travel to Germany. The patient has been quarantined and other people are known to have had direct contact.
“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 said.
She said about 35 people have been quarantined in Neosho County. Some 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.
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, they are asked to call a health care provider immediately. Further information can be found by calling the COVID-19 Hotline, 866-534-3463.
The overwhelming opinion of medical professionals across the country is that everyone must do their part to help reduce the spread of this virus. Even though many will only experience mild symptoms, the higher risk/elderly population and those with underlying health issues could experience more severe symptoms, the Crawford County Health Department release said.
In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 it is recommended that everyone travel as little as possible, utilize social distancing (remain 6 feet apart), use frequent hand hygiene, cough or sneeze into their sleeve, work from home if possible and stay home from work if they are ill.
Because of the need to make an effort to keep area medical professionals safe and healthy, it is strongly recommended anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to first call their clinic or doctor’s office so they can provide instructions on what time to arrive and whether or not they should come inside. Many times the medical provider will come to the patient’s vehicle to assess them. Following these procedures helps ensure people don’t inadvertently expose other patients or the medical staff.