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KDHE COVID-19 Press conferences

POSTED: 3/30/2020



Watch the Latest Press Conference Here

Governor Kelly issues temporary, statewide stay at home order in ongoing effort to combat cOVID-19

POSTED: 03/28/2020


As part of ongoing efforts to limit the spread of novel coronavirus in Kansas, today Governor Laura Kelly issued Executive Order 20-16, making Kansas the 22nd state in the nation to institute a temporary, statewide stay-home order. It will exist in conjunction with the Kansas Essential Function Framework for COVID-19 response efforts and will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 30. The measure will be in place at least until Sunday, April 19.

“Our modeling continues to suggest that the number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases in Kansas could reach as high as 900 over the next week,” Kelly said. “While I left these decisions to local health departments as long as possible, the reality is that the patchwork approach that has developed is inconsistent and is a recipe for chaos and, ultimately, for failure in our statewide fight to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Under Executive Order 20-16, Kansans are directed to stay home unless performing one of the following essential activities:

  • Obtaining food, medicine and other household necessities;
  • Going to and from work at a business or organization performing an essential function as identified in the Kansas Essential Function Framework;
  • Seeking medical care;
  • Caring for children, family members or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location;
  • Engaging in an outdoor activity, provided individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gathering size.

“I know this is hard, and I can’t tell you how much I wish it weren’t necessary,” Kelly said. “But we have a small window to ensure that Kansas does not suffer the same terrible fate of other hard-hit states like New York and Missouri. We’ve all got to do our part to help stop the spread of the disease. Stay home. Stay Safe.”

In a public address to Kansans on Saturday morning, Kelly explained that this action became necessary for three key reasons:

  • To provide statewide uniformity in response efforts;
  • To prevent overwhelming hospitals – especially rural hospitals – who may not have the same capacity to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients;
  • To buy Kansas more time as the state officials work with federal partners to secure badly needed protective personal equipment (PPE), additional ventilators and COVID-19 testing supplies.

Kelly also commended federal efforts in recent days to support state and local response efforts in the form of an historic emergency relief package. More details about implications the federal stimulus bill will have for Kansas will be released as they become available.

The executive order can be viewed here.

Please visit kdheks.gov/coronavirus for additional virus-related information, and visit getkansasbenefits.gov for federal stimulus benefits updates or to file for Unemployment Insurance benefits.


KDHE adds states to travel quarantine list: Louisiana and Colorado

For Immediate Release March 27, 2020


TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has added two new states to the quarantine list: Louisiana and Colorado. Previously, just certain counties in Colorado were included. This is effective for persons returning today, March 27, and moving forward.

A comprehensive list of those Kansans needing to quarantine for 14 days includes those who have:

  • Traveled to Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27. 
  • Traveled to a state with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington state) on or after March 15. 
  • Traveled to Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23. 
  • Visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado in the week of March 8 or after. 
  • Traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15.
                 o People who have previously been told by Public Health to quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should finish out their quarantine. 
  • Traveled internationally on or after March 15.
                  o People who have previously been told by Public Health to quarantine because of their
                      international travel to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran should finish out their
                      quarantine. 
  • Received notification from public health officials (state or local) that you are a close contact of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. You should quarantine at home for 14 days since your last contact with the case. (A close contact is defined as someone who has been closer than 6 feet for more than 10 minutes while the patient is symptomatic.)

Important Note: These mandates do not apply to critical infrastructure sectors needed to continue operations during this pandemic. Public health, including hospitals, clinics, etc. need to have the staffing resources to continue serving Kansans. While KDHE strongly recommends these quarantine restrictions for everyone, we do recognize that medical care needs to continue and no healthcare facility should ever be to a point where it would need to close due to staff being quarantined. We ask facilities to ensure they have updated their Emergency Preparedness Plans and implement protocols to ensure that no employee comes to work symptomatic. Other examples of critical infrastructures include pharmaceutical and food supply, along with others defined by the Department of Homeland Security.

For more information, please visit the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus. KDHE has a phone bank that is staffed Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. The phone number is 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF). KDHE also has an email address for general inquiries, COVID-19@ks.gov. Please note these contacts are for general questions and cannot provide you with medical evaluations. If you are feeling ill, please stay home and call your healthcare provider.


KDHE updates the public on testing prioritization; issues new quarantine notices

For Immediate Release:  March 23, 2020


TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is issuing several updates today, including the addition of new states to the quarantine mandates as well as a prioritization for COVID-19 tests submitted to the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories. 

Two states added to 14-day home quarantine 

KDHE is now mandating 14-day home quarantine for Kansans who have: 
                   • Traveled to a state with known widespread community transmission (California,  
                      Florida, New York and Washington state) on or after March 15. 
                   • Traveled to Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
                   • Visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado in the week of 
                      March 8 or after. 
                   • Traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15. 
                             o People who have previously been told by Public Health to quarantine       
                                because of their cruise ship travel should finish out their quarantine. 
                   • Traveled internationally on or after March 15. 
                             o People who have previously been told by Public Health to quarantine 
                                because of their international travel to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy 
                                and Iran should finish out their quarantine. 
                   • Received notification from public health officials (state or local) that you are a
                     close contact of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. You should quarantine
                     at home for 14 days since your last contact with the case. (A close contact is
                     defined as someone who has been closer than 6 feet for more than 10 minutes
                     while the patient is symptomatic.) 

Important Note: These mandates do not apply to critical infrastructure sectors needed to continue operations during this pandemic. Public health, including hospitals, clinics, etc. need to have the staffing resources to continue serving Kansans. While KDHE strongly recommends these quarantine restrictions for everyone, we do recognize that medical care needs to continue and no healthcare facility should ever be to a point where it would need to close due to staff being quarantined. We ask facilities to ensure they have updated their Emergency Preparedness Plans and implement protocols to ensure that no employee comes to work symptomatic. Other examples of critical infrastructures include pharmaceutical and food supply, along with others defined by the Department of Homeland Security. 


Testing Prioritization Chang
e
Due to wide-scale shortages of laboratory supplies and reagents, testing for COVID-19 at the state lab is being prioritized for public health purposes and urgent need. KDHE will be prioritizing specimens for COVID-19 testing based upon those who meet Kansas’ patient under investigation (PUI) criteria starting today, March 23.

Those include:
                   • Healthcare workers and first responders who have COVID-19 symptoms
                   • Potential clusters of unknown respiratory illness, with priority given to long-term
                     care facilities and healthcare facilities
                   • Hospitalized patients with no alternative diagnosis 
                   • Individuals over the age of 60 who have symptoms of COVID-19 with priority given
                     to people who reside in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or other
                     congregate setting, and
                   • Individuals with underlying health conditions that would be treated differently if
                     they were infected with COVID-19. 

Specimens that were sent to KDHE prior to March 23, will still be tested. However, moving forward healthcare providers should: 
                   • Send specimens to a commercial reference laboratory.
                   • Inform all patients who present with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (e.g.,
                     measured fever of 100.4 (F) or greater and lower respiratory symptoms including
                     cough or shortness of breath) who are not a high priority for testing to:
                            o Self-isolate at home or another appropriate location for 7 days after illness
                               onset or for 72 hours after resolution of fever (without fever-reducing
                               medication) and significant improvement in symptoms, whichever is longer. 

“KDHE has been in contact with the CDC, FEMA, manufacturers and distributors of the testing supplies and reagents to find ones our laboratory needs to run the specimens collected for COVID-19 testing,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary, said. “We are doing everything in our power to get supplies for our state. We are focusing testing in our lab on higher risk individuals at this time.” 

For more information, please visit the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus. KDHE has a phone bank that is staffed Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. The phone number is 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF). KDHE also has an email address for general inquiries, COVID-19@ks.gov. Please note these contacts are for general questions and cannot provide you with medical evaluations. If you are feeling ill, please stay home and call your healthcare provider.