Updated Regularly: What Kansans Need To Know About The COVID-19 Coronavirus
The new coronavirus has spread quickly around the world, the U.S. and across Kansas.
The Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish, go here. This list was last updated at 4:40 p.m. June 1.
CASES AND DEATHS
10,011 confirmed or probable cases (see map for counties)
NOTE: KNS will update these figures Monday, Wednesday and Friday. "Confirmed" cases are people who test positive for the virus. "Probable" cases are people with COVID-19 symptoms and direct exposure to confirmed cases or people who have tested positive on new antibody tests and have symptoms or direct exposure to confirmed cases. View additional charts showing the disease’s spread over time and other trends here.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH REOPENING?
Gov. Laura Kelly initially set the reopening of the state and much of its economy to start May 4 in a series of phases.
However, when she issued a new emergency declaration effective May 27, the phased-in plan became a recommendation for counties, not a mandate. That means counties can choose to loosen or end restrictions on mass gatherings, as well as reopen bars, pools, concert venues, summer camps and fairs.
The phases under Kelly’s plan were:
- Phase 1 (May 4-17): Allows some non-essential businesses to open, but they cannot have more than 10 people inside who can’t properly social distance (at least six feet apart). Bars, movie theaters, gyms, museums and salons or barber shops are not included in this phase, nor are community centers, summer camps, graduations or venues that hold 2,000 or more. School buildings still remain closed until the fall, but churches that can keep families at least 10 feet apart are free to meet.
- Phase 1.5 (May 18-May 21): Keeps the restrictions on gatherings of 10 or fewer people in place. Allows nail salons, hair salons, barber shops, tanning salons and tattoo parlors to open as long as appointments are pre-scheduled. Gyms and health centers may also open, but can’t offer classes or locker rooms. Graduation ceremonies are allowed if gathering restrictions are followed. Bars, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, community centers and festivals were unable to reopen.
- Phase 2 (May 22-May 27): Movie theaters, bowling alleys, libraries, museums, non-tribal casinos and community centers are able to reopen, and rec sports leagues can restart — as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to. Gatherings are extended to 15 people or more. Bars and swimming pools will still be closed, and large concert venues, fairs and summer camps will still be prohibited.
More details are available at covid.ks.gov.
The rate of testing in Kansas has been slow — consistently one of the worst in the country.
But things are improving. The state has ordered hundreds of thousands of federally approved test kits, and dentists have used 3D printers to produce thousands of the specialized nose swabs needed to take samples.
Kansas had a hard time getting more supplies from the federal government, but that changed when the state’s meatpacking plants saw outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent supplies and experts to help control the virus’ spread and prevent the plants from shutting down.
Kansans who aren’t sick enough for hospitalization and don’t work certain essential jobs may still have trouble getting tested. Hospitals and clinics want more rapid testing platforms and kits.
Under a new federal law, you should not have to pay for your coronavirus test, regardless of insurance status (but patients could still see related bills).
HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?
Public and private universities and community colleges in the state will finish this semester via online classes. Spring sports have been canceled. Most staff travel has been suspended. Graduations at KU, K-State and Wichita State are postponed or rescheduled.
The University of Kansas, Wichita State and K-State also plan to hold summer classes online. KU and K-State announced hiring freezes in early April.
HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?
In mid-March, Kansas became the first state in the U.S. to shut down school buildings for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. A state task force then issued guidance for distance learning, for which students aren’t expected to spend more than a few hours a day.
Some districts that make high schoolers earn more credits than required by the state will graduate them this year based on the state’s lower bar.
Districts across the state are still providing free meals to eligible children, but some have stopped because of concerns about the coronavirus spreading at meal pickup sites.
WHAT IN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE IS AFFECTED?
- Church gatherings and funerals: Starting May 4, services can go ahead, but with social distancing rules.
- State tax deadline: Extended until July 15, in line with a delay for filing federal tax forms.
- Evictions: Business and residential evictions are banned until May 1 if a tenant is unable to pay because of the coronavirus.
- Small businesses: May be eligible for emergency federal loans. Find information here.
- Hospitality businesses: Kansas created an emergency loan program, which quickly ran out of funds, but businesses can still apply to help the state assess the need for more assistance.
- Utilities: Evergy, which serves 950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect residential or business services for an unspecified amount of time.
- Gatherings: Allowed if kept to 10 people and social distancing is possible.
- State of emergency: Gov. Laura Kelly’s declaration has been extended to May 25. The declaration allows the government more power to marshal resources and Kelly the ability to make certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.
- Prisons and jails: The Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video visits. County jails largely have ended visitations as well.
SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is mandating home quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below; these changed May 12. If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19 exposure.
- Maryland on or after May 12.
- Massachusetts and Rhode Island on or after April 30.
- Connecticut on or after April 6.
- Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
- New York on or after March 15.
- Cruise ships or river cruises on or after March 15.
- International travel on or after March 15.
People who need to continue to quarantine include those told by public health officials to do so because of:
- Cruise ship travel or who traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran.
- Notification that you were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Some doctors recommend patients with COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they test negative for the disease, because of concerns that current testing approaches may be producing a significant number of false negatives.
HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS?
COVID-19 usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID IT?
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Frequently.
- Cover your coughs.
- The CDC now recommends wearing a cloth mask in situations where social distancing isn’t possible; instructions for sewn and non-sewn versions are here.
- If you’re an older Kansan or medically fragile, limit your trips to the grocery store or any public space.
- Stay home if you are sick — this goes for all ages.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COVID-19
Kansas Department of Health and Environment: http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
Spanish translation by Simon Oliva, Marcela Renna, Leigh Rysko, and Cristina Seyler in partnership with America Amplified. If you have any questions or concerns about the translation, please email Jennifer@americaamplified.org.
The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.