WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly provided an update on the coronavirus situation in Kansas during a conference call Friday morning. Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Dr. Lee Norman joined her on the phone call.
The call was for public officials and included the Kansas Adjutant General and city and county leaders.
Dr. Norman repeated the numbers that the KDHE released on its website today: 84 more deaths in the past two days along with 5,939 new cases and 121 new hospitalizations. Norman said about 7% of the people who are ill with coronavirus get hospitalized. He said the death rate has increased slightly to 1.5%.
Norman also said a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report released at noon today could get national attention. He says it shows that mask mandates work to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
He also spoke of the strain Kansas hospitals are under. He said staffing is one of the biggest problems.
“We have a lot of empty beds in hospitals throughout the state of Kansas because they are unstaffed beds,” Norman said.
He said the State Emergency Operations Center is aggressively working to increase staffing and helping hospitals find available beds around the state.
“After more than eight months of nonstop work, our physicians, nurses, correctional officers and healthcare workers are facing fatigue, exhaustion and desperation just when we need them most,” Norman said. “What we must do is push down the number of new cases.”
Kansas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. David Weishaar gave an update on what his office and team have been doing to help the state. Amonth the items he mentioned is the National Guard supplying meals that will go to people who might otherwise go hungry because of a loss of income.
“There’s a food insecurity issue across the state as a result of this public health issue,” he said. “We’ve packaged 8 million meals and delivered meals to several food banks across the state. We continue to do that today.”
Weishaar says they recently got a 30-day extension from FEMA to continue to package meals.
His team has also helped to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies and samples. The team also provides shelter for coronavirus patients and/or caregivers who don’t have a safe place to quarantine or isolate.
The governor reiterated that adhering to a face-covering protocol diligently will not take away freedom, but rather allow more freedom for people and businesses.