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Governor discusses COVID-19 updates, including the state’s response to Norton County outbreak

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference from the Topeka Statehouse Wednesday afternoon to provide updates regarding COVID-19 in Kansas and to discuss the state’s response to the recent nursing home outbreak in Norton County.

In her briefing, the governor provided the latest COVID-19 numbers in Kansas, including 1,488 new positive cases and 25 deaths since Monday. There have been 74,456 infections, 3,506 hospitalizations, and 952 deaths in Kansas since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Kelly shared ongoing concerns about the number of COVID-19 cases in Kansas and encouraged the use of masks, good hygiene, social distancing, and avoiding mass gatherings.

The governor expressed her deepest condolences to the family members and loved ones, the hardworking staff of the nursing home, and the entire Norton community for the 10 residents who lost their lives in the recent nursing home coronavirus outbreak in Norton County. 

Governor Kelly said since her administration found out about the outbreak on Friday, she directed Kansas Department of Emergency Management (KDEM) to provide resources to mitigate further spread of the virus in Norton County.

The state has provided personal protective gears, test kits, ventilators, air powered respirators with cartridges, and several doses of Remdesivir toward curbing the spread in Norton County. Additionally, the KDHE is on regular communication with the Norton County Health Department and the Norton County Hospital to provide guidance and coordinate virus response.

The Kansas county had proportionally the nation’s largest increase in cases over two weeks.

“The tragic deaths in Norton are a stark reminder that COVID-19 poses a real threat to all Kansans and it doesn’t stop at county lines, as cases in communities like Norton are higher because of outbreaks in jails and nursing homes, but there is also wider community spread — outbreaks are not isolated incidents,” Governor Kelly said. “For months, many have mistakenly shared the idea that this virus would never reach our rural and lower population communities, now it is worse in those towns and counties than it is in our cities.”

Currently 2/3rd of the state’s COVID-19 cases lie outside the Wichita and Kansas City regions.

Governor Kelly said, “Harmful anti-mask and anti-science rhetoric has politicized our ability to tackle a public health issue, much of it coming from our elected leaders.” “Here’s the truth, the public health experts and scientists have done their homework and they’re all saying the same thing — it doesn’t matter if you’re in Norton County or in Johnson County, we can stop this virus if we wear masks, follow good hygiene practices, socially distance, and avoid mass gatherings,” she added.

The health department in Norton County reported Monday night that all 62 residents and an unspecified number of employees had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The nursing home’s outbreak came after more than 100 cases at the state’s prison in Norton. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Norton County had the largest number of new cases per 100,000 residents of any county in the U.S. for the two weeks ending Sunday.

On Wednesday, the Norton County Health Department released the following statement on their Facebook page: “Sorry for the delay with reporting our current numbers. We have them updated and will be posting them below. Our numbers do not always match KDHE’s numbers on the map. Results of positives sometimes come in to us before they are reported to the KDHE portal at times. We have decided to post them a little differently from now on. Thank you for your patience.”

  • Active Community Cases -37
  • Active Andbe Home Residents – 52
  • Active Andbe Home Staff – 35
  • KDOC – transferred out of county – 250
  • Current Hospitalizations – 3
  • Deaths – 10
  • Total number of cases – 464
  • Total number tested in Norton County per KDHE- 1421

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