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Sedgwick County Man Dies From COVID-19

Sarah Petty

A Sedgwick County man has died from COVID-19 less than a week after he tested positive for the disease.

Family members say in a social media post that Don Crable of south Wichita went from walking and talking to being on life support with a ventilator in less than 24 hours. He died Sunday in a Wichita hospital.

County health officials say Crable was over the age of 60 and had underlying health issues when he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Crable is the first death in Sedgwick County related to the coronavirus.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of this individual,” Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner said in a news release. “Our deepest condolences go out to his friends, family, and loved ones.”

Statewide, the disease has claimed at least eight lives in less than two weeks.

County Health Director Adrienne Byrne says as of Monday afternoon, there were at least 48 people in Sedgwick County with COVID-19 based on testing. The number of known coronavirus infections more than doubled from Friday’s count of 21. Health officials say there are likely several hundred people with coronavirus in the community.

Byrne says the new cases are not travel related, and appear to have come from “community spread.” She says the Sedgwick County Health Department continues to investigate all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our county, and monitors people who have been in close contact with cases.

The county is conducting drive-thru coronavirus testing by appointment only. As more resources and testing supplies become available, Byrne says the county will likely expand drive-thru testing.

County manager Tom Stolz says the number of coronavirus infections is expected to continue rising. He says Wichita hospitals continue to prepare for an expected surge of new patients in the coming weeks.

“[Hospitals] are looking at a window of peak anywhere between middle of April and first week of May," Stolz said. "They were adamant that this stay-at-home order is so critical right now."

Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide stay-at-home order Saturday, four days after Sedgwick County’s 30-day public health order took effect. The state’s rule runs until April 19. County officials say if the state order expires as planned, the county’s order would go back into place to keep residents home until April 24.

As of Monday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 368 cases of COVID-19 statewide.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.