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COVID-19 Case Identified In Butler County; Sedgwick County Bans Large Gatherings

Nicole Grimes, KMUW
From left, Sedgwick County Commission chairman Pete Meitzner, Dr. Garold Minns and Adrienne Byrne, director of the county's health department, discuss a ban on large gatherings in the county because of the coronavirus.

A Butler County man in his 70s is now the sixth confirmed case of COVID-19 in Kansas.

That news came Friday morning, shortly before Sedgwick County announced it was banning gatherings larger than 250 people.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday it confirmed the latest COVID-19 case using its own lab, but has also sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for verification. KDHE said it is treating the case as positive unless testing finds otherwise.

The KDHE said the man had recently traveled outside of the United States on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. He was not symptomatic until a few days after returning.

Local county health department officials are working to identify and contact anybody who may have come into contact with the man.

Wesley Medical Center is treating the patient. Wesley officials said they are isolating the patient and following infectious disease protocols.

In addition, the hospital is restricting visitors and directing potentially symptomatic patients to use a separate entrance from other patients.

KDHE says there are currently six confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. Four others are in Johnson County and one in Wyandotte County, which resulted in a man’s death.

Sedgwick County officials say they banned public gatherings with more than 250 attendees indefinitely to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the prohibition of large public events is necessary to help keep our communities safe and healthy,” said Dr. Garolds Minns, the dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and the county’s local health officer.

As the Sedgwick County Health Department’s health officer and medical director, Minns has the authority to prohibit public gatherings under state statute.

The ban includes churches and large scheduled events, like Saturday’s Bare Knuckle Fight Championship 11 at Intrust Bank Arena. It does not include places like grocery stores.

The Wichita Symphony postponed its weekend concerts after the county's announcement.

Wichita Public Schools and other school districts in the county started spring break on Friday. County officials will decide next week what the ban will mean for schools.

While officials say no county residents have the disease, officials think some cases of COVID-19 found elsewhere in Kansas could be referred to Wichita hospitals.

Brian Grimmett is a two-time Regional Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist covering energy and environment stories across the state of Kansas.