Kansas Officials Preparing For Potential Coronavirus Fight

Mar 4, 2020

Kansas health officials are monitoring up to a dozen people a day for the possibility that they have the new coronavirus and the state health department now can do its own testing, the department’s top official said Wednesday.

Secretary Lee Norman had a news conference with Gov. Laura Kelly a day after the Department of Health and Environment launched an online resource center to disseminate information about the virus that causes COVID-19. A legislative committee also approved an increase in state aid to local health departments, and health and emergency management officials briefed Kansas Senate leaders.

Kansas so far has had no confirmed cases of the virus, which first emerged in China.

Norman said the federal Centers for Disease Control certified the state health department’s lab 10 days ago so that it can now do testing of swabs taken from potential coronavirus patients. That will allow the state to confirm cases in four to six hours, rather than five days, Norman said.

“It’s just a matter of time until we have a positive case in Kansas,” he said.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a proposed budget for the state health department with an extra $1.9 million for local health departments, an increase of almost 5%. Kelly’s administration could have its own proposal later.