The COVID-19 pandemic has reached the highest levels of Sedgwick County government.
County Manager Tom Stolz and at least three other county employees are dealing with coronavirus infections. Several other employees are in quarantine as a precaution.
Stolz says he tested positive on Monday, Sept. 21, and immediately went into isolation at home. He says he was feeling good for most of last week, but by Friday was experiencing some of the common COVID-19 symptoms.
"A little bit of a fever, a headache and really some pretty heavy fatigue," he said. "Fatigue like I’ve never had in my life."
Stolz did not need to be hospitalized for treatment. He says he's feeling better this week and has been working from home as much as he can.
"The best way I can describe it to people is that sometimes you feel really good, and then sometimes you just feel really bad," he said. "And that’s just kind of what I’m going through right now."
Since March, Stolz has led Sedgwick County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also involved in the review process set up to evaluate requests for the county’s $99 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding.
The Sedgwick County Health Department is investigating the virus spread and trying to determine a potential source of exposure. As of Tuesday afternoon, the outbreak was not considered an active cluster because there were fewer than five cases at the county offices.
A county representative says the employees who tested positive are recovering at home, and expected to return to work next week.
All five county commissioners were tested, and results came back negative, according to county officials.
Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner says several county agencies have already seen COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started in March.
"The sheriff’s department went through some stuff. The fire department had a few cases a while back, the EMS, 911, so I guess it was our turn in a way," Meitzner said.
The county’s government offices are located on the third floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita. About two dozen employees work in the manager’s office, communications department, county commission office and counselor’s office.
"I think we need to be careful with this thing. I really felt that during the pandemic that we should do everything we can to take care of one another, and take it seriously," Stolz said. "It’s not made up. It’s not fictitious. I can attest now first-hand that it’s real."