Kansas Department of Health and Environment

LAWRENCE, KANSAS — Herington Municipal Hospital got fed up with long waits for lab results that would tell its patients with respiratory symptoms whether they have the novel coronavirus.

So when a sales representative called the 25-bed hospital in rural central Kansas offering tests that produce results in less than half an hour, Herington ordered 500.

“We answered the phone on the right day,” CEO Isabel Schmedemann said in an interview this week. “I wish we had ordered more.”

One hundred people in her community have already come in for the test.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

TOPEKA -- Kansas' top health official faced questions Thursday over the state's monitoring of GPS data gleaned from people's cellphones about how residents have cut down on travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Joe Meier’s hospital in Wilson County has 15 beds, no intensive care unit and one ventilator. Two of his neighboring counties in southeast Kansas have no hospital at all, and another two have no ICU either.

So Meier has a plea to the residents of his region: Stay home.

"It's not a matter of 'if' (COVID-19) is going to hit here,' he said. "It’s a matter of when."

Johnson County health officials scaled back testing for coronavirus this week after determining that the county has community transmission.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says the state needs to prioritize testing in other places due to limited test supplies. But some public experts say the move will limit efforts to combat COVID-19.

Nicole Grimes, KMUW

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.

Update: 7:30 p.m.

A 70-year-old man who lived in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County is the first known death from the new coronavirus in Kansas, state officials said Thursday night.

Kansas also has declared a state of emergency, which gives the government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan.

File / U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Wikipedia

Testing for the coronavirus in Kansas has so far been done at the state level, but health leaders say that could change in a few weeks.

This story was updated at 7 p.m., March 7.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas has its first case of the new coronavirus, officials announced Saturday. 

The Johnson County woman infected with the virus appears to have contracted her illness while traveling in the northeastern United States, state and local public health officials said at a Statehouse news conference early Saturday evening. She was tested earlier this week for COVID-19. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

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.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Republican legislative leaders blocking a push to give Medicaid coverage to about 130,000 more Kansans say they fear the expansion’s impact on publicly funded abortions. Other Republicans and Democrats reject that argument as a red herring.

The Kansas News Service has learned that Medicaid has paid for a total of four abortions in the state between Jan. 1, 2013, and this month.

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