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Kansas reports over 5,000 new COVID-19 cases; new clusters in long-term care, education

Andrew Bahl
abahl@gannett.com
Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman discusses COVID-19 updates during a news conference Tuesday at the Statehouse. The state reported 5,672 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday.

The state reported over 5,000 COVID-19 cases again Wednesday, as the number of clusters statewide also saw a significant rise.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 5,672 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday. It also reported an increase of 34 deaths and 114 hospitalizations in that time frame.

The state’s test positivity rate increased to 41.3%, according to Johns Hopkins University, the sixth highest such rate in the country.

Seven long-term care facilities are now listed as COVID-19 clusters, according to KDHE. It comes after Topeka Presbyterian Manor announced its first resident death from the virus.

That is in addition to an outbreak reported Tuesday at the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center.

Statewide, roughly a third of COVID-19 clusters remain concentrated in long-term care facilities.

But other outbreaks are increasing as well. KDHE reported 10 private businesses, including two meatpacking plants in Ford County, were considered clusters.

Other outbreaks have occurred in the Pittsburg State football team, the Thomas County courthouse and over a dozen schools across the state.

And hospitals are reporting that capacity continues to tighten. Stormont Vail Health reported Wednesday that it was treating 63 COVID-19 patients.

Stormont Vail CEO Robert Kenagy said the outbreak continued to put “immense pressure” on the system. Some hospitals have said they are beginning to weigh delaying elective procedures, although Kenagy said that wouldn’t be necessary — for now.

“We continue to have all of our services open, but have developed contingency plans to manage the surge as it impacts our communities and our operations,” he said in a statement.

Statewide, 33% of intensive care beds are listed as available, according to KDHE data, although facilities are able to scale up if necessary.

But Gov. Laura Kelly and KDHE Secretary Lee Norman underscored Tuesday at a news conference that some facilities are running low on staff and are out of bed space.

“Hospital admissions are the result of community spread,” Norman said. “We need community support to push down the spread of the virus. Competition for beds is getting steeper all the time.”

Kelly said she was not yet considering any sort of statewide mitigation efforts, instead choosing to work with local governments and Republican legislators.

That could change if case counts continue to remain high, she said.

“If we cannot come up with a consensus that will work we will revisit that,” Kelly said.