Kansas confirms 103,000 cases of COVID-19, capping two-week surge of nearly 25,000

By: - November 9, 2020 1:12 pm
Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Monday growth of COVID-19 across Kansas affirmed the necessity of people to adhere to recommendations to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Monday growth of COVID-19 across Kansas affirmed the necessity of people to adhere to recommendations to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas surpassed 103,500 over the weekend as the state concluded a profound two-week period in which incidence of infection grew by nearly 25,000 and the number of people who died with the virus ballooned by more than 200.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported the wave of infection was found to have reached 5,920 more Kansans from Friday to Monday, exceeding the 5,418-case rise confirmed from Wednesday to Friday. The back-to-back reports of unprecedented expansion fed anxiety among health professionals about capacity of hospitals and medical staff to handle cases requiring hospitalization.

“We know the virus is moving at an increasing rate around our state,” KDHE secretary Lee Norman said in a statement Monday. “We must remain vigilant as we enter the winter months. It’s more important than ever to get your flu shot, so that you remain healthy and we protect much-needed hospital bed space.”

More than 490 people have been admitted to a Kansas hospital with coronavius in the two weeks since Oct. 26, KDHE said.

The University of Kansas Health System was caring Monday for a record 68 patients in the acute infection stage of COVID-19, up from 53 from Friday, and an additional 28 hospitalized patients out of the most dangerous stage of infection. At HaysMed, the hospital Monday had 17 total patients with COVID-19, down from 22 on Friday.

Finney County Health Department, which includes Garden City, reported an increase of 89 COVID-19 patients on Friday. In southeast Kansas’ Crawford County the rate of infection has expanded to 22%, with the addition of at least 122 cases since Nov. 1.

In Sedgwick County, health officials said Sunday that 14,822 cases of coronavirus had been documented since March with an increase of 518 in the latest update. The 208 intensive-care unit beds at Via Christi and Wesley hospitals in Wichita were occupied last week for the first time in the pandemic, and the county’s rolling 14-day average of positive tests surpassed 20%.

Norman urged Kansans to practice social distancing and to wear a mask in a bid to deter expansion of COVID-19 in communities.

“These are proven methods to slow the spread and the only tools we have until a vaccine is readily available,” the KDHE secretary said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Laura Kelly and Norman will conduct a joint coronavirus briefing at the Capitol broadcast live at 4 p.m. on Facebook. KDHE publicly releases COVID-19 updates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The briefing with Kelly and Norman was scheduled to avoid confict with Veteran’s Day observances on Wednesday.

KDHE reported Monday the latest tracking reports pointed to 103,553 cases of infection, 4,138 hospitalizations and 1,181 deaths since the outbreak transitioned in March to Kansas. That reflected increases since Friday’s report from KDHE of 5,920 cases, 71 hospitalizations and 15 deaths.

And, here were those cumulative numbers from KDHE two weeks ago on Oct. 26: 78,676 cases, 3,646 hospitalizations annd 976 fatalities.

Kelly, the Democratic governor, issued a mask mandate in July. She sought to have every Kansas resident to wear a mask in public places where 6 feet of social distancing couldn’t be maintained. The Republican-led Kansas Legislature pushed through a law that rendered the governor’s emergency directive as advisory. Eighty of the 105 counties opted out of the mask rule.

The governor and top Republican and Democratic leaders in the Legislature recently agreed to promote the idea of mask-wearing, which became a partisan political issue during the presidential election. It’s not clear that voluntary effort has made a difference in behavior among Kansans.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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