Kansas fatalities linked to COVID-19 surpass 2,000 after two-day spike of 131 deaths

Testing identifies 5,500 more infected people as total hits 185,000

Gov. Laura Kelly instructed flags in Kansas fly at half-staff through Monday in honor of more than 2,000 Kansans who died after infected with COVID-19. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
Gov. Laura Kelly instructed flags in Kansas fly at half-staff through Monday in honor of more than 2,000 Kansans who died after infected with COVID-19. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The number of Kansans who passed away while infected with COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 and Gov. Laura Kelly ordered flags lowered to half-staff for three days in honor of the dead.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that fatalities linked to the pandemic reached 2,072, which reflected a 131-person increase during the two-day period since the Wednesday update.

KDHE said nearly 5,500 more people tested positive for the virus to bring that total since March to 185,295. Hospitalizations across Kansas continued to rise, with a 146-patient increase moving that pandemic total to 5,800.

Kelly said state flags would be lowered by executive order through sundown Monday in recognition of lives lost and the families those people left behind. It represented the second time since COVID-19 made its presence felt in Kansas that the Democratic governor instructed flags presented at half-staff.

“While COVID-19 has impacted each Kansas community differently,” Kelly said, “we all share this collective loss of our family, friends, and neighbors. We can all honor their memory by protecting each other and working together to slow the spread of this virus.”

Since the start of November, coronavirus spread dramatically throughout Kansas. KDHE’s coronavirus report issued Nov. 2 showed 89,227 known cases of COVID-19 and 1,046 deaths connected to the virus in the state. Over the subsequent 40 days, the number of Kansans who tested positive more than doubled and the death total almost doubled.

There were 15 Kansas counties with at least 1,000 cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 2. Cases were concentrated in Wyandotte County, which had more than 5,000, and in Johnson and Sedgwick counties, which both had at least 14,000.

On Friday, KDHE’s update said 29 of Kansas’ 105 counties had at least 1,000 persons infected by the virus. Douglas, Reno and Shawnee counties surpassed 5,000, Wyandotte County has more than 13,000 and Sedgwick and Johnson counties topped 32,000.

Physician David Wild, the University of Kansas Health Systems’ vice president of performance improvement, said during a news conference in Kansas City, Kansas, the seven-day average of COVID-19 patients in a hospital had increased across the nation. He said there was a dip in new cases around Thanksgiving due to a decline in the number of tests administered, and hospitals in Kansas and elsewhere could be on the cusp of a surge among patients infected during holiday gatherings.

“We really have yet to enter the point where we would expect to see the peak impact from Thanksgiving,” Wild said.