At least four new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Leavenworth County. And the county clerk is making contingencies in case the August primary is disrupted by the outbreak of the disease.
Three newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported Wednesday morning in a news release from the Leavenworth County Health Department. And a daily update released in the afternoon by the Health Department indicated there was a fourth new case Wednesday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 12.
Three of the new cases involve a man in his 70s, a man in his 50s and a man in his 30s.
The man in his 70s is reported to recently have traveled. The man in his 50s has no recent travel history but is known to have had close contact with someone else who tested positive for COVID-19. The man in his 30s has no recent travel history, according to a news release.
They remain quarantined at home along with family members.
Additional information was not provided about the fourth new case.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, 118 people have been tested for the coronavirus in Leavenworth County. Ninety-three of the people tested negative for the disease. Twelve people have tested positive, and results were pending for 13 tests.
Leavenworth County Health Department officials indicated Wednesday morning they would stop issuing news releases to report on new cases. Instead, new cases will be reported through a daily update that provides data about the number of people in the county who have been tested for COVID-19.
Health Department officials were said to be working Wednesday to identify people who have had close contact with those who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Health Department officials previously confirmed that COVID-19 cases have been reported in the cities of Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor and Tonganoxie.
All of Leavenworth County remains under an emergency public health order.
The order directs people to stay home but permits them to perform essential activities, such as buying groceries, outside of the home. The order also directs businesses to cease operations but grants exceptions for businesses that are considered essential.
County Clerk Janet Klasinski told county commissioners Wednesday that her office and other election officials in the state have been working on contingency plans for the Aug. 4 primary election.
"I know that seems like it’s several months away," Klasinski said. "But when you’re planning an election, it just gets closer and closer each day."
County Commissioner Mike Stieben said he hopes conditions related to the coronavirus outbreak will change by August.
"Well, we just cannot wait until August," Klasinski said.
The county clerk, who serves as the county’s election officer, said she has to move forward with what she feels is best for voters. And at this time, she is encouraging people to apply to receive advance ballots by mail.
"I want to have as many advance applications come through" as possible, Klasinski said.
She noted that the County Clerk’s office typically hires about 200 people to help with elections. But many of the election workers would be considered to be in the vulnerable population for the coronavirus.
The Leavenworth County Courthouse currently is closed to the public due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
But Klasinski said the County Clerk’s section on the county website, www.leavenworthcounty.gov, includes links for voter registration and advance ballot application forms.
People also can contact her office at 913-684-0421 to have forms mailed to them.
Officers with the Leavenworth Police Department were making contact with business owners Wednesday regarding the emergency public health order, which went into effect a day earlier.
"They went through the entire community," Police Chief Pat Kitchens said of the officers.
Kitchens said officers were visiting at least some of the businesses that remained open Wednesday. He said there were a small number of business owners who may have misunderstood the order or were "stretching" a particular provision to justify remaining open.
Kitchens said no citations were issued.
Leavenworth County Health Department officials continue to urge people to practice good hygiene, stay informed, practice social distancing and limit in-person interactions. A person who is experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever or other respiratory problems should call his or her health care provider or an urgent care clinic first to determine if testing is needed. If symptoms are mild, a person should not go to the emergency room, as this resource needs to remain available for those with the most critical needs, according to a news release.