Rumors that Hays is about to go into lockdown, or that the National Guard was activated to declare martial law, are not true, say county health and emergency officials.
There are no plans for any kind of stay-at-home order from the county, said Ellis County Health Department director Jason Kennedy.
“That is not in our pandemic emergency plan,” said Kennedy. “That will have to come from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, or the governor.”
“Currently there are no plans to do that,” said Ellis County emergency manager Darin Myers, commenting on stay-at-home orders that have been issued in other Kansas counties in the past few days.
“The situations are going to dictate when that happens,” Myers said. “Even if we have a couple cases, it wouldn’t determine that. It would have to be case-by-case. If they are already quarantined, then they are no threat to the public. But if there’s widespread community transmission, where you can’t trace the individuals, that would be a whole different situation.”
The city commission could also issue a stay-at-home order, said city manager Toby Dougherty, but he’s advised against that. So far in Kansas those orders have all been issued by the county health officer, which Dougherty said gives continuity countywide.
That’s the best way, he said, since a county health officer can rely on medical information and data.
“But should they issue an order, we stand ready to assist,” Dougherty said.
As for martial law, the National Guard in Kansas was activated to deliver and distribute medical supplies, as well as to efficiently transport possible COVID-19 samples to testing labs in a timely manner, Myers said.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Ellis County didn’t have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the daily report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and Kennedy.
The Kansas National Guard on Wednesday delivered a round of medical supplies to Ellis County Emergency Services, 1105 E. 22nd.
To prepare for COVID-19 cases, Myers this weekend had placed an order online through the state’s Division of Emergency Management. He ordered protective masks, gloves, suits, testing kits and some lab equipment.
Supplies are drawn from the federal government’s National Strategic Stockpile, which supplies pharmaceuticals and supplies in response to public health emergencies.
Myers can track progress of the order, and Wednesday morning the status of the Ellis County request was “request forwarded.”
By 4 p.m. a member of the National Guard had delivered boxes with 1,500 masks, 192 face shields, 2,000 latex gloves, and 60 surgical gowns.
“Everybody is requesting the same stuff,” Myers said, so if there isn’t enough, just part of the order is shipped and the remainder is backordered.
The gear is for employees at the Ellis County Health Department, Ellis County Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, HaysMed and the Ellis County coroner.
“I want to get it distributed as soon as it comes in,” said Myers, who is also the county’s interim administrator and fire chief.
Myers’ order had requested about 75 personal protective suits, designed for one-time use but for which there is now a re-use protocol; about eight cases of medical exam gloves; thermometer covers; and more than 3,650 masks.
The county does have testing kits to sample for COVID-19.
“We have enough to sustain us for a couple more weeks,” Myers said. He’s requested 1,000 more.
Samples are taken from people who meet specific criteria, then the samples are delivered to either the state or a private lab where they are tested to detect for COVID-19.
The time frame for how long it takes to get a result isn’t well understood, according to Myers.