State reports over 6,000 COVID-19 cases since Wednesday as counties devise new restrictions
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday 6,282 new coronavirus cases since Wednesday, with the state again posting a record two-day total for new infections.
The state also reported an increase of 41 deaths and 75 hospitalizations in that same time frame. An average of 42.6% of all tests conducted in the last week are coming back positive, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
And the weekly report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force has Kansas among the top 10 worst states in the country for both test positivity and the number of per capita deaths due to the virus.
The news comes as local governments across the state are imposing new restrictions aimed at halting the virus’s spread.
New guidelines in Shawnee County will reduce the size of allowable mass gatherings to 10 people and also trims the hours bars can be open, as well as their capacity.
“The only solution, the only way out of this crisis, is to reduce community transmission,” Gianfranco Pezzino, the county’s health officer, said Thursday. “There is no other way.”
In Douglas County, the mass gathering limit was dropped from 45 to 15. And in Sedgwick County, officials said earlier this week that they would begin levying up to $500 in fines on those who violate a stricter set of rules for businesses.
Meanwhile, officials in Garden City have implemented a mask mandate despite Finney County declining to issue such an order. It comes as at least two other counties in the state, Jefferson and Lyon, have reversed course and elected to require face coverings.
Meanwhile, health officials in the Kansas City, Kan., area published an open letter to elected officials asking for more restrictions on in-person dining and gatherings in the region in an effort to avoid a more comprehensive shutdown.
“We urge everyone to take these steps now to give us a chance to avoid more drastic orders,” the officials wrote. “Do it for your community, for your friends and for your family.”
Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said the system’s flagship hospital in Kansas City, Kan., had begun deferring elective surgeries and procedures.
“Our hospital beds are almost full, and in some places they are full, all across our city,” Stites said.
Over a third of hospitals are reporting that they will be facing a staffing shortage in the coming week, according to data published by the Kansas Hospital Association. Those numbers are worst in the south-central part of the state, where 55% of facilities say they will be short on staff.
Statewide, 33% of intensive care beds are available with adequate staff to support them.