Gov. Kelly announces first COVID-19 related death in Kansas


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Governor Laura Kelly and several state officials held a news conference at Thursday evening to discuss developments regarding the coronavirus.

Gov. Kelly was joined by Dr. Lee Norman, secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Laura Howard, secretary for the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Department for Aging and Disability Services; Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli and Brigadier General David A. Weishaar.

Governor Kelly announced a man in his 70’s from Wyandotte County has died from COVID-19. He did have underlying health issues. Officials said he was in a long-term care facility.

Officials are working to find out who he may have been in contact with.

“We have talked a lot about what will be the new normal with the coronavirus,” Dr. Lee Norman said.

Officials are setting up a hotline for general questions about the coronavirus that you can call at 866-534-3463.

Declaring a state of emergency opens up Kansas Response plan, which will bring in emergency function agency heads.

Officials say this is a classic public health tracing situation to find out where this man got the disease.

The center for Medicare and Medicaid services issued a detailed best practices for facilities across the country. That includes screenings for those coming into the facilities, asking detailed questions about travel history, and sometimes going as far as restricting access completely.

Secretary Laura Howard, with the Department of Aging and Disability Services said the nursing facilities in our state are taking these guidelines seriously. She said state officials will be releasing more guidelines for facilities to follow.

Dozens of senior care facilities have already restricted access to visitors. You can find a full list here.

Secretary Howard, they understand the short-term restriction can be frustrating, but it is in the best interest of community safety.

“It’s really critical to understand that they [visitors at nursing homes] can be carrying the coronavirus and it’s really hard, in a nursing home to turn away visitors. So it’s a balancing act, but it’s one of those decisions that was made very carefully because we don’t want to have too many visitors that could be infectious,” Dr. Lee Norman said.

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