Kansas ‘stay at home’ order issued

On Saturday, March 28, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order No. 20-16, which directs Kansans to  “stay at home” unless performing an essential activity. This order came after the the number of positive cases for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, had increased drastically in the past week. All COVID-19 information in this issue is updated as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 31.

The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19 – has increased significantly this past week in the State of Kansas and throughout the entire United States. While there are still no confirmed cases in Nemaha or Brown counties as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, many counties in Kansas are continuing or are beginning to develop new cases.

The number of cases has grown since last week. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, there are 428 positive cases in Kansas, with 219 of the patients being female and 209 being male. Two out-of-state residents have tested positive while in the State of Kansas, bringing the total number of cases in Kansas to 430. Currently there have been nine deaths in Kansas, up from the two deaths reported one week ago.

To see a full list of Kansas counties with COVID-19 cases, visit https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, March 31, there are a total of 163,539 confirmed cases in the United States, which have resulted in 2,860 deaths.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread of the virus is most likely between people who are in close contact with one another – within about six feet.

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus, and the goal right now — across the community, state and nation — is to minimize the spread, or “flatten the curve.”

On Saturday, March 28, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order No. 20-16, which directs Kansans to “stay at home.” This order is an effort minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Nemaha County Community Health Services Director Jane Sunderland said Governor Kelly’s order is a “critical step” to prevent and slow down the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

“In these challenging times, we are all going to have to make sacrifices and cooperate for the safety of our families and our community,” Sunderland said. “We currently have cases in northeast Kansas, so it is in the best interest of Nemaha County residents to stay at home to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19. We need to help take care of each other.”

Sunderland said – based on information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include people aged 65 years and older.

“This could have a significant impact locally as 20 percent of the Nemaha County population consists of people in this age group,” Sunderland said. “The public has great power to reduce the spread of COVID-19 simply by staying home. Outdoor activities like walking, jogging or biking are allowed and encouraged. However, social distancing of six feet apart must be maintained, as well as not being in groups of more than 10 people.”

Currently, the KDHE is mandating a 14-day home quarantine for Kansans who have traveled to certain areas. As this information is constantly changing, please see the KDHE website — www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus — for updated mandates.

PREVENTION

To protect yourself and others, the following guidance is provided by the CDC: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; if soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow; throw used tissues in the trash; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily; if surfaces are dirty, clean them; put distance between yourself and other people; avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical care; if seeking medical care, call ahead – allowing medical personnel to prepare for proper personal coverings, assistance and placement of the patient upon arrival; and if you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people.

To prepare for a potential situation in which you are unable to obtain medicine, food or supplies: shop with a purpose and aim for a seven- to 14-day supply of medicine, food and household supplies; make sure your prescriptions are stocked and up to date; and create a supply kit that includes water or hydrating drinks, non-perishable food and fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

SYMPTOMS

The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Patients with COVID-19 have experienced mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Symptoms can include, but are not limited, the following: fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cough and shortness of breath.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, seek medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs include the following: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion or inability to arouse; and bluish lips or face.

Hospitals/Healthcare

Sabetha Community Hospital

Sabetha Community Hospital (SCH) continues to request patients who are exhibiting a fever, cough, etc., to call before they come to the clinic or hospital. Patients coming in for lab or x-ray are reporting to the emergency room (ER) doors, being screened and then provided services. Outpatients present at the old ER are screened prior to receiving their services.

As of Monday, March 30, SCH has tested five patients for COVID-19. Four of those tests have come back negative, and the hospital is still waiting for the results on one.

SCH’s tests are being sent to KDHE and Stormont Vail. The turnaround time for test results is still three to four days.

SCH has confirmed they do not have an abundance of testing supplies.

Hiawatha Community Hospital

Hiawatha Community Hospital is still in “call before you come” protocol to prevent patients from showing up for the clinic, outpatient procedures and the emergency department without being screened.

Callers who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms – fever, cough and shortness of breath – are directed to the COVID line that is staffed with a nurse who will collect information and review symptoms and travel history. If the nurse and practitioner deem a test necessary, the patient will be called back for a drive-through screening. Staff wearing personal protective equipment will come and collect nasal samples. Several tests are given. The first one is a rapid flu test; if negative, another test for other viruses will be run. If that test is negative, a sample will be sent to KDHE or a reference lab for COVID testing.

As of Sunday, March 29, HCH has tested 21 patients through the drive-through collection line. Twenty-two samples have been sent for analysis; 13 tests have been negative, and nine are still pending results. Currently, the reference lab is taking four to five days to return results.

The Sabetha Herald reached out to Nemaha Valley Community Hospital and NEK Multi-County Health, but did not receive a response.

Schools

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met at for a special board meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at the USD 113 Board Office in Sabetha. There were multiple items on the agenda that the Board considered during the meeting. Those items were as follows:

• Moving the April 13, 2020, board meeting from Axtell to Sabetha;

• Approving a resolution regarding wage payments during emergency school closings;

• Approving a waiver — including the district’s continuous learning plan — for the mandated 1,116 hours.

In a video released prior to the meeting, USD 113 Superintendent Todd Evans said the waiver is to allow Prairie Hills USD No. 113 to not meet the requirement of 1,116 hours, which is the “minimum number of hours set for a school year for a school district.”

For the 2019-20 school year, the district has completed 882.8 hours and is requesting to waive 233.2 hours.

Since the school district requires their Continuous Learning Plan in place by April 8, 2020, the board voted on the document during Tuesday’s meeting.

These meeting minutes were not available at The Herald’s press time, and the full story will be published in the April 8, 2020, issue of The Sabetha Herald.

Governor’s Executive Orders

March 24, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-14

This order limits mass gatherings in Kansas to 10 persons, which replaced the previous order, Executive Order No. 20-04, limiting mass gatherings to 50 persons.

The decision was based on updated guidance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and modeled from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), which projected cases of COVID-19 in Kansas could sharply rise to a range of 300 to 900 by the end of the month.

“While none of us wanted to see this Executive Order further limiting the size of gatherings, it is necessary to help slow the spread of the coronavirus within our communities,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “We learn more about this virus every day and we are seeing serious cases in every age group – not just among our seniors. The most effective way we can slow down the spread is to stay home and practice good hygiene techniques.”

March 24, 2020: Executive Order No. 20-15

This order details the Kansas Essential Functions Framework (KEFF) that counties will be required to use if local officials determine it is necessary to issue stay-at-home orders.

Stay-at-home orders require residents to not leave their homes unless they are engaged in activities essential to the health and safety of themselves, family members or friends. Essential activities include, but are not limited to, seeking medical attention, purchasing food or filling up gas tanks.

March 25, 2020: Senate Bill 66

Senate Bill 66 is the state’s budget bill for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021. Governor Kelly issued no line item vetoes.

“I appreciate the bipartisan work of lawmakers to approve a budget swiftly in the midst of an unprecedented global public health pandemic,” Kelly said. “I particularly commend legislators for approving $65 million to help support our coronavirus response efforts in Kansas.”

While Kelly applauded legislators’ work and for approving a budget “swiftly,” she warned against adding any unnecessary new spending when the Legislature returns for its annual wrap-up session in April. Excluding coronavirus-related expenditures, the Kansas Legislature spent more than $100 million more from the State General Fund than Kelly initially recommended in January, with another $100 million in potential enhancements delayed until the omnibus budget.

March 28, 2020: Executive Order 20-16

Executive Order 20-16 directs Kansans to stay home unless performing essential activities.

Essential activities include the following: obtaining food, medicine and other household necessities; going to and from work at a business or organization performing an essential function as identified in the Kansas Essential Function Framework; seeking medical care; caring for children, family members or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location; and engaging in an outdoor activity, provided individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gathering size.

Kelly said the action is necessary for three key reasons: to provide statewide uniformity in response efforts; to prevent from overwhelming hospitals – especially rural hospitals that may not have the same capacity to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients; and to buy Kansas more time as state officials work with federal partners to secure badly needed protective personal equipment (PPE), additional ventilators and COVID-19 testing supplies.

See the entire executive order at https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EO20-16.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3cysPXQ_59bjO-mawdu0gfvFS9eyn5pQlGev_VmRlEpNdrIuO86mdOzC4.

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The Sabetha Herald has been serving Sabetha since 1876.

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