Kansas: Coronavirus variant did not cause prison outbreak

Prison bars
Posted at 1:29 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 14:29:21-05

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A coronavirus variant did not cause a fast-moving outbreak at a Kansas prison that infected dozens of inmates and staff, the state health department said Monday.

Testing determined that the COVID-19 outbreak at the minimum-security Winfield Correctional Facility in south-central Kansas was not caused by virus variants first detected in Great Britain or South Africa, said Kristi Zears, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The state Department of Corrections reported that as of Thursday, the Winfield prison had 14 active cases among staff and 112 among its population of about 450 inmates.

State officials have said the outbreak developed within a few days after two weeks of no cases, leading public health officials to suspect a coronavirus variant. The health department used genomic testing to determine whether a variant was involved.

Concerns about a variant in Kansas came with new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases dropping. The state averaged 1,059 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, the lowest rolling seven-day average since late October, based on state health department data.

Kansas reported 1,983 new cases since Friday to make the pandemic total 276,668. It reported 30 additional deaths in three days to make the total 3,809.