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Johnson County patient at University of Kansas Hospital 'doing well,' officials say

Health officials anticipate more cases in state
Posted at 9:32 AM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 20:09:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Johnson County woman admitted into the University of Kansas Hospital after testing "presumptive positive" for COVID-19 is "doing well," health officials said on Monday.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Saturday announced the first case in the state is a woman under 50 years old who lives in Johnson County. On Monday, Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health, said the same woman had been admitted into the University of Kansas Hospital.

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At a news conference on Monday, hospital officials said the woman called ahead and arranged to be taken to an isolated area, also known as a "negative airflow room." Caregivers in protective personal gear coordinator her entry into the hospital, and no other patients, visitors or caregivers were exposed to the patient.

Hospital officials did not give any other details about the patient.

On Saturday, the Johnson County Health Department said it did not believe the outbreak was widespread and that it was working to notify anyone who may have had close contact with the patient.

The patient's family members are currently in voluntary quarantine and have "done everything correctly," Norman said.

Norman said that while no other cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Kansas, he expects that to change.

"We will have more cases in the state of Kansas," Norman said at the news conference at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas. "It's an ... infectious emergency, and therefore, it's going to be hard ... to contain it. We are going to get more cases. Are we prepared for it? Yes."

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of inpatient critical care and infectious diseases, said the University of Kansas Hospital already has protocols in place to handle COVID-19 and other infectious disease patients. The hospital has 38 rooms for those patients to go into isolation and can add more if needed.

"We hope for the best, prepare for the worst," Hawkinson said. "We've had these protocols, procedures in place for years. We've tried to fine-tune them as much as possible ... and so we will continue to follow our training and work with our other health care providers and protect the patients and protect the health care workers during that time."

If anyone in the metro is experiencing symptoms, they should first call their primary doctor or their county health department, according to Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System.

"It's probably better to make a phone call than it is to go running into someplace and try to immediately get care," Stites said, adding that those in need of emergency care should still call 911.

Norman said that the state of Kansas is currently running about four to six tests for COVID-19 each day. He said the state has done about 40 tests so far, with the ability to do about 60 per day without straining resources.

The University of Kansas Health System does not have the ability to test for the virus and conducts those through the state, Hawkinson said.

With the Big 12 Tournament in town this week and many asking whether they should cancel trips or avoid public gatherings, Norman said that while there's no community spread thus far in western Missouri or eastern Kansas, people should continue to be vigilant.

"I would favor moving ahead at this moment in time," Norman said. "But I will tell you this is changing every day, and we might have some different reason to believe something else tomorrow, so you'll have to stay tuned."

The doctors also continued to stress the importance of washing your hands well, coughing into your elbow, cleaning off frequently touched surfaces and staying home if you're ill.

"To stay safe, the best thing we can do is what we can do ourselves," Stites said. "That's what's going to protect our community, our families, our other patients, and ultimately our community and our nation."

As of Monday morning, more than 560 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus in the United States. Twenty-two people in Washington state, Florida and California had died from the virus.

Missouri also confirmed its first "presumptive positive" COVID-19 patient on Saturday, a St. Louis County woman in her 20s who had recently returned from Italy.