Kansas coronavirus death toll reaches 9

As a statewide stay-at-home order took effect Monday and Kansas’ coronavirus death toll grew to nine, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for the state.

Trump’s order allows for federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release Monday from the White House.

Dr. Lee Norman, the state’s health secretary, said Monday that a nursing home chain linked to a COVID-19 death in the Kansas City area has reported at least seven positive coronavirus cases at another of its homes in eastern Kansas.

Norman said the Life Care Center in Burlington, about 60 miles south of Topeka, has reported cases among its residents and staff. A resident at the Life Care Center in Kansas City, Kansas, was the first COVID-19-related fatality reported in the state on March 12th.  Both are operated by a company that also runs a Washington state nursing home linked to 22 deaths.

The Kansas Legislature adjourned March 19 for an early and unusually long annual spring break, finishing a budget to keep state government operating after June.  Lawmakers are scheduled to return April 27 to wrap up business for the year, but that’s only three days after state health officials are predicting a peak in the number of coronavirus cases in Kansas.

“It would be highly unlikely that we would want to have people congregating in that manner that soon after the peak,” he said. “I don’t second-guess the Legislature, but I think it would unwise to gather people that soon after a peak.”

Governor Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order for all 2.9 million Kansas residents took effect Monday as the numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related deaths continued to grow.

At last count Monday, state health officials said that Kansas has 368 cases, up from 319 on Sunday.  State officials reported nine deaths, including four in Wyandotte County.  The order includes exceptions for religious worship and buying, selling and manufacturing guns and ammunition. The order will remain in force until at least April 19.

The latest two victims are a Sedgwick County man over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions and a woman in her 40s in Crawford County.  The deaths are the first in the southern part of the state.  Most of the others were in the Kansas City area.

The number of cases grew 15% from Sunday, but that’s a lower growth rate than in recent days. The number of cases has more than tripled in six days, on track to meet Norman’s prediction that the state could have 400 cases by the end of this month.

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