Total cases in Kansas
(as of June 1)
Total cases in Harvey County
(as of June 1)
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Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people. It was first identified in an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China toward the end of 2019. The first United States case was announced Jan. 21, 2020. The first case in Kansas was identified in Johnson County on March 7. Harvey County confirmed its first COVID-19 case on March 26.

What makes COVID-19 different than other respiratory illnesses like the flu?

The challenge of COVID-19 is there is no verified treatment or vaccine at this time. Researchers across the world continue to strive to learn more about COVID-19. There are many types of human coronaviruses, but COVID-19 is novel because it had not previously been seen in humans. The name COVID-19 is an abbreviation of (co)rona(vi)rus (d)isease 20(19).

How does COVID-19 spread?

Health experts are still identifying details about COVID-19. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person after they begin to show symptoms. Coronaviruses can spread through the air by coughing, sneezing, or speech, or close contact such as touching or shaking hands. It is more likely to spread when in close contact with a person in a 6-foot range. There is no current evidence that COVID-19 transmission is associated with food or drinking water.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Additional symptoms can include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure. In severe cases, infection can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. The illness seems to be more severe in older individuals and people with underlying health conditions. If you feel ill with COVID-19 symptoms, call your medical provider to discuss symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a self-checker guide available.

How can I help protect myself and my family?

Everyday preventative steps can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Should I wear a face cover? 

The CDC announced April 3 that it has begun recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings when it is difficult to maintain social distancing and in areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC urges not to use surgical masks or N95 respirators, as those are critical supplies needed for medical professionals and first responders.

Can I help provide supplies to medical professionals and first responders?

Additional resources are in need across the United States. While Harvey County organizations have the needed materials in stock now, there may be a future shortage as the availability of supply chains tighten due to global demand. Harvey County Emergency Management handles resource coordination, and would gladly accept additional supplies from the public. Some of the most desired items include:

  • N95 respirators
  • Surgical masks
  • Face shields
  • Disposable gowns
  • Coveralls
  • Latex and nitrile exam gloves

If you have supplies you would like to provide, please contact Emergency Management at 316-284-6910 or the Harvey County Courthouse at 316-284-6800. Supplies can also be taken to The Salvation Army in Newton, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Is Kansas under a Stay Home order?

No. A previous Stay Home order issued by the State expired May 3. Harvey County has implemented the Harvey County Health Reopening Plan. The County remains in Phase Two of the plan through June 2. 

Individual counties, including those surrounding Harvey County, may have plans more or less restrictive that best suit their specific outlook and data. Please check with those specific counties for their local orders.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means purposely maintaining more physical space between yourself and another person. Social distancing recommendations are to be at least 6 feet away from another person, and no more than 10 minutes within 6 feet of someone if necessary. This helps reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.

What does 'flattening the curve' mean?

Flattening the curve is an important principle because it helps lessen the strain on the medical community. If COVID-19 cases increase at a rapid rate, it also increases the workload of medical professionals and can quickly deplete available resources. To subdue that, measures like limiting mass gatherings and social distancing are put in place. This 'flattens the curve,' meaning the number of new cases would come in more slowly over time, allowing medical professionals more time in the treatment process.

Why would someone need to quarantine or isolate?

Isolation separates people with a contagious disease from the well population. A quarantine separates and restricts the movement of someone who was exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Both directives are meant to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Those in home quarantine should not attend school, work or any other setting where they cannot maintain a 6-foot distance from other people.

Are we allowed to travel inside or outside the United States?

As of March 19, the U.S. Department of State advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel. Kansas' reopening plan advises against all non-essential travel.

Who should quarantine?

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment mandates a 14-day quarantine for Kansans who have:

  • Traveled to Massachusetts or Rhode Island on or after April 30.
  • Traveled to Connecticut on or after April 6.
  • Traveled to New York on or after March 15.
  • Traveled to Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
  • Traveled to Maryland on or after May 12.
  • Traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15. Those previously told by public health to quarantine because of cruise ship travel should finish out their quarantine.
  • Traveled internationally on or after March 15. Those previously told by public health to quarantine because of their international travel to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran should finish out their quarantine.

What is the testing criteria in Kansas?

The KDHE's guidance for testing currently includes - among other, more direct criteria - having at least one of the following symptoms without an alternate, more likely diagnosis: fever, chills, rigors, myalgia, malaise, headache, sore throat, lower respiratory illness, new olfactory and taste disorders, or diarrhea.

What is the difference between a negative, probable, or confirmed case?

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and some private laboratories conduct COVID-19 testing results. A negative COVID-19 test is simply that, negative. The KDHE provides confirmation of a confirmed test that has been completed by either the KDHE or a private lab.

The KDHE also includes probable test results in its case counts. Harvey County has had four probable cases. Two cases were probable because they met clinical criteria with a positive lab test for blood work, but were negative in testing for an active COVID-19 virus. Two other cases were probable because they were serology tested - but not nasal swab tested - by their provider because they were close contacts to someone with COVID-19, but did not show any symptoms themselves.

For answers to more common questions, visit the CDC and the KDHE websites.

(Updated May 26, 2020)