Coronavirus Pandemic


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Testing of close contact exposure to COVID-19 has been a major factor in the increase in the known number of cases in Ford County.


According to Ford County administrator J.D. Gilbert, on Monday, Ford County added 42 cases to its growing list.


"The reason why we are seeing such an increase is that the health department investigation staff is being aggressive in testing of close contacts — even those that are asymptomatic," Gilbert said. "There is not necessarily an increase in cases in Ford County, we are simply testing more people and actively looking for any evidence of community spread.


"We are simply identifying as many current cases as we possibly can as opposed to ’passive surveillance.’ “


During the weekend, Ford County cases reached the triple digits.


On Monday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment daily report showed Ford County has 180 cases with 362 tests conducted.


There has been one hospitalization and zero deaths in Ford County so far.


With western Kansas numbers on the rise, KDHE said additional staff had been sent to western Kansas on Friday.


"KDHE is sending additional staff to work with local health department officials regarding expanded testing for Western Kansas," said KDHE communications director Kristi Zears.


Additionally KDHE said that as of Friday, two clusters had been identified in Ford County in private businesses, with three clusters in private businesses in Finney County and one cluster at a private business in Seward County.


"A cluster is two or more confirmed cases associated to one known exposure," Zears said. "An example would be two positive cases resulting from being at a birthday party with someone who tests positive."


With testing standards, according to Ford County physician adviser Dr. R.C. Trotter, the threshold for testing was lowered, which led to more identified cases.


"We didn't wait for any symptoms to start showing to test," Trotter said. "The waiting for a temperature of 100.3 is an error. We had cases with people that had a headache or a back ache.


"Once we lowered the threshold the cases went through the roof as we have seen. Of the patients we see, 60% to 70% coming through test positive."


Trotter added that additional test kits from KDHE arrived on Monday but one issue that has arrived has been getting test results returned.


As of last week, test results took around 40-48 hours. With more tests being conducted, results have had a slower turnaround time.


"We're having to tell people to stay home and wait a few extra days and a lot of them are not even symptomatic," Trotter said. "But with everything that has taken place to this point it is something that needs to continue."


The numbers now seem high, but Trotter said things could have been much worse.


"The nursing homes shutting down as quick as they did was key," he said. "A lot of the patients we are seeing are in the 35-55 age range. For those 65-plus, there have not been many, and that's because the nursing homes were quick to react the way they did."


Going forward, Trotter said, social isolation is key.


"The virus was here, but we awakened a sleeping bear when we ramped up our testing," he said. "To get out of this, follow the rules. Wear the mask — it's not for you, it's for others not to get this. Social distancing does work, we have to keep at it."


For the state, the number of COVID-19 cases were 1,986 with 405 hospitalizations, 100 deaths and 16,775 negative tests.


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.