The evolving symptoms list has consistently changed in the past few weeks for Ford County persons of interest with the coronavirus.

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The symptoms list has consistently changed in the past few weeks for Ford County people with suspected coronavirus.

According to Ford County physicians adviser Dr. R.C. Trotter, fever, which used to be a key factor in diagnosing COVID-19, is no longer a barometer for a positive case.

"The bad taste and lack of smell is now being seen in patients," Trotter said. "A lot of the positive cases show little to no fever and is no longer a key in determining a positive case. We have seen patients with head congestion, headache, back ache, any symptom beyond the ordinary, really."

Ford County’s number of positive cases of the coronavirus reached 516 on Monday. The key factor in the case increase has continued to be the increased testing taking place.

"Rapid testing with Kansas Department of Health and Environment tests has helped but we are needing more testing," Trotter said. "The cluster testing taking place at the (Western State Bank Expo Center) was used with rapid testing kits, but with the mass amount of people coming in, we need more tests and we are supposed to be getting them."

As tests are administered, the turnaround for results is in the two- to three-day range. The flooding of the system for results has caused the slow turnaround from testing occurring only a couple of weeks ago.

As a potential coronavirus patient is tested, it is key that the person stay at home until their results are delivered, Trotter said.

"Once tested, go home and stay there," he said. "If anyone in your house has come in contact with you, they need to stay home too as well as get tested.

"For those that need to go shopping or go in public in any way, wear a mask, have your kids wear a mask if they need to accompany you, and if you are able to go shopping by yourself, do so. I understand with single parents they would need to take their kids and if so, everyone needs to wear a mask. It is important."

As of Monday, according to KDHE, there have been four hospitalizations in Ford County with zero deaths reported.

With cluster testing in full swing at the expo center, the KDHE and Ford County planning of non-congregate housing shelters is still in negotiation.

According to Trotter, the location would be on a voluntary basis to create a space for people who have come in contact with the virus so they do not have to go home and pass it on to their families.

"It would be with helping testing and traffic control," Trotter said. "It would be for health care staff working in the field to not have to take it home to their families. We have seen it used that way in a lot of places but as of now we are still in the planning phase of how to go about it."

The housing of those infected could also assist in investigating contact tracing.

Testing of COVID-19 reached 1,212 tests in Ford County, and with 516 cases, the number of people tested to confirmed cases is 42%.

An update to the KDHE website showed a breakdown per county with new data that showed 696 negative test results for Ford County.

The new data also showed that of the four hospitalizations, three were ICU admissions, one mechanical ventilation and one discharge of a patient.

A disclaimer by the KDHE regarding the discharged patient says, "Data only includes cases with available discharge information reported to KDHE. Some case-patients may have been discharged but have not been reported to KDHE."

"Remember that we expected our numbers to increase in April," Ford County administrator J.D. Gilbert said. "Also, with a focus on rapid testing of identified clusters, our numbers were expected to increase even further.

"We realize that the increase in numbers can initially be alarming, but our investigation team is doing a great job and tracking each case.

"The best way to protect yourself against exposure is to stay home, social distance and wash your hands often and correctly. Many of our cases are the result of individuals not observing these three recommendations.

"Also, as of Monday morning, we have been hearing that Ford County is on 'complete lockdown' and not allowing people in or out of the county. That is not true. The county has not instituted any sort of travel restriction on any citizen and there are no plans to do so.“

Gilbert added there are still no signs of community spread.

The travel restriction or lack thereof is due to Trego County Health Department releasing information asking its citizens to quarantine if they traveled to or from Ford County.

For those not part of the cluster testing, Trotter said, those needing to be tested should contact their primary care physicians.

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