Confirmed cases in Kansas
(as of April 5)
Confirmed cases in Harvey County
(as of April 5)
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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 and sneezing, close contact such as touching or shaking hands, and touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. 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. 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.

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.

What is the limit on gathering size?

On March 23, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced an executive order to limit gatherings to 10 people until further guidance is provided. The Harvey County Health Department has also recommended all non-essential events be canceled or postponed. Limiting contacts through social distancing helps reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.

Is Kansas under a Stay Home order?

Gov. Kelly announced a Stay Home executive order for Kansas in effect from March 30 to April 19. It requires Kansans to stay home except to go to work to perform an essential function; obtain food, medicine or household necessities; medical care; caring for children, family members or pets; or exercise while abiding by social distancing and gathering guidelines.

What is considered an essential business?

Essential business functions are outlined in the Kansas Essential Functions Framework. There is no prior approval needed to be deemed an essential business. Organizations that are unsure if their business meets essential criteria can visit the KEFF website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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, 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 outside the United States?

As of March 19, the U.S. Department of State advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel.

Who should quarantine?

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

  • Traveled to California, Florida, New York and Washington state on or after March 15.
  • Traveled to Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
  • Traveled to Louisiana or Colorado on or after March 27.
  • Visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado in the week prior to March 15 or after.
  • 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 a confirmed case?

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and some private laboratories provide COVID-19 testing. The KDHE will announce if it confirms the individual is presumptive positive. The test is presumptive because a second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to verify the result.

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