Total cases in Kansas
(as of Aug. 10)
31,730
Total cases in Harvey County
(as of Aug. 7)
200
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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. COVID-19 may spread through individuals who do not show symptoms. 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 a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

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.
  • Wear a face mask or face cover.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

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. If social distancing cannot be maintained, it is strongly recommended to wear a face cover. This helps reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.

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.

The Harvey County Commission voted July 14 to require face masks be worn county-wide in public spaces where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained between individuals. The order is scheduled to be in effect through Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 11:59 p.m. You can view the order here.

What does community spread mean?

Community spread means individuals have been infected with COVID-19 in the area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The chances of exposure to COVID-19 increase when community spread is in an area. Harvey County identified community spread within the county as of July 10.

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.

Additionally, some providers are offering testing regardless of having symptoms. Check with your provider to find out if they offer this service.

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 six probable cases.

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. 

Two cases were determined probable because they were positive in antigen testing, as well as displaying symptoms, but did not receive nasal swab molecular testing to confirm evidence of COVID-19.

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. The KDHE does not include these two described probable cases in its case counts because of its standards for older tests - however, Harvey County does include them in its counts.


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. If you are tested for COVID-19, you must quarantine until you receive your test result.

Are we allowed to travel? Can I travel internationally?

Nonessential travel is OK. However, traveling out of state may require a mandatory quarantine upon the individual's return to Kansas. Additionally, some states require Kansans to quarantine once arriving in their state. Please take care to review local measures when traveling to other areas.

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 Florida on or after June 29.
  • Traveled to Arizone between June 17 and July 27.
  • Traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15.
  • Traveled internationally to French Guiana and/or Bahrain between July 14 and July 27.
  • Traveled to countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice and restrictions on entry into the United States, including: China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and Brazil, on or after July 14.
Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina were previously included, but have since been removed.

Is Kansas under a Stay Home order or mass gathering limit?

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 began the Phase Out portion of its reopening plan June 17. There is no limit on gathering size at this time, but social distancing is encouraged. 

Individual counties 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.

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.

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

(Updated Aug. 3, 2020)