GIRARD — After two weeks that have seen multiple special meetings called and orders issued at various levels of government in reaction to the spread of the novel coronavirus into Kansas and Crawford County, officials at Friday’s county commission meeting said they are beginning to adjust to their new routines as the pace of major policy changes slows down.
County Health Officer Rebecca Adamson noted that six positive COVID-19 cases have been identified in the county, including one death. Of the remaining five cases, however, four have recovered, she said, while the person who most recently tested positive remains in isolation.
In response to a question from Commissioner Tom Moody, Adamson said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is estimating that the state may see its number of coronavirus cases peak around April 24 — though she cautioned that this was just an estimate.
“What the exact number will be we don’t know, so it will hopefully start to come down shortly after that,” Adamson said, “just like we see with other contagious diseases like influenza, it will plateau for a little while and then it should start to come down. How long that will take we don’t know.”
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 620 positive cases, 151 hospitalizations, and 17 deaths from COVID-19 statewide so far in its daily update Friday afternoon.
Sheriff Danny Smith said many people are doing a good job following social distancing requirements and Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order.
“This is a lifestyle change,” Smith said.
“I know for us, as soon as we come into the sheriff’s office we have to go straight to the sink, wash our hands, so any time you leave you’ve got to do that,” he said. “So employees are doing a good job, but for every person that’s really making a good effort doing that, I think we still have 2, 3 ,4, 5 that aren’t doing like they should.”
Smith said his department is now “in pretty good shape” when it comes to equipment such as masks. “There was kind of a panic in the beginning, but our supplies are coming in,” he said.
In response to a question from Commissioner Jeremy Johnson, Adamson said she has been meeting regularly with representatives from area hospitals and medical facilities about their efforts to increase surge capacity in case there ends up being a sudden influx of patients.
Mental Health Center Executive Administrator Michael Ehling said because his department’s work is generally “built on face-face encounters,” it was a challenge for his department to adapt to working and communicating with patients remotely, but they were doing a good job adjusting to the changes required in response to the spread of COVID-19.
“That’s been kind of really nothing short of remarkable that we were able to do that in a two-week time,” Ehling said.
Emergency Medical Services Director Randy Sandberg also discussed his department’s efforts to prepare in case the coronavirus situation in the county gets significantly worse.
“As far as for the EMS side, we’re kind of in the same boat as the sheriff’s department. We’re expecting a rise. We haven’t seen that as of yet,” Sandberg said, adding that people staying home was probably contributing to that.
“As far as all the county agencies, we’re all working really well together,” he said. “It says a lot about us, we have a good working relationship with everybody, and I think that will make this — through the virus it will make things run a lot smoother.”