A third case of the coronavirus has been confirmed in Cowley County, and health officials now are warning that the disease may be spreading in the community.
And that concern could lead to keeping social distancing restrictions in place longer.
The person was identified as a young woman with no previous illness and who lives and works in Cowley County.
“This specific case is especially concerning as it is the first true case that demonstrates the capacity of the illness infecting a previously healthy person,” public health officer Thomas Langer said in a Monday morning press release. “The patient had shown no symptoms and was previously interacting in the community in a normal fashion, including going to work, shopping and taking are of other necessary actives, including medical appointments for children.”
The woman’s husband works out of town and had been freely traveling until this point, the release added.
A disease investigation is under way, and all close contacts of the patient have been notified and are quarantined. Some close family members are being tested and all close contacts are being monitored for any changes in health conditions.
“Everybody currently exposed by close contact is quarantined and will remain in isolation until the illness has passed,” Langer said.
The third case serves as a warning that COVID-19 is present in the community and people should follow the stay-at-home order, he added.
Langer had told the public that Cowley County might begin to return to normal if the statewide stay-at-home order expired after May 3, but that now appears in doubt.
The first case was detected nearly a month ago, and the man has since died. The second case was a woman who contracted the illness from a relative in Oklahoma, according to the health department.
“This new case, along with other outbreaks occurring in rural counties in the state, certainly casts doubt upon the ‘return to normal’ occurring quickly as many have been hoping for,” Langer said. “Sadly, it appears that we still have a long way to go before we will be past this initial outbreak period.”
The health department reports 165 tests have been done in Cowley County, with 162 negative and three positive results.
Statewide, 154 new coronavirus cases were reported in Kansas on Monday for a total of 3,328, according to state public health officials. Kansas now has surpassed Oklahoma in number of confirmed cases.
There have been 120 virus-related deaths in Kansas, 496 hospitalizations and 23,839 negative tests, which means about 12.3 percent of tests come out positive.
The testing rate is now 9.33 tests done per 1,000 residents; in Cowley County it is 4.3 tests per 1,000 residents, according to state figures. The highest testing rates are in Ford and Seward counties, where many more tests are being done to protect against outbreaks at meat-packing plants.
Those two counties also now have among the highest number of known cases, Ford at 516 and Seward at 316.
Around Cowley County, Butler County is up to 14 cases, Sumner and Chautauqua counties both remained at three cases. Elk County remained at zero cases. Sedgwick County now has 339 cases, just one more than Sunday.
Kay County, Okla., has remained steady in recent days with 47 cases, and six deaths. Osage County is up to 72 cases and eight deaths.
Total cases in Oklahoma on Monday reached 3,280, up 27 cases from Sunday. There were two additional deaths for 197 total; there have been 656 hospitalizations.