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The eighth positive test in Kansas for coronavirus emerged in Franklin County after Johnson County officials disclosed transmission of the disease to a woman in her 50s associated with a community college.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Saturday eight positive tests for the virus. The numbers in Kansas were fluid because county health officials have independently released information about testing results for COVID-19. Since this spread into the state, KDHE administrators warned infection would steadily rise.
Five reported cases of COVID-19 have been in Johnson County, which is the state’s most populous. The others were in Wyandotte, Butler and Franklin counties. One individual has died.
Mary Beverly, interim director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said the latest case was the first known instance of local transmission in Johnson County. The county agency is working to identify individuals who came into close contact with her.
Franklin County Administrator Derek Brown said a "presumptive positive case" of COVID-19 had been identified in that county.
Lee Norman, secretary of the state’s health agency, said Kansans ought to expect an increase in positive tests for the disease.
"Kansans should remain vigilant," he said. "It’s important to live your lives, but it’s also important to take basic precautions like exercising good hygiene practices. It is up to each of us to do our part."
By 3 p.m. Sunday, KDHE hadn’t publicly reported an increase in positive tests beyond the eight identified. KDHE said there had been 166 negative tests in Kansas.
In Johnson County, the positive test of the woman associated with Johnson County Community College was identified through a sample sent to the KDHE’s laboratory. That test hasn’t been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
JCCC officials have closed the state’s largest community college until March 29, but resume course instruction online on March 30. The college in suburban Kansas City has an enrollment of 19,000.
The woman linked to the community college is hospitalized and the person’s family is in quarantine, Beverly said.
"The local transmission has been expected," she said. "It is important to remember to take basic precautions like washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home when you are ill."
Meanwhile, Kansas State University on Saturday announced limited on-campus housing operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of emergency declared by Gov. Laura Kelly. Kansas State requested students who live in off-campus housing to remain away from campus communities if possible.
Instructions sent to K-State students said they would be able to return to residence halls to pick up medications and computers only. Exceptions to the new policy would be made for international students unable to return home, students with health conditions or disabilities preventing travel, students with ill household members with no alternative housing, and students who cannot find a temporary off-campus option with family or friends.
Pittsburg State University joined the five other state universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system to adopt policy shifting face-to-face instruction on online formats. The university’s spring break began early Friday and officials the instructional policy would be in place indefinitely when classes would resumed March 30.