TOPEKA (AP) — A third coronavirus death has been reported in Kansas as more than half of the state's residents are facing orders to stay at home except for essential services, such as buying groceries or receiving health care.
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, announced Tuesday night that the latest victim is a man in his 70s who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
“We offer our prayers and thoughts to the family and friends of the deceased. Their sadness is our sadness,” Mayor David Alvey said in a statement. “Our own family and friends are precious to us, and so I call on each one of us to protect one another and stop the spread of COVID-19!”
As of Tuesday, Kansas was reporting at least 98 positive cases. Two other deaths had been reported previously in the Kansas City area. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the ages of those who tested positive ranged from 7 to 90, with the median age of 52.
Steven Stites, chief medical officer of the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas., said he believes it's three weeks from the pandemic “really accelerating” locally, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
With a potential shortage of ventilators, doctors may be asked to make difficult decisions.
“We’ve not gotten into that bad situation, yet. I’m optimistic we won’t,” said Kansas Army National Guard Col. Lee Norman, who also leads the Kansas Departmentp( of Health and Environment.
At least 10 counties have issued orders for their residents to stay home in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some of the orders take effect Wednesday while others will start early Thursday. Counties that added orders Tuesday included Sedgwick, the home of Wichita, the state's largest city, and Shawnee, which includes the state capital of Topeka.
Gov. Laura Kelly has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order but has said it might become “unavoidable” as more positive cases of COVID-19 are reported.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Amid the outbreak, the massive Wyandotte County retailer Nebraska Furniture Mart argued it was essential, then closed its doors Tuesday evening, The Kansas City Star reported.
With Americans' lives and livelihoods hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump said he "would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” on April 12. But that statement sharply contradicted health officials' calls for stricter restrictions on public interactions. Scientists and other politicians in the U.S. have warned that the worst is yet to come.
Asked about Trump’s proposed Easter timeline on a video conference Tuesday afternoon, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman was incredulous.
“Did he say what calendar year?” Norman said.