Kansas confirms first coronavirus case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas City-area woman who recently traveled to the Northeast is the first case of coronavirus in Kansas, officials confirmed Saturday.

Gov. Laura Kelly and health officials said the woman, who’s under 50, is isolating herself at home after seeing her doctor over the common symptoms of the new coronavirus, including a cough, slight fever and shortness of breath. She lives in Johnson County, the state’s most populous county.

“The patient’s doing very well,” said Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The Kansas announcement came as Florida reported two coronavirus deaths, the first outside the West Coast. The total U.S. death toll reached 19.

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases swelled to 400, with cases in about half of the states. Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Pennsylvania also recently reported their first cases.

The confirmation of the first Kansas case came four days after the state’s health department launched an online resource center on coronavirus and three days after Kelly and the department’s top administrator said the state was prepared for an outbreak.

Norman had said the state was monitoring up to a dozen people a day as possible coronavirus cases.

FULL PRESS RELEASE: Presumptive-Positive COVID-19 Case Identified in Kansas

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is confirming its first presumptive-positive case of COVID-19 in Kansas. The possible case was identified today with testing sent to KDHE’s Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL). KHEL, which is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to perform COVID-19 testing, found presumptive-positive results this afternoon. These results will be verified by the CDC lab but will be treated as positive unless determined otherwise.

“Kansas has been prepared for positive cases of novel coronavirus and will continue to work alongside local and federal public health partners in addressing the potential spread of the virus,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “It is our main priority to keep Kansans healthy and safe. We want Kansans educated on all aspects related to COVID-19.”

The case is located in Johnson County and the patient is currently in home isolation, following the guidance of the CDC. KDHE continues to work with the local health department and CDC to identify and contact people who may have come into contact with the individual while they were infectious, and will monitor them for fever and respiratory symptoms. The patient is a female under the age of 50 years old. No other information will be provided about the patient.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely. In the meantime, the general public can help. Please practice proper public health hygiene,” Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of KDHE, said. “Wash your hands and stay home if you’re sick.”

On March 4, Governor Kelly announced the administration’s robust, comprehensive preparedness plan in the event of a positive test result.

Under Governor Kelly’s direction, KDHE and KDEM are:

  • in constant communication with local hospitals and health departments, coordinating with local, state and federal public health partners;
  • preparing for emergency management situations on a regular basis, with staff who have decades of experience in developing responses and preventative measures for any situation;
  • continuing to work with federal, state and local partners to maintain awareness of national and international COVID-19 trends and strategies.

The 2019 novel coronavirus infections initially were diagnosed in Wuhan City, China and have been reported in 60 locations internationally, including the United States. There are a number of unknowns with the virus, including how long people are considered contagious. KDHE, along with our community partners, continues to investigate this illness. Treatment for individuals with confirmed cases is supportive care.

If you have recently traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea and have developed fever with lower respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or have had contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. You may also call the KDHE phone bank at 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF) today, Saturday, March 7 from 6-8 p.m. and on Sunday, March 8 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

For more information about COVID-19, visit KDHE’s website and Frequently Asked Questions at www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/  and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ .


This situation is constantly evolving and changing. For the most up-to-date information, please use the following links from KDHE and the CDC: