KDHE adds note to cluster summary, clears up confusion on numbers

KDEH started reporting cluster summaries on Wednesday, but the original report caused confusion since it didn't originally include an important note about the numbers

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Kan. – On Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment started reporting COVID-19 clusters, showing what sites in the state had active outbreaks.

You can see how KDHE defines a cluster in our original report, here.

In the summary that was released on Wednesday (09/09), it listed the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas as an active cluster, with 9 cluster cases, and Sugar Creek Packing in Frontenac as an active cluster, with 174 cluster cases. Those numbers, in combination with the verbiage that KDHE uses on the website — “Beginning Wednesday, September 9, KDHE will release information regarding active outbreaks in Kansas,” — for example, lead many people to believe the numbers referred to the current number of active cases at each site.

KDHE Cluster Summary From Wednesday, 9 9

KDHE Cluster Summary From Wednesday, 9 9

But Sugar Creek Packing says they only have a few active cases, with a large number of the cases listed coming from the outbreak they had in June. The Community Health Center says something similar.

“We had ten cases in staff back in June. We currently have two staff in our entire organization of over 600. So KDHE determines that there is a cluster if you have more than five cases within a healthcare entity, regardless of if it’s multiple facilitIes or one facility,” says Dr. Linda Bean, Chief Clinical Officer of CHC/SEK.

When we reached out to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday to ask about the discrepancy, they explained that the number that’s listed in the summary reports is a cumulative total of cases that have happened at each site, not just the number of currently active cases like many thought.

That wasn’t made clear on the KDHE website, until Friday morning.

KDHE has now added a note to the summary to clarify things. They’ve also changed the heading to say “total cases,” instead of “cluster cases.”

Cluster Summary With Note

KDHE Cluster Summary from Friday, 9-11.

KDHE continent to consider a site a cluster until it goes 28 consecutive days without having a single new COVID-19 case.