Coronavirus patient with Johnson County college connection doesn’t put entire school at risk, official says

Tracking Coronavirus
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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — A woman in Johnson County tests postive for COVID-19. She’s in her 50’s and associated with the 18,000+ person Johnson County Community College.

As of Saturday afternoon, there are now eight confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas. One fatality in Wyandotte County, one patient in Butler County near Wichita, another in Franklin County, and five in Johnson County. The woman associated with Johnson County Community College was the fifth postive test in the county and is the county’s first case of local transmission, where the virus was passed along directly within the community.    

She is “someone who, in this particular case, we don’t have any evidence of travel, we don’t have any evidence of a confirmed or preemptively positive case, no connection to the cases that we have before this one,” Mary Beverly, the Interim Director of Johnson County’s Department of Health and Environment, said. “That leads us to believe that this may be the first community associate case in Johnson County.  

The first day of Spring Break, and JCCC is quiet, a bit damp, and empty. That’s the idea. Earlier this week, the school announced it will expand that it will extend its spring break by two weeks.  Then, in the following week, its classes will be online. That was days before before the school found out someone at JCCC had COVID-19.

“The whole college would not be at risk,” Beverly said. “That’s very important to communicate.”

On Saturday, Beverly’s department started contacting every person the COVID-19 patient may have interacted with at JCCC. It’s fewer than you’d expect.

“It is transmitted through the cough and sneeze,” Beverly said. “So we are going to be looking at individuals who have spent 10 minutes or more within 6 feet, while the individual was infectious.”

She added, “it is possible that they weren’t infectious while they were at Johnson County Community College.”

Remember, while this is the first person in Johnson County to get local transmission, she probably won’t be the last. Community-associated transmission will probably grow as the virus spreads. While JCDHE wants to find the patient who passed COVID-19 to this woman, it’s not the most important thing.

“It’s possible that we may not be able to pinpoint an individual,” Beverly said.  “We may not be able to pinpoint a location. The importance is that we try to contain. We do our contact tracing to determine now who’s been exposed while this individual’s been sick. Trying to go back and figure out where it came from is important, we need to look at that, but it’s not as important as stopping the transmission going forward.”

For reference, the Kansas Department of Health and Envornment said 135 of its COVID-19 tests have been negative. With the eight that have been positive, tThat makes a total of 143 tests. Percentage-wise, 94% have tested negative, 6% positive.

In Missouri, the numers are even lower. To date, 96% of its COVID-19 tests came back negative, and 4% positive.

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