Governor Laura Kelly says there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Kansas, and the overall risk of the virus is low, but the state is taking steps to prepare for eventual cases of the virus.

At a statehouse news conference Wednesday, the governor said “We take this situation seriously.  We can and will remain ready to respond swiftly and effectively, should the virus spread to Kansas.”  She said the state is working with local and federal partners to be aware of national and international trends related to the COVID-19 virus.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management are in communication with local hospitals and health departments and they’re getting ready for emergency management situations.   KDHE secretary Lee Norman said the virus may be new, but the process is not and the state has been working with local agencies on preparedness and response exercises.   Norman said it’s just a matter of time before a positive case is reported in Kansas.  He said the KDHE lab now has the capability to test for cases of COVID-19, and results can now be determined in a matter of hours.   Previously, samples would have to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control for testing, and that process took several days.

Kansas adjutant general Lee Tafanelli said his agency is ready to support county emergency managers for resources and technical assistance when needed.  He said there have been briefings with local, state and federal partners on a daily basis, and KDEM is ready to respond.

Governor Kelly said for now, the advice for Kansans is straightforward:  “The best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends against contracting the virus is to use good hygiene.  Wash your hands, cough into your sleeve, avoid touching your eyes, your nose and your mouth, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.”

KDHE has created an online resource center to provide more information on the coronavirus. It’s available through the KDHE web site at kdheks.gov

[ photo shows Governor Kelly, with KDHE secretary Lee Norman and Kansas adjutant general Lee Tafanelli ]