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Gov. Kelly announces unified COVID-19 testing strategy as Kansas reports 7-day record for new cases

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 2:11 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Laura Kelly announced on Monday Phase 1 of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Unified COVID-19 Testing Strategy.

Kansas has a COVID-19 strategy for specimen collection and testing. The governor said the goal now is to use all testing sites and platforms available to increase public and private testing throughout the state.

The announcement comes as Kansas reports a new 7-day record for new coronavirus cases. The state reported 2,037 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday to make a total of 58,629. Kansas had an average of 667 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday.

“We cannot accept these rising case numbers or normalize the fact that 637 Kansans have lost their lives to COVID-19,” said Gov. Kelly. “To be clear, these concerns will not keep me and my administration from doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus, keeping our kids in school and keeping our businesses open.”

Gov. Kelly said through the new coordinated plan, the state would continue diagnostic testing of people who show symptoms or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Routine testing will be increased in areas of the state with high, ongoing community spread. This kind of testing will be available in at-risk congregate settings such as nursing homes, correctional facilities, and schools, especially if contact tracing proves to be difficult.

“With shared goals and clear metrics, this coordinated strategy will go a long way in ensuring we can effectively test our population and identify where the virus exists in our communities,” the governor said.

Gov. Kelly said when resources and need allows, the state would move to conduct surveillance testing to determine where the virus exists in the population.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Kelly said there was no clear or central federal guidance for this operation. She said now testing throughout the state will operate under one umbrella. The state is also now able to put another $52-$53 million of CARES funding to broaden the testing capacity.

“We just didn’t have the materials. We didn’t have the lab capacity to turn around a lot of tests. We’ve added that by partnering with a number of our universities, with private companies. So, we’ve increased capacity significantly,” she said.

The governor said this coordinated effort, along with the use of social distance and masks wearing, will help keep schools and businesses open and Kansans healthy.

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that the federal government would deploy 6.5 million rapid tests to the states. The tests, using a new Abbott platform, deliver results in 15 minutes.

The president said his goal is to have many of the tests go to schools to help them re-open and get kids back into the classroom.

Gov. Kelly said at this time she did not know how many tests Kansas would get but schools were already a part of the state’s testing plan. She said once the new tests arrive, they will be deployed accordingly.

Gov. Kelly said Dr. Marci Neilsen, the Vice President for Policy and Strategy at GEHA Health is helping to draft and implement Kansas’ COVID-19 testing strategy. She said she hopes to release more details on the plan in the coming weeks.

Gov. Laura Kelly will be holding her weekly COVID-19 news conference on Monday, at 4:00 p.m.

According to a news release, she will be announcing a new unified testing strategy.

You can watch the news conference below:

If you have trouble viewing the news conference on the video player, CLICK HERE.

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