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Gov. Kelly addresses Norton outbreak as Kansas nears 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 12:46 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - According to John Hopkins, Norton County, in northwest Kansas, had the largest number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents of any U.S. county for a two-week period. On Monday, the Andbe Nursing Facility reported that all of its residents had the virus and that 10 had died. Norton’s city office is now closed due to the outbreak in the town.

Gov. Kelly addressed the outbreak in a briefing Wednesday afternoon. She said she has directed the Kansas Division of Emergency Management to provide resources to Norton County. That includes personal protective equipment, test kits, ventilators, respirators and several doses of remdesivir.

“The tragic deaths in Norton are a stark reminder that COVID-19 poses a real threat to all Kansans and it doesn’t stop at county lines. For months many mistakenly shared the idea that this virus would never reach our rural and lower population communities, now it is worse in those towns and counties than it is in our cities,” said Gov. Kelly.

KDHE is in regular communication with the Norton County Health Department and the hospital in Norton.

The governor said currently two-thirds of the state’s cases lie outside the Wichita and Kansas City regions. She said she continues to push for Kansans to wear masks. Her team is looking at all avenues to make masks a requirement, and she plans to hold discussions with house and senate leaders to work toward a bipartisan mask requirement.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reporting 1,448 new COVID-19 cases since Monday. The state reported 80 new deaths, bringing the total to 952.

According to Kristi Zears, a spokesperson for KDHE, 55 of those deaths were reconciled through a vital statistics review. The other 25 deaths were reported to the department since Monday.

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