KDHE secretary shares positive trends related to COVID-19, concern about holiday weekend

TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH)

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman reports positive trends in the state's fight to contain COVID-19, but also concern about what may lie ahead of people let their guards down too quickly.

Dr. Norman says the COVID-19 related death rate and hospitalizations continue to move in the right direction with an overall downward trend. However, he expresses concern about Memorial Day Weekend, one of the busiest of the year when it comes to social gatherings.

Dr. Norman worries about family gatherings, trips to busy stores and the "normal" holiday activities that put people in close contact with one another.

While Kansas is no longer under a stay-at-home order, there is still a mass-gathering limit of 10 people and health officials say Kansans need to continue practicing social distancing. Dr. Norman discussed a mass gathering from May 2 to May 10 at Lake Perry in Shawnee County. From one or more group events connected with the gathering, 10 people tested positive for COVID-19.

He says hopes people won't take that kind of risk this weekend when it comes to mass gatherings.

"I haven't worried about a weekend this much since Easter weekend," Dr. Norman says. "I knew there would be lots of gatherings as well, so I'm real concerned about it."

The open air helps, but even if you're outside, being in close contact with other people (outside of your home) isn't smart, he says. Dr. Norman suggests following the rules when it comes to mass gatherings, wearing masks and social distancing.

Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns also emphasizes the importance of continuing to follow social distancing guidelines.

"I'm concerned that if people disregard all the recommendations and have large groups on Memorial Day Weekend and don't observe social distancing and masks and all that, I think there's a possibility we see more cases," he says.

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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment now reports 8,340 cases of COVID-19 in 84 counties with 173 deaths.

There have been 740 of 5,251 cases that have been hospitalized. Patients range in age from 0 to 100 years old with a median age of 42 years old.

There have been 4,003 positive tests at KHEL and 4,229 at private labs. Of the 66,990 tests taken, 58,650 have come back negative.

The following counties have more than 100 cases of COVID-19: Ford (1,403), Finney (1,281), Wyandotte (1,178), Leavenworth (1,051), Seward (780), Johnson (666), Sedgwick, Lyon (359) and Shawnee (198).