Coronavirus cases in Leavenworth County could reach their peak in mid or late April.
That is according to County Health Officer Jamie Miller, who spoke to Leavenworth County commissioners Wednesday.
"We are still on track with projections of mid to late April peaking," Miller said.
He said Leavenworth County will see the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases escalate over the next several weeks.
Miller said he hopes most of these cases will be mild or moderate and not require hospitalization.
In addition to the cases of COVID-19 that have been confirmed through testing, Leavenworth County Health Department officials have been keeping track of probable cases based on people who have reported symptoms but have not been tested.
Miller said Wednesday that the Leavenworth County Health Department had about 10 or less test kits for the coronavirus. He said these are being reserved for health care providers and first responders.
He said people who are hospitalized can still be tested for the virus. He said people also can arrange to be tested by their doctors.
He said the Leavenworth County Health Department may soon have the opportunity to conduct more tests utilizing lab services at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.
"There is a cost to run the test," Miller said.
But he does not yet have a number regarding the anticipated cost.
Miller noted Wednesday that a cluster of COVID-19 cases have been reported among staff members and inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility. He said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has a staff member working at the prison with Kansas Department of Corrections officials.
Miller said the Leavenworth County Health Department is following up regarding people who may have had contact with LCF employees who have tested positive for the virus.
Miller also mentioned scores given to Leavenworth County by the company Unacast, which is using data collected from cell phones to determine changes in mobility.
Miller said Leavenworth County has not scored well in terms of people decreasing their movement while a stay-at-home order is in place. He said the county has been receiving Ds and Fs from day to day.
"We have not slowed down a lot of unessential movements," he said.
Commissioner Mike Stieben asked about the criteria for this grading system.
Miller said the Unacast website provides the formula that is used for the grading system.
Miller acknowledged there may be some level of error in the grading system.
"It’s not a perfect scenario," he said.
But he called the grading system "another tool in the toolbox."
Miller said the main reason he brought it up Wednesday is because state officials have used some of the data.
Miller acknowledged a lot of people in the county are trying to do the right thing by staying home. But he also has seen evidence of people within the community who are not abiding by the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Also Wednesday, County Administrator Mark Loughry said officials saw a huge increase last week in the usage of the Leavenworth County Transfer Station.
He the Transfer Station is being limited to commercial traffic only until noon each day it is open. Residents can drop off their waste at the Transfer Station in the afternoon.
Loughry also said the Transfer Station is not accepting cash payments. But people can make payments using debit or credit cards.
In other business
The Leavenworth County Commission:
– Approved a resolution to revise a gravel road dust control policy.
– Discussed a proposal from County Treasurer Janice Van Parys to transfer payroll expenses for employees who handle vehicle registrations from what is called a motor vehicle fund to a general fund for her office.
The Treasurer’s Office receives money for the registration of vehicles. But this revenue has been reduced during the coronavirus crisis.
The request comes as the Leavenworth County Courthouse is closed, limiting the transactions that can take place.
"I believe most of the revenue will come back eventually," County Administrator Mark Loughry said.
He said money the Treasurer Office’s receives through the charging of a facility fee may be less than normal this year.
Loughry said he thinks Van Parys’ suggestion will help cover expenses for the time being. He said commissioners did not need to take a vote in order for Van Parys to move forward with the proposal.
– Approved a letter that will be sent to state legislators who represent Leavenworth County. The letter argues the county clerk should have the discretion to use mail ballot elections in 2020.
The request is being made because of concerns about operating election polling locations during the coronavirus crisis.
– Discussed possible changes to the public comment process for commission meetings.
Loughry said he will put recommendations made by commissioners into writing. He said this will be brought before the commissioners next week for a vote.
– Voted to authorize Senior County Counselor David Van Parys to take legal action against the party that is believed to be responsible for damaging County Road 1 last year.
Van Parys said repairs to the road totaled about $11,500. He said the insurance carrier for the responsible party has offered to pay less than this.
Van Parys said he does not believe it is fair to taxpayers to accept less than the total cost of repairs.