The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Leavenworth County took a significant jump Thursday. But almost all of the new cases involve inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility, according to the Leavenworth County Health Department.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the total number of confirmed cases in the county was 357. This was an increase of 160 cases from a day earlier. But 157 of the new cases reported involve LCF inmates, according to information posted on the Health Department’s Facebook page.
Earlier this week, 240 men from an open-dormitory living unit at LCF were tested. Based on early results, it appears about 75% of them are positive for the virus but not showing symptoms, according to a news release from the Kansas Department of Corrections.
KDOC officials announced Thursday that all inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility will be tested for the coronavirus.
"Social distancing in a prison setting is difficult," KDOC Secretary Jeff Zmuda said in a news release. "For years, correctional facilities have been built to house a large number of people in a limited amount of space. We want nothing more than for all of our residents to be healthy and safe while they are in our care and we believe this testing will assist us in ensuring that they receive the attention that they need and deserve."
All inmates who test positive for the virus will be medically monitored, including those who are asymptomatic but may later develop symptoms, according to the KDOC news release.
Inmates will continue to be transported to a hospital if symptoms progress or their health warrants. A facility-wide quarantine will be in place at LCF for at least 14 days.
"From day one, we have known a more robust testing strategy is key to understanding the spread of COVID-19," Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman said in the KDOC news release. "A limited supply chain prevented us from doing so, until recently. Unfortunately, the results we received from Lansing confirm how quickly this virus spreads and the unique characteristics of being positive, but not showing any signs or symptoms. Increased testing is beneficial, but it also may reveal the broader spread of the virus."
So far, a total of 227 inmates from LCF have tested positive for the virus, according to the Leavenworth County Health Department.
A KDOC website that reports COVID-19 cases within state prisons did not reflect the large jump in numbers at LCF that was reported Thursday by the Health Department. KDOC spokeswoman Rebecca Witte said these new cases will be reflected when the website is updated Friday.
As of 2:04 p.m. Thursday, 79 employees at LCF have tested positive for the coronavirus. Of those, 19 have been able to return to work.
The office of Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that she was issuing a new disaster declaration for the state.
An earlier declaration was scheduled to expire Friday. This declaration could have been extended by the Legislature. But state legislators are not in session.
As part of the new disaster declaration, Kelly reissued various executive orders related to the COVID-19 crisis.