• There have been 3 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Barton County, all from Claflin.
• Some University of Kansas Health System - Great Bend Campus staff have been quarantined due to possible exposure to a COVID-19 patient.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends wearing a cloth mask in settings such as grocery stores.
• Walmart is now limiting the number of people that can be in the store at one time.
Three persons in Barton County have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), all located in the City of Claflin, Donna Zimmerman announced Friday in her capacity as Barton County's Public Information Officer. However, this does not mean that unidentified cases do not exist elsewhere in the county and precautions should be taken by all residents of the county in all cities and other parts of the county.
For statewide statics, view the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website, http://www.kdheks.gov/.
“We continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action, including the issuance of quarantine/isolation orders. To date, 23 quarantine/isolation orders have been served in various locations in Barton County,” Zimmerman stated.
Small number of local hospital staff under quarantine
A small number of staff at the University of Kansas Health System – Great Bend Campus have been quarantined due to possible exposure to a COVID-19 patient, Jill Chadwick, Kansas City, Mo.-based UKHS spokesperson, confirmed Saturday morning.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to quarantine the staff members,” Chadwick said. However, this only involved a few employees and “patient care will not be impacted.”
Chadwick said she could not comment on the patient involved in the possible exposure and if this was one of the current three positive cases already confirmed in Barton County. That information would have to come from the Barton County Health Department or other county officials.
New CDC mask recommendation
In light of new evidence that COVID-19 can spread between people interacting in close proximity – for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. According to CDC information, those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health-care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
“The number of affected individuals have grown exponentially,” CDC advised. “This is a very serious and sometimes deadly virus. We strongly encourage the public to take this pandemic seriously by practicing social distancing and staying home if at all possible.”
Zimmerman said Barton County officials will continue to provide local information as it becomes available. “Due to the demand for additional information, and in order to protect public safety, legal counsel has advised that only the city of residence will be provided on positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases going forward.”
Safety at Walmart
Walmart stores on Saturday began additional measures to protect employees and customers.
According to Dacona Smith, executive vice president of Walmart U.S., Walmart now limits the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store’s capacity.
To manage this restriction, the associates at a store will mark a queue at a single-entry door (in most cases the Grocery entrance) and direct arriving customers there, where they will be admitted one-by-one and counted. Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they’re waiting to enter a store – especially before it opens in the morning. Walmart will also institute one-way movement through its aisles next week in a number of its stores, using floor markers and direction from employees.
Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a “one-out-one-in” basis.
“We care deeply about our associates’ health and well-being, and in recent weeks we’ve taken steps such as expanding our paid leave policies; closing our stores overnight for cleanings and restocking; installing sneeze guards and social distance markers in stores; beginning temperature checks; and starting to make gloves and masks available to associates who want them,” Smith stated on the corporate website.
Additional reporting by Dale Hogg, Great Bend Tribune.