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University offers coronavirus tests; reopening plan unveiled

April 28, 2020 GMT
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The Kansas Statehouse stands against the sky as the sun sets in the distance Monday, April 27, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. Kansas remains under stay-at-home orders until May 3 in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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The Kansas Statehouse stands against the sky as the sun sets in the distance Monday, April 27, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. Kansas remains under stay-at-home orders until May 3 in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has launched coronavirus testing for students, faculty and staff as confirmed cases in Kansas rose Tuesday by 4.9% to nearly 3,500.

Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican and frequent critic of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, unveiled a proposal for reopening the state’s economy, though such decisions rest with Kelly.

UNIVERSITY’S TESTING

Kansas State said it can test up to 270 people a day and is providing testing for students, faculty or staff who show coronavirus symptoms or who have been in contact with an infected person.

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The university in Manhattan is relying on a laboratory used for veterinary medical testing and the Biosecurity Research Institute set up to deal with foreign animal diseases.

For most people, the novel coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two or three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.

NEW NUMBERS

Kansas reported four additional COVID-19-related deaths Tuesday to bring the total to 124. The state had 3,491 confirmed cases, up 163 from Monday.

The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest that people can be infected without feeling sick.

REOPENING THE ECONOMY

Wagle, who is also running for the U.S. Senate, called for reopening most Kansas businesses at half capacity. Kelly has said she will outline her plan Thursday.

Kelly issued a stay-at-home order that took effect March 30 and expires at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Wagle said stay-at-home restrictions should be retained on assisted living facilities and nursing homes, where COVID-19 outbreaks can be more lethal. She also said Kelly should permit state executive orders to expire so that county health officials can take the lead.

Wagle said that original projections of COVID-19 cases and deaths had been significantly reduced, with health officials now saying there are enough hospital and ICU beds to adequately treat those who become infected.

Public health officials say the cases and deaths have been fewer because of strong social distancing practices.

Kelly said last week that her goal is to start reopening the Kansas economy Sunday but she may not be able to do it because the state was “nowhere near” having the supplies needed for adequate coronavirus testing. The governor has said she is meeting with officials from various industries and plans to release her reopening strategy Thursday.

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FEARS OF SELF-POISONING

Before the coronavirus outbreak started, the University of Kansas Health System’s Poison Control Center averaged two calls a day. But it has been averaging three or four a day in March and April, for a 40% increase over the same time period a year ago.

Most calls are from people not following instructions when mixing and using cleaning supplies. Other calls concern children getting into cleaning supplies as they are home from school and daycare.

Dr. Steve Thornton, the center’s director, said uptick in calls is “predictable” and added that the risk going forward is people trying unproven remedies.

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Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kan.

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Following John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna