How rumors got started and what to do to stay safe
Fears of a potential local COVID-19 outbreak ignited when rumors of Tabor College students in quarantine hit Marion County.
The college president’s office said no students are sick with the disease. Two students were quarantined last week, but the quarantine was lifted after they tested negative for the virus.
“They might have been exposed and we were just taking precautions,” the president’s office said.
County health administrator Diedre Serene said schools and universities can quarantine students if they believe doing so would be advisable.
As of Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Health confirmed 17 COVID-19 cases in the state, including one death. The closest case is a Butler County man in his 70s who had traveled outside the U.S. and tested positive. He was hospitalized at Wesley Medical Center and has since been released and is quarantined in his home.
“The health department is working with KDHE, healthcare providers, schools and the community in providing information,” Serene said.
Both quarantine and isolation are used to keep disease from spreading to healthy people, Serene said.
Quarantine is used to separate someone who might have been exposed, in order to see if they become sick.
“These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms,” Serene said.
Isolation is used to separate sick people known to have a communicable disease from others who are healthy, Serene said.
Serene said hand-washing is the best defense against getting COVID-19. She recommends frequent hand-washing for at least 20 seconds.
Avoid being around people who are sick, and avoid large gatherings in public places, Serene said.
Clean frequently touched areas daily with diluted bleach solution, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, or EPA approved household disinfectants, she said.
Krista Schneider, registered nurse and infection preventionist at Hillsboro Community Hospital said the hospital is limiting visitors to immediate family.
“We also will be screening them prior to letting them see patients, to make sure they are healthy,” Schneider said.
All patients who come in to the clinic are likewise being screened.
“With this virus, the symptoms are very much the same as influenza,” she said. “We are working very closely with our neighbors at St. Luke and the county health department. The safety and the health of our community and our staff are of the highest priority.”
Jeremy Ensey, CEO at St. Luke, said that in accordance with new federal guidelines, no one is allowed to enter the Living Center except in a few circumstances.
Visitors to the hospital are being screened, Ensey said.
To limit people entering the hospital, only the main door leading into the lobby and the clinic door are open, spokesman Roger Schroeder said.
“If you’re coughing, not feeling well, or running a fever, we’re asking you not to come in,” Schroeder said. “It’s not ideal but we’re trying to do the best we can to take these steps to keep everyone as safe as we can.”
Doors into the nursing area are locked and visitors must come to the window to be screened before they will be allowed inside.
Patients coming in are screened as well, Ensey said. If they have fever or a cough, they are given a mask to wear before they go in to have tests done.
The same procedures are being done at the clinic, Ensey said.
Ensey said anyone who thinks they might have COVID-19 should call the clinic before going in.
“The staff is also screening people on the phone before they come in,” Ensey said. “It’s changed much in the last week, and it could be changed again in another week.”
Ensey encourages the public to also go to the KDHE website for daily updates on COVID-19.
Last modified March 19, 2020