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KDHE Secretary: Kansas counties with mask mandates see improving COVID-19 numbers

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 12:52 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Department of Health (KDHE) is reporting 841 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths since Monday. The latest data brings the statewide total to 29,717 cases and 368 deaths. There have been 279,001 negative diagnostic tests conducted at KDHE and private labs.

The percentage of tests coming back positive is at 9.6%.

KDHE Secretary Dr. Norman said Kansas is seeing a decline in cases and he believes that is because more Kansans are wearing masks. He said they are the only physical tool we have to fight COVID-19. He compared data from 15 counties that imposed a mask mandate and the other 90 that did not. In the counties with a mask order, he said rates are improving. In those that don’t, the rates have stayed flat. He said the counties that have mask mandates represent two thirds of the population in the state.

“Here in this natural experiment called Kansas, where we essentially not due to any great design, but it has worked out that way. Some counties have been control group with no masks, some have been experimental group where masks are worn, and the experimental group is winning the battle. All of the improvement comes from those counties wearing masks,” said the secretary.

In Kansas, 1,821 people have been hospitalized, up 39 from Monday. The state now reports 39% of ICU beds are available at Kansas hospitals. Of the 564 in use, 78 are being used by COVID-19 patients. Of the 854 ventilators available, 131 are in use and 25 are being used by COVID-19 patients.

Long-term care facilities continue to be the hardest hit by COVID-19 clusters, making up for 1,377 cases, 260 hospitalizations, and 196 deaths across the state. Dr. Norman said other clusters the state is monitoring closely are in schools and day cares.

“Of those 62 cases, those under the age of 18 have been a very small number, just 5 or 6 and the rest have been in 18 to 76 year olds. So, we’re using that kind of pattern to help inform us as we look to the school and setting decision in the upcoming weeks,” he said.

There are also 63 cases linked to sports in Kansas which Dr. Norman said could be more problematic as high school sports are set to begin August 17.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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