In Reversal, Kansas Will Depend All Optimistic COVID Circumstances, Even Asymptomatic Ones

Kansas leaders will embrace asymptomatic COVID-19 instances of their assessments of virus developments as they consider when to take additional steps to ease stay-at-home orders and different social distancing measures.

The transfer represents a reversal after NPR station KCUR in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, reported final week that the state was omitting these instances from its knowledge, portray a very optimistic image of the outbreak. Kansas had as an alternative checked out “symptom onset” knowledge — a metric that by definition excludes individuals who check constructive for the coronavirus however don’t develop signs.

The coverage change was enacted Monday, stated a spokesperson for the Kansas Division of Well being and Setting.

Kansas entered the primary part of the state’s “reopening” plan final week, permitting gatherings of 10 or fewer folks and letting libraries and little one care services reopen. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, stated in a information convention final week that leaders would take further steps cautiously.

“We’ll proceed to reevaluate Kansas’ illness unfold, testing charges, hospitalizations, private safety gear availability and different components earlier than shifting from one part to the subsequent,” stated Kelly. “Science and knowledge will dictate how shortly or how slowly the reopening unfolds.”

Kansas’ efforts to trace and mitigate COVID-19 have been hampered by years of low well being funding, which advocates say have left the native, county and state well being departments unprepared for the pandemic.

The symptom-onset metrics undercounted coronavirus instances in Kansas, in keeping with epidemiologists. Graphics representing that knowledge appeared to indicate that new instances had been declining over the previous a number of weeks, once they truly had been growing.

Kansas has been testing giant populations in nursing houses, prisons and meatpacking vegetation — a proactive measure not all states are doing. That effort is discovering lots of of asymptomatic and presymptomatic instances. However the symptom-onset knowledge excludes individuals who by no means get signs and delays reporting individuals who check constructive and ultimately get sick with COVID-19.

This story is a part of a reporting partnership that features KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Well being Information.

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