Health department relaxes testing protocols; 2,927 cases of COVID-19 overall | News, Sports, Jobs

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photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Oct. 29 COVID-19 update from the health department.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced Thursday that it is relaxing its testing protocols.

The health department can now offer tests to anyone experiencing just one COVID-19 symptom, and the availability of a test does not rely on an exposure to a positive case. If someone has been deemed a close contact of a positive case but is not experiencing symptoms, they may also get tested.

George Diepenbrock, spokesperson for the health department, said Douglas County was able to relax its testing protocols based on recommendations from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Since the health department’s testing is done through the state laboratory, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health has had to follow KDHE’s guidelines. Diepenbrock said it is his understanding that KDHE is trying to reduce barriers to testing to enhance awareness of the disease in Kansas.

KDHE’s spokesperson Kristi Zears did not immediately respond to a question from the Journal-World concerning how KDHE was able to reduce barriers, but a Thursday afternoon press release from Gov. Laura Kelly’s office stated that the State Finance Council approved investing $45 million more in COVID-19 testing across Kansas.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director Dan Partridge said in a Thursday statement that the health department believes the community is doing a good job with masking and social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus in the community, particularly compared to other areas of the state.

“But we also want to encourage anyone who believes they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms — even if you don’t know you were potentially exposed — to get tested. With more recently relaxed testing protocols, we can now offer tests to anyone experiencing only one potential COVID-19 symptom,” he said.

Douglas County reported 2,927 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, an increase of 29 cases since Wednesday. In Douglas County, 2,654 out of the 2,927 cases are inactive or beyond the infectious period, according to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, meaning 273 cases are active.

The county has averaged about 16 new cases per day over the last 14 days, according to a 14-day moving average graph updated weekdays by the health department. The current average of 16.36 new cases per day is down from a high of 46 cases per day in early September and up from a recent low of nine cases per day in early August. The health department reported that the county’s 14-day average positivity rate is at 5.2%.

Five patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Thursday, one more than Wednesday.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

14-day moving average test positivity rate for COVID-19 in Douglas County as of Oct. 29.

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