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Governor: Kansas to double COVID-19 testing by year’s end

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 2:41 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly announced more details about the state’s Unified Testing Strategy on Wednesday. She said the plan is for Kansas to double testing for COVID-19 by the end of the year from 600,000 to more than one million, with the help of SPARK funding.

“Broadly speaking, the new strategy identifies where Kansas currently stands and paints a picture of where we need to go and how we can get there," she said at her news conference on Wednesday.

Gov. Kelly said the goal is to move from screening to surveillance by expanding labs and supplies, increasing public communication, access to quarantine space and examining wastewater where the virus is not active, but remnants can help stop an outbreak before it starts.

“We are just losing Kansans day in and day out. This cannot continue. We cannot continue to leave individuals and businesses and our schools at risk like this. We’ve got to do something,” she said.

The governor said the strategy will coordinate both public and private COVID-19 testing efforts across Kansas to allow for broader routine screening in places like schools and nursing homes to stop community spread before it starts. She said the initiative is important for high-risk populations and to help businesses keep their doors open.

The governor said Kansas will with the National Institutes of Health on improved testing for under-served and vulnerable populations through the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Initiative. The goal will be to build a learning collaborative with the support University of Kansas Medical Center.

On Tuesday, the governor met with legislative leaders in hopes of coming with a bipartisan mask mandate. Instead, Republican leaders said they wanted to strongly encourage counties to implement their own local health orders. The push comes as Kansas adds more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 and tops 1,000 virus-related deaths. The state also reported a 10.54% positivity rate for testing, which tops the 10% suggested for schools and businesses to reopen safely, the governor said.

Gov. Kelly said legislators are convening a meeting with point people to work with the governor’s office, including the League of Municipalities in Kansas and the Kansas Association of Counties to figure out the best strategy on getting Kansans to wear masks.

“We can contain this virus and give our scientists the time to develop a vaccine that will allow us to resume our normal activities," she said. “If that doesn’t work, and doesn’t work very quickly, then everything else is still on the table”

Gov. Laura Kelly is set to update Kansans on the state’s response to COVID-19.

The news conference is set for 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.

She will address her meeting with legislative leaders about their plans to educate the public on the need for wearing a face mask.

You can watch the news conference here:

If the video player does not load, CLICK HERE.

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