The number of people confirmed positive for COVID-19 are expected to rise in Geary County as more testing is done. With limited test kits available, health officials have been conservative with using them.

However, as more resources become available the net of residents who are eligible for testing will widen. Ashley King, Geary Community Hospital director of communications, said she hopes hospital staff will start testing residents and employees at area nursing homes and people who work for some of the larger employers in the near future.

“I think you will see more and more relaxed (requirements for testing) as access to test kits become available,” King said. “Our state is getting our hands on a lot more kits than they had in the beginning.”

Until then anyone who feels they need a test has to have an order from a physician. If the person does not have a primary doctor, they can call the GCH COVID-19 hotline.

“The nurse will ask you a few questions (to determine) whether she feels that you need to be tested or if she wants to you stay home and watch your symptoms,” King said.

If the nurse believes a test is necessary, she will make that appointment for the patient.

A similar protocol is used at Konza Prairie Health Center where anyone with a respiratory issue is screened in a tent set up outside of the facility.

“We want to do as much for the community as we possibly can while still aligning with both federal and state guidance and local guidance as well and making sure that our response is consistent with community partners,” said Dani Holliday, public information officer. “If there’s a change in the numbers of tests available and what that process looks like, we will be sure to implement it quickly.”

Throughout this pandemic, Holliday said the staff at Konza has adjusted operations sometimes overnight, to accommodate changing guidance from the state or federal level.

While she has seen an increase in test kits become available, she said it has not yet been enough to justify wide-spread testing.

“It hasn’t been dramatic enough to just open up and allow it to be no appointments, asymptomatic patients, everybody gets a test — that’s not what we’ve seen so far in terms of supplies,” she said. “But we’re hopeful that that will be the case in the near future.”

Using the Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidance staff at Konza has administered slightly more than 40 tests with two coming back positive. Geary Community Hospital has tested just over 200 with eight coming back positive. The health department reports 14 cases in the county.

According to the KDHE website 445 tests have comeback with negative results and one person required hospitalization.

“Some of (the tests) are going to be from Fort Riley,” said Tammy Von Busch, Geary County Health Department director.

Soldiers who test positive, regardless of where they receive the test, are reported in the county they live in. If they live on Fort Riley, they are counted in Geary County.

Fort Riley reports COVID-19 cases in accordance with state law and directly coordinates with state and county public health officials. However, they do not release details, said Steve Elstrom, Fort Riley Public Affairs director.

“The U.S. Army still has an operational mission and must be prepared to counter threats,” he said. “So, for operational security reasons, we will not publicly announce service member statistics via media release nor social media.”

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