LAWRENCE, Kan. — Fueled in part by college students returning to classes, Kansas has set another pandemic record for the seven-day increase in coronavirus cases, with the surge prompting the Lawrence school district to put the brakes on some fall sports and Hays to extend its mask ordinance.
Statewide, the number of new reported cases rose by 1,111 from Wednesday to Friday, bringing the total to 41,048. The state Department of Health and Environment also reported an additional six COVID-19-related deaths, to put the pandemic total at 443.
The average for the seven days ending Friday was 599, 3.6% more than the previous record of 578 for the seven days ending Wednesday. The state also reported 16 clusters in colleges and universities with 189 cases.T
Amid the rise, the Lawrence school district is following the recommendation of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and suspending some fall sports starting Monday.
“We recognize that the entry testing and high number of tests of University of Kansas students drove the number of new cases,” health department Director Dan Partridge said in a news release. “Given those COVID-19 cases are now in our community, we believe it’s prudent to move to phase Yellow.”
The county had been in a green tier, which allows for for all activities to continue, as long as standard public safety precautions are taken.
Lawrence school district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said competitions in “high risk” activities such as football, competitive cheer and dance, band, choir and possibly soccer would be delayed until health officials deem them safer. Boyle noted the health guidance identifies soccer as a sport that can be modified to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 and continue competing. She said the district will investigate possible modifications.
The Kansas Department of Labor announced Friday that the agency will extend its call center hours to weekday evenings and Saturdays for general inquiries, claim status updates and technical assistance. People with more complex questions will need to call during regular business hours.
“Extending our call center hours makes sense during this unprecedented pandemic,” the agency’s acting secretary, Ryan Wright, said in a news release. “The Department of Labor is making itself available to answer questions when it is convenient for claimants.