Health Department: If your kids have symptoms, keep them home

By Adam Strunk

Active Covid-19 cases are low. Get tested early and keep your kids home when necessary to keep it that way.

That was the gist of the weekly COVID-19 update given Tuesday by Lynnette Redington, Harvey County Health Department director.

“We have a lot of seasonal allergies happening out there or people getting a little bit of a scratchy throat. Things like that. They don’t automatically go, ‘oh, it’s a COVID symptom,’” she said. “At this time and age, we really need to think this might be a COVID exposure.”
She noted that a lot of the cases they are seeing now come from unknown spread. That could mean people spread the disease without knowing they had it. 
“We want to take every illness that you’re feeling, take it to heart that it might be COVID.”
She said the health department is seeing people with symptoms wait for relatively long periods of time before getting tested.

That behavior is shown in the current number of cases. The county lists 19 new cases over the last seven days, but only 12 active cases. Usually, it takes 10 days after symptom onset before the county clears people to leave their quarantine.

Redington said that’s because a number of people didn’t get tests until they had symptoms for a while and by the time results got back, they were nearly through the period they would have had to have been quarantined.

She said that for the most part, people were isolating in those situations. If they don’t, it could contribute to more community spread, she explained.

“If the folks aren’t staying home, we have a lot more contacts to find to help them stay quarantined,” she said.

She also asked people to make sure they stayed isolated while preparing for test results.

The county is preparing for increased contact tracing with the start of school classes in September.

Redington said that so far, there have been no clusters or outbreaks at schools, though some students were in quarantine from various exposures.

Derby, Atwood, Overland Park, Haysville and other Kansas schools have had to quarantine students and take other measures due to infections.
She said it was important parents take their children’s symptoms seriously.

“We want you to take it serious and not say, ‘oh, it’s their typical allergies’. It could be, but we want you to pick up the phone and call the provider. “

She said that in the past, if a student was fever free for 24 hours, they were good to go to school.

That’s not the case, today.

“With COVID, we don’t want to do that,” she said. “It’s 72 hours. We also want to make sure testing gets done if they have COVID symptoms.”
Those symptoms she said included chills, fever, cough, diarrhea, loss of smell or taste, sore throat or vomiting.

She said that the choice to send a sick kid to school could result in the quarantine of many students, perhaps those on the bus, those in classes with them, those at lunch at them or those at recess with them, depending on how close the contacts are.

“It could mean a lot of students in quarantine or staff members in quarantine, most likely.”

Redington said to help make that as uncommon as possible, keep kids at home if sick and make sure parents and children could continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands.

In total, 339 Harvey County Residents have tested positive for the disease. Five have died.

Daily averages of new cases had been steadily declining in recent weeks. From last week, however, they increased from 1.57 cases per day to 2.7 cases per day. It’s too early to tell if it’s a trend.

The percent of COVID-19 tests returning positive results remain low.

The county puts the two-week positivity rate at 3.75 percent.