Coronavirus coverage

When you see this image throughout this and subsequent editions of the newspaper, it denotes special report coverage related to COVID-19.

CLAY COUNTY — The county Public Health Center reports three cases of novel coronavirus within its testing jurisdiction were confirmed Monday, March 23, through lab tests. The cases consist of one male and one female in their 50s and one woman in her 80s. The cases are unrelated.

“None of the individuals have recently traveled, which indicates community spread is occurring,” states a Clay County Public Health Center release.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread across the Kansas City metro area and Clay County is no exception,” said Director of Public Health Gary E. Zaborac. “We want to make it clear to everyone that prevention against COVID-19 should be taken seriously. At this time, we are asking everyone follow the shelter-in-place order to protect our families, friends and neighbors and help to keep our health care facilities from being overwhelmed.”

The cases within Clay County Public Health’s reporting jurisdiction bring the total reported in Clay County to nine. Zaborac said the other six cases are from people who live north of the Missouri River in Clay County, but in Kansas City, which falls under Kansas City’s Public Health Department region. Those six cases were confirmed Sunday, March 22.

Clay County Public Health Center is conducting formal investigations into how each patient became infected with the disease and will attempt to notify anyone they have been in close contact with.

“However, the Kansas City region is already seeing cases of community spread, meaning the disease is so widespread that it is often unclear how a patient became infected,” states the county release.

Zaborac said when a patient reports for testing at a health care provider, whether a doctor’s office or hospital, the coronavirus test is sent to a lab. Positive reports are sent to the facility where testing was conducted along with the state health department and local reporting agency, such as Clay County Public Health Center. How long lab results take to return, Zaborac said, depends on the number of tests being performed at the lab. No testing is conducted at county health center.

“Then, at that point, it institutes the investigation that includes that infection tracing,” he told the Courier-Tribune Monday.

On Sunday, Clay County Public Health Center joined other areas in the region in implementing stay-at-home orders for all who live and work in Clay County. The order begins March 24 and lasts until April 24. In addition to staying at home unless absolutely necessary, the health department urges the public to take other important actions at this time.

“These include washing hands well and often, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects and keeping 6 feet away from others when outside your home,” states the release. “Additionally, if you are sick, isolate at home to prevent the spread of germs and only leave to seek medical care. If you experience symptoms such as cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, please call your health care provider or urgent care clinic to receive guidance and arrange a test if appropriate. Do not go to the emergency room unless you are having troubling breathing and need immediate medical attention.”