Gov. Kelly highlights COVID-19 testing as Kansans wait for first doses of Pfizer vaccine

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 11:21 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly’s All of the Above plan is making great headway as she signs a new Executive Order regarding nursing homes and testing while waiting for the vaccine to arrive in Kansas.

Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas has seen a rise of 5,778 new cases of COVID-19 as well as 85 new deaths related to the virus. She said this brings the state’s total to 179,803 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 1,941 deaths.

Gov. Kelly said hospital capacity and staff shortages due to COVID-19 remain a concern for her administration. She said she wants to ensure to Kansans that her administration is employing every resource possible to help save the lives of Kansans. She said, however, that Kansans must also commit to following COVID-19 mitigation efforts in order to protect Kansas’ most vulnerable.

To that effect, Gov. Kelly said her “all of the above” approach is making widespread progress. She said her team has officially launched the “Stop the Spread. It’s Up to Us Kansas” public health campaign, which was made by Kansans for Kansans. She said as part of the effort, widespread testing remains the most effective way to keep economies from shutting down.

According to Gov. Kelly, residents can now visit to use an interactive map to locate free COVID-19 testing sites throughout the state. She said the website is now live and will be updated as more testing locations are added. She said she expects around 50 more testing locations to join the site be the end of December.

Gov. Kelly said she also signed Executive Order 20-69 which requires all licensed nursing home facilities to follow the same testing rules as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She said the order will go into effect on Monday, Dec. 14. She said she hopes the order provides clarity for nursing facilities on testing practices that prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Laura Howard said in August, the federal government put requirements in place for skilled nursing facilities regarding COVID-19 testing. She said these required the testing of residents that showed symptoms, as well as staff, and to implement routine testing of staff. She said the county positivity rate determined how often facilities would need to routine test their staff. She said the language in Gov. Kelly’s new Executive Order is the same language within the federal requirements.

Gov. Kelly said Kansas is still waiting to receive its first shipment of 24,000 vials of the Pfizer vaccine that will arrive in the state within the week. She said the week of Dec. 14, the state will receive its first shipment of 49,000 vials of the Moderna vaccine. She said her administration is working with internal and external advisory groups regarding the vaccine rollout. She said frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents will remain in the first group to get the vaccine and the second group is being drawn up.

Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, also explained the specifics of the use of ultracold storage on the Pfizer vaccine. He said ultracold storage requires the vaccine to be transported and kept with very specific temperature control and packaging. He said the target temperature for the Pfizer vaccine is -70 degrees centigrade which mandates the use of special packaging for the vaccine. He said the packaging includes a temperature probe and dry ice to keep the vaccine at the right temperature as well as a GPS sensor to alert officials of the location of the vaccine package.

According to Dr. Norman, each Pfizer vaccine package contains five trays with 195 vials on each tray. He said each vial contains five doses of the vaccine so each package contains around 4,875 doses of the vaccine. He said one vial of the vaccine will be distributed to patients with one vial of saline. He said after the vaccine is thawed, it must be injected within five days. He said the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are more sturdy and do not require as much security.

Governor Laura Kelly said she is highlighting the work of Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino this week. She said Dr. Pezzino works for the Shawnee County Health Department as the Local Health Officer and has faced great scrutiny with the arrival of the virus. She said Dr. Pezzino served at the State Department for almost 10 years and before that worked as a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control in its epidemic intelligence program.

Dec. 9, 2020, 11:21 a.m.

Gov. Kelly to host COVID-19 update

Governor Laura Kelly will deliver a COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Governor Laura Kelly says she will hold a news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m., to update Kansans on the state of COVID-19.

If you cannot view our video player, click here or watch along on our Facebook Live.

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