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Spike in COVID-19 cases in Ford County comes with significant increase in testing

(KWCH)
Published: Apr. 27, 2020 at 6:52 PM CDT
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As of Monday (April 27), Ford County has the second most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas, trailing only Wyandotte County. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports 516 cases in Ford County. While the number stands out, health officials note that this spike comes with a significant increase in testing after the state identified clusters at meat-processing plants, including in Dodge City.

Dr. Roger Marshall, the congressman who represents much of western Kansas, was in Ford County Monday, helping healthcare workers continue to administer tests for COVID-19.

Dr. Marshall says Ford County has tested more than 1,000 people and that testing is necessary to keep meatpacking plants open in southwest Kansas. Those plants alone process 25 percent of the nation's beef.

Marshall says more testing allows healthcare workers to more easily separate those who are sick so that processing plants can continue to operate and keep employees safe.

He says some parts of Kansas are ready to start reopening, but southwest Kansas needs a few more weeks.

"We need to keep the packing plants open, if possible, as long as we can make it safe for employees," Marshall says. "Agriculture is able to keep moving because they work in social isolation. But in southwest Kansas, we need to stay home."

Marshall is set to help healthcare workers in Finney County on Tuesday and says he will then self-quarantine for 14 days.