The Miami County Health Department is asking residents to complete a survey that should shed more light on how many people in the region are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.
Health officials plan to use the results to seek out residents who are currently symptomatic. Those who volunteer to be tested will be able to utilize a new drive-through community sampling clinic set to be established locally by the Miami County Health Department.
A link to the survey can be found on the Miami County Health Department’s Facebook page.
This survey is not intended to replace medical care or advice from a medical professional, the health department clarified.
Christena Beer, a disease investigator at the Miami County Health Department, outlined the details of the project in an email to local governmental leaders and health partners Friday, April 24, and the survey was pushed out to the public on Monday, April 27.
“We have partnered with the University of Kansas Medical Center Department of Preventative Medicine and Public Health, utilizing their expertise to create and launch a self-reporting survey to residents of Miami County,” Beer said.
She added that the plan is to push out the survey through multiple avenues, including social media, websites, school districts and local media.
The survey, which is recommended to be completed for each member of the household, can be filled out in about five minutes, Beer said. It will ask a few questions about the respondent’s demographic background, current health status, potential COVID-19 symptoms and profession. If the respondent is currently symptomatic, it will also ask if they would like to be tested. If the respondent indicates interest in testing, further demographic information is collected for the purposes of pre-filling laboratory requisitions for more efficient service at the testing site, and if selected, that person will be contacted with a location and time for testing.
“Based on the potential need acquired from the survey, we are working on securing supplies to have the ability to test anywhere from 200 to 500 Miami County residents who meet criteria for testing at Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories,” Beer said. “We have the ability to oversample certain groups (i.e. profession, geographic location etc.) to ensure that the sample is both representative and meaningful in data collection for the county in its entirety, and we also have the ability to randomize the sample. Once we have more demographic information, as well as number of respondents currently symptomatic, we can better narrow down our sample group(s) based on need.”
Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), recently stated during a press conference that a rate of five tests per 1,000 persons is needed to really understand what’s happening in a certain area.
Beer said Miami County’s rate of testing, as of April 24, is 5.14 per 1,000 persons.
“Our rate of testing is not necessarily concerning compared to Kansas counties who have nowhere near the testing availability that Miami County has, but increasing our testing capacity will provide data that gives more information about the prevalence of the virus in our county, and it will also identify people who are infected so case investigation and contact tracing can be completed to minimize potential exposures within the community,” Beer said. “Increased testing will also provide information on hospital capacities, measure the effectiveness of the interventions, and assist in making data-driven decisions when determining our plan to ease restrictions and the phases that will be recommended to reopen.”
A specific location for the drive-through testing clinic has not yet been finalized, but Beer said it will be in Paola at a location that will have the layout and specifications to accommodate drive-through testing.
Depending on the results of the survey, Beer said two to four additional clinics may be set up on future dates if enough residents who are symptomatic volunteer to be tested.
“The test will be at no cost to the individual being tested, as we are sending specimens to KHEL,” Beer said.
She added that Olathe Health and Miami County Medical Center have offered to support the mission and will provide staff and supplies to assist in the specimen collection and courier service to KHEL.
Sheriff Frank Kelly and Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Whelan have offered to help secure a site, traffic and security needs, as well as provide other needed equipment for the number of people invited.
“We all have been compounded by the immensity of the unknowns, and if we knew more about the prevalence of COVID-19, we can remarkably improve our resource allocation,” Beer said. “Furthermore, in conjunction with Governor Kelly’s guidance, we can collaboratively make decisions about where, when and how we can safely reopen parts of our economy.”
Miami County has had five confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the only active case being a resident in their 30s who was added to the report Saturday, April 25.
The health department reported that multiple close contacts of the individual have been identified and contacted with further instruction and monitoring for any symptoms.
Although the case investigation is still ongoing, no specific exposure has been identified at this time, and it will be classified as a local transmission, the department reported.
The other four cases involving Miami County residents have already recovered.
The department reported that 188 Miami County residents have been tested.
Kansas has 3,328 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in 75 counties that have resulted in 496 hospitalizations and 120 deaths as of 8 a.m. Monday, April 27, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
KDHE reported the state has logged 23,839 negative tests. Wyandotte County has the most cases at 573, followed by Ford County, 516; Johnson County, 440; Seward County, 349; Sedgwick County, 339; Leavenworth County, 184; Finney County, 175; Lyon County, 147; and Shawnee County, 105.