• Teri Finneman/Editor

Douglas County Public Health Board discusses new testing site, resident survey

BY LUCIE KRISMAN Douglas County will have a COVID-19 testing site out of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical's training center, Clinic Services Director Linda Craig told the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Board during its remote meeting Monday.  The test site, at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue, will operate five days a week from approximately 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Craig said individuals who exhibit two or more of the symptom criteria can be tested there and can be tested with or without a fever.  "The goal to put it on the east side of town is to reach the more vulnerable, those that are uninsured and underinsured," Craig said. "We're excited about that and we're hopeful that we will be more accessible to that vulnerable population.

Public Health spokesman George Diepenbrock said they are working to get the test site going within the next week.

Any testing and directing people to the site would still need to be ordered by a physician, similar to how the LMH Health testing site is operating outside of the hospital, he said.

If anyone in Douglas County believes they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they should contact their provider by phone. If they do not have a health care provider, they can call Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health’s coronavirus hotline at 785-505-2819. In addition, LDC Public Health will reopen its clinic next week for symptomatic STD and STI clients to be tested. It will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday for STD and STI testing and the immunization clinic will be open Tuesday and Thursday for immunizing 2- through 4-year-old children.  Both testing and immunization will be done by appointment only. Clients will call the health department upon arriving and wait to be told to come inside for their appointment in order to limit the amount of people inside.  Craig said department staff have been maintaining virtual visits with clients, and the opportunity to use technology for things like virtual screenings and medical visits may change the possibilities for how this work can be done in the future.  "I really commend this staff because we've made leaps and bounds with technology," Craig said. "What this pandemic has done is opened up the reality of how we can utilize technology to continue to do our work and not have to stop it. I think in the future, particularly when we're looking at infectious diseases, this gives employers an opportunity to realize that people can be at home."  ​The board also discussed the online survey Douglas County residents were asked to take last week regarding how many residents are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.  The survey closed at 5 p.m. Monday and yielded over 11,000 responses as of that time, Informatics Director Sonia Jordan said. The data yielded from the survey will be analyzed and fluctuation of the numbers will be watched throughout late spring and early summer.  "The hope is that we can start to get a feel for who is presenting symptoms similar or consistent with COVID-19", Jordan said. "We don't know if they're actual cases or not, but our hope is that this kind of guides our planning efforts."  ​At the time of the meeting, 43 cases of COVID-19 had been identified in Douglas County. Jordan said possible inequities of health consequences depending on race are being tracked and if a threshold of over five cases is exceeded for a certain population, this data will be released by race and ethnicity.

The only group with a threshold of over five at the time of the meeting was white non-Hispanic residents, Jordan said.  "It is definitely something we are keeping a close eye on," Jordan said. "We did collect a lot of demographics in that survey, so our hope is to be able to look at demographics that way too." Director Dan Partridge said members of health departments would have a call Tuesday with Gov. Laura Kelly to discuss the future of lifting or extending local stay-at-home orders and restrictions.  "We feel that it's important that we coordinate any kind of lifting and restrictions in a coordinated way that doesn​'t put other counties out of sync with one another," Partridge said. "The best way to do that is through a coordinated plan with the governor and hopefully that's what we'll see tomorrow."  Board members will next meet at 5 p.m. May 18. Twitter updates from the department can be found here as well as additional information regarding resources on its website

Reach reporter Lucie Krisman at

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