TOPEKA, KAN. – The state of Kansas will be expanding its coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in counties that are in close proximity to food and meat processing plants. Governor Laura Kelly announced the state has received additional supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help with the testing.

“I want to thank our federal partners for their ongoing efforts to help our state response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kelly said. “I particularly appreciate the assistance from Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Jerry Moran.” 

Lee Norman, MD, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), added, “In order to fight this pandemic, collaboration at the state, local and federal level is paramount. Expanded testing and additional supplies from the federal level will equip and inform our state and local health officials as they work to protect the health of Kansans.”

KDHE is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test in Kansas counties containing food and meat processing plants including Finney, Ford, Lyon and Seward counties.

The plants in southwest Kansas process 25% to 30% of the country’s beef.

“Agriculture is a facet of our state’s most critical infrastructure – Kansas doesn’t just feed the state, we feed the world,” Kelly said. “This is particularly true of our frontline workers in meatpacking plants across the state who process a significant portion of the nation’s supply.”  

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the governor and members of her administration have been in contact with the Kansas processing plants to monitor the number of coronavirus cases at the facilities as well as to monitor their production practices and preventive measures. The facilities have modified several production and shipping practices and have taken proactive measures including temperature and health screenings, enhanced sanitation and social distancing.  

Like many states, Kansas has struggled to obtain the necessary supplies needed to test and treat coronavirus patients. The state received its allocation of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) in late March, but that PPE was distributed to counties throughout the state based on population.