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You can contact Child Care Aware of Kansas at 1-877-678-2548 if you need help finding licensed child care options. Additionally, the following child care arrangements do not require a license from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE):
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is currently recommending that child care operations continue operating at this time. However, local health officers may choose to make more stringent guidelines for local communities, up to and including mandatory closures. Childcare providers should be in close contact with their county health department to stay up to date with the latest guidance. Child care facilities may voluntarily choose to close for a period of time. KDHE Child Care Licensing will not issue blanket exceptions to increase capacity or eliminate other health or safety requirements. Child care facilities may not operate at alternate locations without a temporary license. Existing child care facilities must continue to operate within the terms of their license and comply with requirements.
Find more information on daycare guidance.
While the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) supports continued child care operations, the Department recognizes that some licensees may make the difficult decision to temporarily close. Factors to consider include:
KDHE requests that licensees notify their local licensing surveyor when temporarily closing their facility and to let the surveyor know when the facility re-opens.
Updated: April 3, 2020
No. In the absence of more restrictive guidance from the state or local public health officer to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you are not required to close. However, you may choose to close based on your specific situation as stated above. Licensees are encouraged to remain in close communication with their local public health department as situations regarding COVID-19 are changing frequently. For additional information, refer to the Interim Guidance for Child Care Facilities licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Yes. Strong practices for screening for signs and symptoms of illness, exclusion policies, and increased sanitation are essential. These provisions are in place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When enrolling new children and hiring new staff, screen by asking appropriate questions. At a minimum, consider the following:
Is anyone showing signs of illness and symptoms?
Yes. To reduce the number of individuals touching serving dishes and utensils it is permissible to temporarily discontinue the practice of children passing and serving themselves. Staff should continue to sit with children during meals and encourage socialization.
Yes, please complete the short survey available on the KDHE Child Care Licensing homepage to notify KDHE of the temporary closure and provide this update to your local licensing surveyor. Be sure to complete the reopen survey, also available on the KDHE Child Care Licensing homepage, and notify your local licensing surveyor when you reopen.
Yes, you may renew your license. We strongly recommend renewing at this time to prevent future delays. KDHE staff are available to process applications and to issue renewal licenses.
Added: April 13, 2020
KDHE license renewals are no longer waived. Outstanding child care renewal applications were due by June 16, 2021.
Updated: June 24, 2021
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) continues to request initial surveys and issue licenses. KDHE has the authority to issue a second temporary permit when deemed necessary. If more time is needed to complete the initial survey, a second temporary permit will be issued. Pursuant to EO 20-19 the second temporary permit will remain effective until an initial survey is completed and a license is issued or for 90 days following termination of the emergency declaration (date not yet determined), whichever comes first.
If a licensed facility is located in a school building that is currently closed, you will need approval from the school district and the local public health officer in order to continue operating at that location. Programs are only authorized to operate at the location printed on the license.
We recognize that in some areas access to certain foods and supplies continues to be an issue. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has been working with our statewide partners to identify needs and troubleshoot solutions. Many communities are already addressing the problem locally through partnerships with local public health and emergency managers. Start by contacting your local licensing surveyor and resource and referral agency to see if they can assist you in connecting with local resources. Your local school district may also be able to connect you. The response to these needs may vary by community.
There are no waivers or exceptions to processes or regulations in place related to the COVID-19 response. This includes issuing temporary licenses for an existing facility to operate in an alternate location.
KDHE has not set enrollment criteria beyond what is permitted by regulation and under the terms of your license. It is important to keep in mind that local health officials have the authority to apply more restrictions to child care operations (e.g., who can be served, group size, etc.) than the state/KDHE when not otherwise stated in an Executive Order.
The total capacity, as stated on the license, is the maximum number of children that may be present at the facility at one time. Licensees may further limit the number of children based on their own unique situation and ability to meet the health and safety needs of the children in care.
In the absence of more restrictive guidance from state or local health officials, new enrollment is permitted in accordance to the terms of the current license (ages of children, group sizes, total capacity, etc.).
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is not putting limits on group size for child care because the Governor’s Executive Orders have exempted child care from these requirements. In the absence of more restrictive guidance from state or county public health officials, facilities may continue to operate within the terms of the current license. Local health officials may enforce more restrictive requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As a public health matter and in order to meet goals to reduce the spread of infection, following foundational health and safety requirements are protective measures for all--child care providers/staff, the children in care, and families (caregiver’s and children’s). For this reason, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) will not be granting exceptions to exceed license capacity or eliminate other health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 response.
In the absence of more restrictive guidance from state or local health officials, the provisions of the existing regulation (K.A.R. 28-4-114(j)(2)) apply. In addition to the number of children permitted under the terms of the license, K.A.R. 28-4-114(j) authorizes two additional school age children to be present full days during scheduled or emergency school closures. As authorized by the regulation, two additional school age children may be present in the licensed day care home/group day care home if a school district adopts a hybrid attendance model (part time in the classroom/part time remote learning) or a fully remote learning environment model during the 2020-2021 school year.
The Kansas State of Emergency expired on June 15, 2021. Licensees must submit the necessary request for background checks for individuals working, regularly volunteering, or residing in the facility. Fingerprinting must be completed. All affiliates required to have a comprehensive background check are now required to complete fingerprinting pursuant to K.S.A. 65-516.
New prints are required if staff previously working for school districts are transitioning to work in licensed child care facilities. The reason for this is that background check information cannot be shared between agencies or businesses (in this case, school and child care) and each may have specific prohibitions mandated by law. Keep in mind that individuals transferring from one licensed child care facility to another licensed facility would not need to be fingerprinted if they had previously passed a fingerprint-based background check.
Yes. To accommodate the needs of parents, effective August 10, 2020 licensed school age programs may permit children attending kindergarten this fall to attend their program prior to the official start of the school year. Licensed capacity and staff/child ratios must be maintained at all times. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, school age programs must revert to the terms of their current license.
Yes. Children may remain in the preschool unit until the start of the school year provided that the unit capacity and staff/child ratios are met. As an alternative, effective August 10, 2020 centers with units for kindergarten enrollees or school age units may transition children scheduled to attend school this fall to the next appropriate unit. Licensed capacity and staff/child ratios must be maintained at all times. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, child care centers must revert to the terms of their current license.
Many training partners, including Child Care Aware of Kansas and Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities, are offering KDHE-approved initial health and safety training online.
The Kansas State of Emergency expired on June 15, 2021. Beginning August 17, 2021 all requirements related to this training must be completed, current and on file.
Updated: June 24, 2021
Yes. In response to this outbreak, you may adopt social distancing practices intended to limit exposure to COVID-19. This may include asking parents to wait at the door or otherwise limit movement within the licensed premises.
Note: Be sure that all parents are aware of your practice/procedure and that you apply the practice uniformly across all families. For additional information, please see the comprehensive guidance for licensed child care facilities.
Updated: April 14, 2020
Many training partners offer KDHE-approved professional development training online. However, pursuant to EO 20-19 licensees and staff will have 90 days following the termination of the emergency declaration (date to be determined) to complete the annual professional development/in-service training hours required to renew the license.
Note: Be sure to remain current on the KDHE recommendations for screening as well as quarantine and isolation of travelers, continuously updated on the COVID-19 Resource Center. Additional information related to screening for symptoms of illness information is included in the Interim Guidance for Child Care Facilities on the COVID-19 (PDF). Additional information pertaining to isolation, quarantine, and travel is also available via our Isolation & Quarantine FAQs. Information about travel guidelines is also available through our Isolation & Quarantine Toolkit.
Screen children and staff for signs and symptoms as outlined above before daily admittance and monitor health throughout the day. In addition to asking the questions above, observe children and staff for signs of illness and check for fever. For more information, review the guidance for licensed child care facilities available on the COVID-19 Resource Microsite (https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/) under the Child Care and Foster Care tab.
In the absence of more restrictive guidance from state or county public health officials, there is nothing special a facility needs to do if children from other counties with confirmed cases are receiving care in a facility or if children being served are those of health care/emergency workers. The same guidance for screening for signs and symptoms of illness and exclusion apply.
First, review and update your current policies for the exclusion of sick children and staff as necessary. Determine how screenings will be conducted prior to entry and how health will be monitored throughout the day. Make sure that parents of children in care and staff are aware and follow the policies.
a fever greater than 100.4 degrees (F)
shortness of breath
sudden loss of smell or taste
other signs of illness (headache, sore throat, general aches/pains, fatigue/weakness/extreme exhaustion)
Current information about when individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home is available on the COVID-19 Resource Microsite and on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.
Updated: April 24, 2020
Immediately notify the local health department and your local licensing surveyor if someone who is infected (child, staff or resident of family child care home) has been in the licensed facility. The local health department will help determine a course of action for the facility.
To reduce the spread of illnesses, including COVID-19, it is important to intensify cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and frequently touched items, including but not limited to doorknobs, light switches, handrails, toys, furnishings, playground structures, and other frequently touched or shared items. In addition to the guidance for licensed child care facilities and the COVID-19 Cleaning & Disinfection Guidance: Non-Healthcare Settings available on the KDHE COVID-19 Resource Microsite, Caring for Our Children, National Health and Safety Performance Standards (https://nrckids.org/CFOC) has nationally recognized standards for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection of child care facilities. The CDC has detailed information at Cleaning and Disinfecting and a list of EPA products is available at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2. When choosing products be sure to read the label and carefully follow directions.
Updated: May 13, 2021
Yes, diluted bleach may be used. However, before purchasing bleach or a bleach product read the label. Some bleaches, for example Splash-less®, are only intended for laundry use, not for sanitizing or disinfecting.
Refer parents to the Child Care Aware website or toll-free number 877-678-2548 for assistance with searching for child care in their area. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has online information system that serves as a tool to support families in making informed child care choices and can be used to review compliance history of a current or potential child care provider. The online tool is an important step to verifying that a facility is licensed and provides compliance history for parents and guardians.
Providers are individual operators/licensees and set their own rates and policies regarding fee payments. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and local public health officials have no authority to set rates or limits on fees.
Recent federal legislation, the CARES Act, provides several forms of economic relief for small businesses, including child care.
Please contact your DCF Provider Enrollment staff or call 1-822-765-2003.
The CACFP program utilized by many licensed child care facilities is administered through the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). Current information about the program, including guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, is available on the CACFP website.
For more information about local licensing contacts, visit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Child Care Licensing website and click on Local County Contacts.
There are no waivers or exceptions to processes or regulations in place related to COVID-19 response. This includes issuing a temporary license. For more information about applying to become licensed, contact your local licensing surveyor to start the process. For more information about local licensing contacts, visit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Child Care Licensing website and click on Local County Contacts.
Note: A license is not required for:
Both the CDC and KDHE recommend the use of masks in public and other settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. KDHE recommends wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose, mouth and chin and has multiple layers of fabric. Alternatively, a thinner disposable mask may be worn underneath a cloth face mask to improve the fit. For more information, visit https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/DocumentCenter/View/441/KDHE-MaskGuidance-PDF---3-1-21. Local health officials and employers can apply additional health and safety requirements, including the use of masks in child care settings. When masks are worn, care should be taken to avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and to wash hands immediately after removing. Masks should be washed frequently. Staff wearing masks should consider the speech and language skills of young children as visual access to caregivers’ mouths is critical to infant/toddler speech development. Additionally, be aware that young children may try to touch or remove the mask from their caregiver which could result in contamination. Licensees should consult with parents before routinely requiring 9 | Page 3/11/2021 10:01 AM children in care to wear a mask. If feasible and necessary, children two years of age and older may safely wear masks once they are able to: put one on and remove it without assistance and are able to avoid touching or sucking on it. Masks should not be placed on anyone—adult or child—who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove their mask without assistance. More information about the use of masks and facial coverings is available on the KDHE COVID-19 Resource Center and CDC website. CDC also has specific Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open. A note about face shields (made of see-through material and covering the entire face): KDHE is not recommending that face shields be routinely used by young children in child care settings, with or without a mask. CDC does not recommend the use of a face shield for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks. Additionally, CDC guidance specifically states that plastic face shields for newborns and infants are NOT recommended. It isn’t known if face shields provide any benefit as a control measure to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. Some adults may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with others is expected. If used without a mask, a face shield should wrap around the sides of the individual’s face and extend below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be used one time. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Notify the local health department and your local licensing surveyor if someone in the facility (child, staff or resident of a family child care home) has been notified that they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19. The local health department will help determine a course of action for the facility.
Child care providers were eligible for vaccination in Phase 2 of the vaccination schedule and as of March 29, Kansas has been in Phase 5, meaning anyone 16+ is now eligible to receive the vaccine. The Kansas COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and weekly updates are available at COVID-19 Vaccine | KDHE COVID-19. Information from the CDC is available at COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC.
Updated May 13, 2021
Yes. If you have been fully vaccinated the CDC recommends that you continue to wear a mask when in an indoor public setting and when gathering with unvaccinated people (including children) from more than one other household. For the most up to date guidance regarding how to protect yourself and others when you have been fully vaccinated go to the KDHE COVID-19 Resource Center and CDC website.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) website has guidance for people who visit homes regularly for a living. It includes how to assess the situation before going into the home and reassessing once in the home.
Review Guidance for Workers Who Go Into Homes (PDF).
KDHE is still approving licensures for daycares in Kansas. Home-based daycares frequently have ten or fewer kids, so are still in line with KDHE guidance for social distancing. We are working with daycare and childcare centers that have more than ten children to make sure that they are following proper protocols for the safety of the families and teachers involved. All daycares should take extra precautions to prevent the spread of illness, and children who exhibit any symptoms of illness should stay home.
You can call Child Care Aware of Kansas and they can help you find a licensed facility. The phone number is 1-877-678-2548.
County health officers have the authority to enforce quarantine orders in their county. If you are concerned about work environment, you should contact your county health department, who can put you in touch with your county health officer.
If you are not working or working reduced hours due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program was established to protect those who are unemployed due to no fault of their own. It is designed to be a short-term assistance program and may be able to help those whose employment has been adversely impacted by COVID-19. Contact the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) in your area with questions or to get more information on the KDOL website.
All questions regarding unemployment need to be directed to the Kansas Department of Labor.
Yes. Spanish materials that can be handed out to consumers are now availableon our website.
KDHE's travel list was updated for the final time on February 17, 2022. Beginning March 3, Kansans should refer to the guidance on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's travel advisory page.
See what steps to take if you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 on our If You Develop Symptoms in Quarantine page.
If you have been told by a public health professional or other authority that you are a close contact of a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19, you should quarantine yourself after your last contact with the case depending on whether you have been tested for COVID-19 and preference of local health officer. (See Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance).
You are a "close contact" if any of the following situations happened while you spent time with a person with COVID-19, even if they didn’t have symptoms:
The chance of spreading the virus is greater the longer an infected person or persons are close to someone. It also matters if the infected person is coughing, sneezing, singing, shouting, or doing anything else that produces more respiratory droplets that contain virus or if there are exposures to more than one infected person. Under these higher risk situations, you may want to consider a close contact someone who has been within 6 feet of an infectious person or persons for 10 cumulative minutes or more in a 24-hour period.
The final decision on what constitutes close contact is made at the discretion of public health.
People who work in healthcare, public health, law enforcement and the meat packing industry may be allowed a modified quarantine, which allows them to continue working during quarantine period while wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as long as they remain symptom free. The decision to allow a modified quarantine is made by the local health officer.
Employees who were potentially exposed to COVID-19 due to exposure to a case should monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including checking for a fever of 100.4 (F) or higher at least twice per day and monitoring for lower respiratory symptoms including cough or shortness of breath. Use this symptoms log. If symptoms develop during the quarantine period, employees should stop work immediately and notify their employer and public health. Isolation of Lab-confirmed Cases of COVID-19
Lab-confirmed cases, including healthcare, public health, and law enforcement workers must be isolated in the same manner as any other lab-confirmed case.
In some dire circumstances where there is a shortage of healthcare staff, asymptomatic healthcare staff who are positive may be allowed to continue working if they continue to be asymptomatic, are wearing appropriate PPE, are only working with COVID-19 positive patients and cannot expose other staff, and can ensure that no common spaces will be shared with non COVID-19 staff and patients. This exception must be allowed by the county’s local health officer. If you have questions, contact your local county health department, or KDHE at 877-427-7317.
KDHE continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine following exposure to COVID-19, as the incubation period for this disease is 14 days. CDC has released a modified guidance allowing for shorter quarantine periods to increase better compliance with quarantine and increase people getting tested. Local Health Departments may choose to opt into this guidance. For information in your county, please contact your local health department. See Updated Quarantine & Isolation Guidance
Learn what steps to take if you are in quarantine for exposure to a case on our What to Do if in Quarantine for Exposure page.
Visit Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance as the quarantine requirements vary.
Find information on what to do if you develop symptoms while in quarantine on our Developing Symptoms While in Quarantine page.
If your symptoms are not severe enough to be hospitalized, it may be appropriate for you to isolate at home. Learn more.
Find information on what to do if you are in isolation due to being a lab-confirmed case on our Isolation for Lab-Confirmed Cases page.
Lab-confirmed cases, including healthcare, public health, and law enforcement workers must be isolated in the same manner as any other lab-confirmed case. See Isolation for Lab-Confirmed Cases for determining if home isolation is recommended and find tips to assist.
Each county’s Local Health Officer, as well as State Health Officer at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has the authority to issue isolation and quarantine orders. Learn more.
You can use this chart (PDF) when people talk about their symptoms.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) website has a map that is regularly updated that gives a variety of data regarding COVID-19 in Kansas.
Do not use surgical masks or N95 masks. These masks are considered specialized personal protective equipment (PPE) and should be reserved for first responders and health care workers to protect from serious injuries or illnesses while doing their jobs. If you have supplies of PPE, consider donating them.
Homemade masks are NOT meant to replace proven public health strategies like staying home, social distancing and practicing good hygiene, which are all still the best ways to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. If used correctly, masks are simply another tool to help people who may have the virus -- but don’t know it -- from transmitting it to others. KDHE recommends wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose, mouth and chin and has multiple layers of fabric. Alternatively, a thinner disposable mask may be worn underneath a cloth face mask to improve the fit. Visit KDHE’s Mask Guidance for more information.
To use a homemade mask safely and effectively, remember this helpful acronym: M.A.S.K.M = Multi-layered, tightly-woven 100% cotton --180+ thread count. Don’t buy surgical or N95 masks.A = Avoid your face. Never touch the front of the mask. Always remove it from behind your head.S = Scrap it if it’s damaged, soiled or doesn’t fit. Make sure it’s breathable and fits snug. Don’t use while it’s damp, wet or dirty.K = Keep the mask and your hands clean. Wash your hands before and after use. Wash or dispose the mask after every use.
Learn how to make a mask.
Learn about children and masks.
Based on what we know at this time, pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women.i A recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) study found that pregnant women are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), receive invasive ventilation and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO - a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung and back into the bloodstream of a very ill person), and are at increased risk of death compared to nonpregnant women.ii Information suggests that pregnant women with comorbidities (more than one disease or condition) such as obesity are at increased risk for severe illness as is the general population with similar comorbidities.iii Additionally, studies are finding that other factors, such as age and occupation, can further increase a pregnant person’s risk for developing severe illness.iv However, as pregnancy itself has now been identified as a risk factor for certain outcomes, more research is needed to determine the magnitude of this increased risk.ii It is therefore important for pregnant women to take extra precautions to protect themselves from illness and talk with their provider about any concerns they may have.
Updated: November 18, 2020
i Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Caring for Newborns; updated November 3, 2020; retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
ii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); Pregnancy Data; updated November 13, 2020; retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/special-populations/pregnancy-data-on-covid-19.html
iii The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Clinical Guidance; Practice Advisory; Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19); updated July 1, 2020 with summary of key updates made November 6, 2020retrieved from https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2020/03/novel-coronavirus-2019
Although much is still unknown, emerging data, suggests that COVID-19 may activate blood clotting pathways and can lead to excessive inflammation that can cause damage to tissues throughout the body, making a pregnant woman more at risk for complications during the pregnancy and postpartum periods. “Additionally, there may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth.”iv
Although there are cases reported of transmission of the virus from mom to baby in-utero or during the birthing process, the data are reassuring that this appears to be uncommon.ii Transmission to the baby is thought to occur primarily through respiratory droplets during the postnatal period when neonates are exposed to mothers, other caregivers, visitors, or healthcare personnel with COVID-19v. It is critical that appropriate precautions are taken after delivery to prevent the spread of the virus from the mother to the infant. At this time, experts say there is no need to change the timing or method (cesarean vs. vaginal) of delivery to decrease the risk of spread to the infant.vii Most newborns who have tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and have recovered fully. However, there are a few reports of newborns with severe illness.i In the rare case of infant death, it has not been determined if it was due to the virus or other underlying (original, or already existing) conditions.
Current data [gathered through case reviews and the Perinatal COVID-19 Registry] suggest that approximately 2-5% of infants born to women with COVID-19 near the time of delivery have tested positive in the first 24-96 hours after birth. [It is] not yet know[n] if any of the newborns reported to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Registry have become ill at home following hospital discharge. There are few case series of pediatric COVID-19 published to date, but clinicians and families should be aware that there are published reports of infants requiring hospitalization before one month of age due to severe COVID-19 infection.vi
Although there is much that is still unknown about this virus and its effect on perinatal women and infants, what we do know tells us how extremely important it is for you and your baby to have frequent follow-up with your medical provider/s during the pregnancy, postpartum, and newborn periods.
A nationwide study is taking place now to help pregnant women and the medical community learn more about how COVID-19 effects pregnant women and their newborns. If you are pregnant or recently pregnant and are under investigation for COVID-19 or have been confirmed to have COVID-19, you are encouraged to participate in this study. To learn more about the study and how to enroll, please visit the PRIORITY Study website.
iv Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); Caring for Pregnant Women; revised May 20, 2020; retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/inpatient-obstetric-healthcare-guidance.html
v Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Caring for Newborns; updated May 20,2020; retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/caring-for-newborns.html
vi American Academy of Pediatrics; Critical Updates on COVID-19; Clinical Guidance; FAQs: Management of Infants Born to COVID-19 Mothers; updated 7/22/20; retrieved from https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/faqs-management-of-infants-born-to-covid-19-mothers/
vii The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Patient Resources; FAQ; Coronavirus (COVID-19); Pregnancy and Breastfeeding; updated November, 2020; retrieved from https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/coronavirus-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding
Yes. “The AAP strongly supports breastfeeding as the best choice for infant feeding.”v Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Breastfed infants are generally less likely to have severe respiratory symptoms if they get sick. Breastfeeding is good for moms, releasing hormones during breastfeeding that promote wellness and can relieve stress and anxiety. Breast milk is readily available, and especially important during emergencies.
“Several published studies have detected SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid in breast milk. It is not yet known whether viable, infectious virus is secreted in breast milk, nor is it yet established whether protective antibody is found in breast milk. Given these uncertainties, breastfeeding is not contraindicated at this time.”v For moms who are infected with COVID-19, breastfeeding directly and pumping breast milk to be fed via bottle by an uninfected caregiver are both options for providing the best nutrition (breast milk) to babies. COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact, mainly through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Therefore, if the person feeding the baby by breast or bottle is COVID+ or has been potentially exposed, he/she should wear a face mask or mouth/nose covering and wash their hands before each feeding, as well as during breast milk pumping and/or any bottle preparation, to reduce the risk of transmission. One should always wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before breastfeeding or expressing breast milk, even if not COVID+. All bottle, breast pump parts and supplies should be cleaned thoroughly following CDC guidelines.
For more information please review resources about COVID-19 and breastfeeding provided by the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. As always, it is important to talk with your doctor and a breastfeeding support professional to weigh the risks and benefits and help determine what is best in an individual situation.
Updated: March 10, 2021
As this pandemic continues, and communities and businesses across the United States are opening and shutting down at different times and to different degrees, you may be wondering about the real risks to resuming activities, running errands, and attending events and gatherings. There is no way to ensure you have zero risk of infection, so it is important to understand the risks and know how to be as safe as possible.
People who are pregnant, and those who live with them, should consider their level of risk before deciding to go out and ensure they are taking steps to protect themselves and others. Consider avoiding activities where taking protective measures may be difficult, such as activities where social distancing can’t be maintained. Everyone should take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 to protect themselves, their communities, and people who are at increased risk of severe illness.
In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.viii
Follow the below guidance to reduce risks of spread. Even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to continue taking the below described steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
• Frequently wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when handwashing is unavailable.
• Clean commonly used surfaces (e.g., cell phones, personal electronic devices, remote controls, countertops, cabinet handles, tables, doorknobs, light switches) regularly with disinfectant (pregnant women should wear gloves or use green (natural, eco-friendly) products with disinfectant agent, or ideally have another household member clean the surface when possible).
• Avoid contact with sick people.
• Avoid interactions with people who might have exposed to or who might be infected with COVID-19.
• Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your coughs (coughing into your elbow).
• If you or your family has not yet received vaccines for Influenza, get vaccinated now.
• Consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine when its available to you. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
• Practice social distancing and staying at home:
o Only go out for essential items.
o Avoid gathering in groups, if possible.
o Keep distance of 6 feet, if you must go out.
o Limit contact with other individuals as much as practicable. • Wear masks or cloth face coverings at work and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). KDHE recommends wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose, mouth and chin and has multiple layers of fabric. Alternatively, a thinner disposable mask may be worn underneath a cloth facemask to improve the fit. Visit Mask Guidance for more information. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 due to risk of suffocation and strangulation. Try to avoid being around others who are not wearing masks.
Symptoms of pregnancy and postpartum related complications should always be communicated to your provider immediately. See this on the importance of staying in communication with your provider regarding concerns with your baby’s well-being during pregnancy. Related to COVID-19 concerns, call right away if you experience a fever of 100.4 or greater, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of pregnancy and postpartum related complications should always be communicated to your provider immediately. See this video on the importance of staying in communication with your provider regarding concerns with your baby’s well-being during pregnancy. Seek medical care immediately if you experience any urgent maternal warning signs and symptoms. These could indicate a potentially life-threatening complication.
Related to COVID-19 and potential associated complications, call right away if you experience:
• Fever of 100.4 or greater
• Shortness of breath
• Difficulty breathing
• Chills, muscle pain or body aches
• Sore throat
• New loss of taste or smell
Nausea or vomiting
• Chest pain or pressure
• Swelling or pain in only one leg
• Sudden severe headache
• Sudden confusion
• Being unable to respond to others
• Blue lips or face
Continuing to see your provider throughout your pregnancy and in the postpartum period is the number one way to ensure that both you and your baby are healthy and doing well. Due to potential complications caused by the virus in the prenatal as well as in the postpartum period, there may be need for additional monitoring and screening for women testing positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy, thus it is extremely important to stay in close contact with your prenatal care provider throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period. Some providers may choose alternative options for routine check-ups for low-risk patients, such as altering the frequency or method of appointments (for example, offering appointments virtually via telehealth). Make sure that your contact information, including phone number and email, are always up-to-date with your healthcare providers so these changes can be communicated to you timely and easily. Getting the recommended vaccines during pregnancy can help protect you and your baby. It’s also a good idea to keep a 30-day supply of medications on hand if possible.i
Updated November 18, 2020
It’s hard to predict exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact your labor and delivery experience, but be prepared for likely changes, such as universal testing for COVID-19 prior to admission and limitations on visitors and/or support persons. In most cases, early discharge in an effort to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection has been found to provide no advantage to the newborn and may place additional burden on the family.vi If you are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, you should notify your prenatal care provider and the facility you will be delivering at, prior to arrival, to assist the healthcare team in making the appropriate infection control preparations.ii While you can expect to be required to wear a mask in the hospital or birth center, it is recommended that pregnant women do not wear a mask while pushing during labor, as this may be difficult. For this reason, your health care team should wear masks or other protective breathing equipment. They also may take other steps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, including wearing goggles or face shields.viii
Although this may cause feelings of being anxious or scared, you can be reassured that there will be helpful support from a labor nurse throughout your labor and deliver experience. Your provider and local birth center staff can keep you up-to-date on changes to normal procedures. Although the COVID-19 pandemic may change the labor and birth experience you planned for, it will continue to be safe, special and memorable in so many ways. If you have questions or concerns about what your birthing experience may look like, ask your provider or birthing center staff to walk you through the restrictions and accommodations. During this conversation you can ask questions about having your support person with you, having your infant stay in your room after birth, breastfeeding, mask-wearing, etc.
As a KanCare beneficiary during your pregnancy, your coverage will extend beyond the typical coverage period of 60-days postpartum, until the end of the month in which the COVID-19 emergency period ends. Make sure that your contact information, including phone number and email, are always up-to-date with your KanCare provider so any changes in your benefits can be communicated to you easily.
Good hygiene (handwashing) and social distancing are the most effective ways to keep your infant safe from communicable diseases such as COVID-19. All caregivers should be reminded to wash hands thoroughly before touching bottles and other feeding supplies, and before feeding or caring for an infant or child. Continuing to follow all public health recommendations, lining up a symptom-free support person to help drop off supplies, and connecting with friends and family virtually (phone, text, FaceTime, social media) will limit the exposure of the virus/disease to you and your family. While screen time is typically not recommended for infants, connecting to loved ones via video chatting such as FaceTime is considered safe in limited amounts.
Ways of keeping your children safe:• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when handwashing is unavailable.• Reduce close contact with others by practicing social distancing. Limit public exposure and avoid unnecessary public contact.• If going out with the child is essential:o Cover the infant carrier (NOT THE INFANT) with a light-weight blanket, which helps protect the baby, but still gives them the ability to breathe comfortably.o Make the trip and time of coverage as brief as possible.o Do not leave the blanket on the carrier in the car or at any time when the baby and carrier are not in direct view by an adult caregiver.o Children only over the age of 2 should wear a mask or cloth face covering. KDHE recommends wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose, mouth and chin and has multiple layers of fabric. Alternatively, a thinner disposable mask may be worn underneath a cloth face mask to improve the fit. Visit KDHE’s Mask Guidance for more information.• Keep your children away from others who are sick and keep them home if they are sick.• Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue or their arm or elbow, not their hands.• Clean commonly used surfaces regularly with disinfectant. Clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., countertops, tables, doorknobs) regularly with disinfectant.• Wash stuffed animals or other plush toys in the warmest water possible, being sure to dry them completely.• Teach children to avoid touching face.• Follow local and state guidance on travel and stay-at-home restrictions.
Yes. It is important to continue with regularly scheduled pediatric appointments and to continue with vaccinations as scheduled. These efforts will help protect your baby/child from other illnesses and will assure your baby/child grows and develops properly. Some providers may choose alternative options for routine check-ups for low-risk patients, such as altering the frequency or method of appointments (for example, offering appointments virtually via telehealth), or providing well-child and sick-child care at different times of the day or in separate spaces. Make sure that your contact information, including phone number and email, are always up-to-date with your healthcare providers so these changes can be communicated to you timely and easily. Make sure to call and notify your baby’s healthcare provider before visiting if you or your baby have COVID-19.
If you have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19, staying in a different room from your baby is the safest way to keep your newborn healthy. A healthy caregiver should take care of the baby and can feed expressed breast milk. You can stop isolating yourself from your baby once you are fever-free without use of fever medicines (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) for at least 24 hours; when your other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving; and when at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms started. If you never had symptoms, you can stop isolating yourself after 10 days have passed since your positive COVID-19 test.i
If you and your family decide to keep your baby in the same room as you, keep a distance of at least 6 feet from your baby when possible. When closer than 6 feet, wear a mask and make sure your hands are clean by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching your newborn, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.i Be sure not to touch the front of the mask, and change out the mask when it is damp.
As always, it is recommended to be in close communication with your health care provider(s) and to follow your provider’s guidance.
Most babies who test positive for COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms. Severe illness in babies appears to be rare. Babies with underlying medical conditions and babies born premature (before 37 weeks) might be at increased risk of severe illness. Reported signs among newborns with COVID-19 include fever, lethargy (being overly tired or inactive), runny nose, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, poor feeding and increased work of breathing or shallow breathing.x Monitor for fever and call your baby’s provider if he/she has a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, even if there are no other symptoms.
If your baby develops symptoms or you think your baby may have been exposed to COVID-19, call your baby’s healthcare provider within 24 hours and follow steps for caring for children with COVID-19.x Symptoms to be aware and ready to report to your provider include:
• How well is your baby feeding?
• How alert is your baby?
• How many wet diapers is your baby having?
• How hard is your baby working at breathing?
• Have you noticed any discoloration of your baby’s lips?
If your baby has COVID-19 emergency warning signs (such as trouble breathing), seek emergency care immediately. Call 911.x
Because the prenatal and postpartum periods are a very vulnerable time in families’ lives, it is important to stay connected with support services in your community. Most resources and support services, such as WIC, home visiting and mental health services, continue to be available. These services may be offered through alternative methods, such as telephonic or virtual options; therefore, it is important to stay informed through local communication (e.g., contacting the service provider/agency, visiting their website, social media, local newspapers, and radio stations) and keeping your contact information up-to-date with all service providers
Safe sleep is an important part of keeping babies healthy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of babies may experience increased stress and fatigue that could affect their ability to ensure that their baby is sleeping safely. Help reduce your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths by doing the following:
• Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times – naps and at night.
• Use a firm, flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a crib covered by a fitted sheet.
• Have the baby share your room but not your bed. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed, cot, air mattress, couch, or chair, whether he or she is sleeping alone, with you, or with anyone else.
• Keep soft bedding, such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys, out of your baby’s sleep area.
• Do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Signs your baby may be getting too hot include sweating or his or her chest feeling hot.
• Don’t smoke or allow anyone to smoke around your baby.i
Learn more about how to reduce the risk of SIDS.
The emergency use authorization does not address the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine for pregnant or lactating women, as limited data are available until further studies and clinical trials with these populations are completed.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend the vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding women if they are a priority population in the vaccine rollout plan. For more information on this guidance, please review the following resources:
• CDC’s Vaccination Considerations for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
• ACOG’s Clinical Guidance on Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19
• CDC’s Guidance on Who Gets Vaccinated First, When Vaccine is Limited
• Kansas COVID-19 Vaccine Plan
• Featured Resources on COVID-19 Vaccines within the CDC’s Toolkit for Pregnant People and New Parents
It is important for you, as a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, to stay informed and talk with your healthcare provider so you can make an informed decision that is best for you and your baby, based on your history, level of risk and likelihood of exposure.
The new guidance is:
People with lab confirmed COVID-19 infections (regardless of vaccination status)
People who are boosted who are Close Contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection. People who are fully vaccinated with Pfizer/Moderna within last 6 months who are Close Contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection. People who are fully vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson within last 2 months who are Close Contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection
People who are fully vaccinated with Pfizer/Moderna over 6 months ago and no booster and are close contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection. People who are fully vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson over 2 months ago and no booster or unvaccinated and are close contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection.
Our Travel-Related Quarantine page provides details on when quarantine is required and how to do it. Quarantine applies to both Kansas residents and visitors, and it begins the day after you arrive in Kansas.
Those under home quarantine should not attend school, work or any setting where a 6-foot distance from other people can’t be maintained. Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.
While at home:• Use a symptoms log to monitor your symptoms for fever, cough or trouble breathing. If symptoms develop, notify your local health department.• If you need to seek medical attention: Call ahead and tell your doctor about recent travel or if you have been otherwise exposed to COVID-19. Wear a facemask to prevent further spread.• Consider wearing a facemask while at home because both asymptomatic and symptomatic people can spread the virus and wearing a facemask may help protect the people you live with.• If possible, separate yourself from other people in your home. Stay in a different room and use a separate bathroom, if available.• Cough or sneeze into the fold of your elbow. Alternatively, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.• Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day, including counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions.
[GCSection revised with link
No. If your travel was only to the airport (for example, a layover), you do not need to follow the quarantine orders. If you left the airport for any period of time, you would be subject to the 14-day quarantine
Traveling increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) cannot tell you whether or not you should cancel your trip; however, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all people postpone or cancel non-essential travel and avoid prolonged exposure to large groups of people. Be aware that individuals who travel outside the United States or to certain states with the U.S., may be expected to quarantine pursuant to requirements above upon arrival in Kansas. Visit Shortened Quarantine Guidance. Anyone who chooses to travel at this time may face travel delays or quarantines when trying to get back into the state and may not be able to return to their daily life immediately upon return.
[GCThis link added and section revised.
Only the individuals who have traveled are required to fulfill the quarantine period. Household members who live with them should practice social distancing from those quarantined individuals but are not quarantined themselves.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is constantly evaluating whether or not other locations need to be added to the list of travel-based quarantines. A variety of factors are used to determine this list, but is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance of community transmission. A formula is used to evaluate new cases over a two-week period, then it is adjusted for population size to provide a case rate per 100,000 population. This provides a number that can then be compared to the rate in Kansas. States with significantly higher rates -- approximately 3x higher -- are added to the list.
Most Kansans can choose to get tested at a free COVID-19 testing site or by using a test kit at home. Some Kansans may also be able to receive tests through their school, workplace, or long-term care facility. A variety of testing options are available:
Kansans can test for COVID-19 using an at-home rapid test kit. There are several ways to get this type of test:
There are two types of diagnostic tests for COVID-19: PCR and antigen.
PCR tests detect the virus's genetic material.
Antigen tests look for the presence of specific proteins found on the surface of the virus.
For more information on types of tests, visit the FDA COVID-19 Testing Basics page.
People who have COVID-19 can spread it to others even if they don’t have symptoms. Anyone who because of their job or social life has contact with the public should consider getting tested periodically, even if you don’t have symptoms or a known exposure. The following people should get tested:
Most Kansans can choose to get tested by their healthcare provider or at a local pharmacy, by visiting a free COVID-19 testing site or by using an at home test kit. Some Kansans may also be able to receive tests through their school, workplace, or long-term care facility.
While you wait for your test results, follow guidance for what to do If You Have or Suspect COVID-19. Isolate yourself from others and monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, seek medical care.
Generally, a negative result means the test did not detect the virus that causes COVID-19. A positive result means the test did detect the virus that causes COVID-19 and you are very likely to have COVID-19. Follow KDHE’s guidance for what to do if you have or suspect you have COVID-19.
Even if you receive a negative result, you should keep practicing preventive measures, such as distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
If you are sick, you should stay home and isolate from others, even if you receive a negative test result. Talk with your health care provider to determine if you should be retested or for advice on managing your symptoms.
Follow KDHE’s guidance for what to do if you have or suspect you have COVID-19.
If you test positive on an at-home rapid antigen test, please note that because these tests are not observed to ensure they were done properly, your local health department or KDHE cannot give you a letter releasing you from work. If your employer requires a letter, you will need to get an antigen or PCR test that is either done by or observed by a healthcare professional.
If you already tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating at home for 5 full days from when your symptoms started, or from when your positive sample was taken if you don't have symptoms, you can test yourself on day 6 if the test you were provided is an antigen test. Do not use a PCR test for this purpose.
If you already know that you are a close contact to someone with COVID-19 while they were contagious and you are in quarantine at home for 5 full days after your last exposure, you can test yourself on day 6.
Since the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on March 18, 2020, most people should not face costs for the COVID-19 test or associated costs.
Under the CARES Act, group health plans and individual insurance must cover COVID-19 testing with no cost-sharing or medical management requirements, “when medically appropriate for the individual, as determined by the individual’s attending healthcare provider.” When providers charge cash up front, it falls to the patient to submit the bill to the health plan for reimbursement.
Under the CARES Act, comprehensive private health insurance plans must reimburse a test provider based on the rate negotiated between the plan and the provider (i.e., the in-network rate) that was put in place prior to this emergency.
If there is no negotiated rate between the plan and provider (i.e., the provider is out-of-network), the plan pays the provider based on the provider’s own “cash price” (or a lower price if the plan can negotiate one). This “cash price” must be posted online while there is a declared public health emergency. Providers that fail to make their price public could face a civil monetary penalty of up to $300/day.
Congress earmarked dollars within provider relief funds for testing and treatment for uninsured and created new Medicaid COVID-19 testing eligibility group that can be implemented as state option; states receive a 100 percent funding match. The new Medicaid eligibility category covers diagnostic testing, testing-related services, antibody tests; however, Kansas did not adopt this new eligibility criteria.
Yes, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) relief fund contains $2 billion for provider reimbursement for COVID-19 testing of uninsured individuals. Providers are able to submit claims through a portal managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in order to receive reimbursement equal to Medicare rates
Federal guidance released June 23, 2020, clarified that group health plans and individual insurance coverage are not required to reimburse testing costs for public health surveillance or employment purposes.
This is unclear. For example, what about the individual who has had a contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 – does that meet the standard of medically appropriate? Should testing for this person be part of a state’s public health contact tracing and testing, which is outside the scope of health insurance coverage? Who will pay for tests? Is it the direct responsibility of individual employers or can federal funds allocated to states for their public health efforts be used for employment testing?
Although there is not clear consensus on who should be paying for workplace screening for employees not deemed “essential," most legal and policy experts suggest that employers or the federal government are responsible for providing workplace screening tests. Learn more from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Kansans should be aware there may be bad actors looking to take advantage of people during the pandemic. If you experience healthcare-related price gouging, unexpected costs or something just doesn’t sound right with your costs or billing, please call the Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Division at 800-432-2484 or file a complaint on their website or by email.
In 2020, the Governor announced the first phase of a Unified Testing Strategy to significantly expand and better coordinate COVID-19 testing across the state. This was due to the critical need for testing and the lack of public health capacity (both at the CDC & at KDHE).
The Unified Testing Strategy asked commercial and university labs to help the State double the amount of testing in Kansas by the end of 2020. With federal funds dedicated to the effort at that time, the State met its testing goal, providing more than two million tests to Kansans by January 2021. The State of Kansas is grateful for the partnerships that we formed with the commercial and university labs.
However, once COVID-19 vaccines were approved for emergency use by the FDA, testing rates in Kansas – and across the country – began to decline. Testing rates flattened during the spring and early summer of 2021 across the US. KDHE’s budget for testing was calculated assuming these lower testing rates in the State after the winter surge.
With emergence of the Delta variant in 2021, testing rates rose significantly By July, Delta became the dominant variant accounting for more than 90% of new COVID cases in Kansas. Statewide tests increased from an average of under 2,000 tests per day in June to an average of nearly 20,000 per day in September.
Kansas state-funded testing also increased from an average of nearly 800 tests per day in June to an average of nearly 5,000 tests per day in September. The monthly cost of the state-funded testing program grew from approximately $4M in June to approximately $16M in September. This drained the state’s testing budget. Without changes to the testing program, KDHE would have depleted all available funds for testing well before the end of 2021.
Widespread COVID-19 vaccination will prevent serious illness and death, but the virus is expected to continue to circulate in the population, not unlike the flu. It will be a shared responsibility to protect ourselves and our communities against its spread, which means testing will remain a critical tool to identify the virus.
Testing will also become an increasingly important way in which those who choose to remain unvaccinated may still be able to work, attend events, and travel. More businesses and employers are requiring proof of vaccination or demonstration of a negative COVID-19 test.
Given this increased and ongoing need for testing, funding for testing is no longer sustainable by public health alone. This will mean individuals, employers, and health insurers are going to be increasingly asked to pay for COVID-19 testing, as they would with testing for any other communicable disease.
KDHE has identified six actions to transition to lower cost testing options and is just beginning outreach to stakeholders and labs to provide guidance and ensure a smooth transition.
Yes, as COVID-19 testing becomes an increasingly normal part of our routine, funding for testing should be like any other kind of testing – paid for predominantly through health insurance or via employers1. The next phase of the unified testing strategy will require KDHE to reduce its costs for testing.
KDHE is committed to working with our community partners – to include commercial and university labs, businesses, and health plans – to prepare for the next phase of the pandemic.
1. EEOC guidance strongly suggests that the ADA requires employers to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing. The EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance on Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the ADA provides that an employer must pay for all medical-exam related costs when an employer requires the examination because the employer reasonably believes the employee poses a “direct threat.” According to the EEOC, “COVID-19 poses a direct threat.” Therefore, the ADA would require an employer to cover the costs of diagnostic testing related to keeping that direct threat out of the workplace.
KDHE is working with various stakeholders to implement immediate changes to the testing program over the month of November, while ensuring a smooth ramp down and transition of the employer testing program by the end of Q1 2022.
KDHE remains committed to supporting access to testing for all Kansans. Kansans can access a full list of sites offering free testing at http://www.knowbeforeyougoks.com
Free testing will continue to be available via the options listed below, based on need and the availability of state and federal funding:
In addition to KDHE free testing sites, Kansans can receive free testing at pharmacies and retailers that are part of the federal Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) program.
Other options for testing include pharmacies, primary care provider clinics, and FQHCs, noting some may require insurance. Individuals can also purchase over the counter tests at many retail grocery stores and pharmacies across Kansas.
KHEL has increased its testing capacity to handle additional volume. KHEL can comfortably handle 4,000 tests per day and during surges can quickly ramp up operations to support up to 7,500 tests per day.
KDHE will continue to monitor COVID-19 disease prevalence by identifying and tracking COVID-19 disease activity in communities, testing for COVID-19 variants, and maintaining a wastewater surveillance program.
KDHE will maintain constant engagement with commercial and academic lab partners to support knowledge transfer, surge capacity efforts, and the development of new types of tests.
Find FAQs specific to the type of testing program.
Mass testing sites will continue to offer free COVID-19 PCR tests to Kansans in Johnson, Wyandotte, Douglas, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Riley counties.
KDHE is transitioning the operation of mass testing sites to the Kansas state lab (KHEL). The transition will allow KDHE to administer and process tests at a significantly lower cost.
To find a free testing site, go to KnowBeforeYouGoKS.com.
While nine mass testing sites will remain open, eight low volume mass testing sites have been closed during the transition. The mass testing sites remaining open are responsible for 85% of the mass testing volume across the state.
In order to serve Kansas testing needs efficiently, KDHE will work with local health departments and other community partners to ensure that free testing is available to support communities where a mass testing site has been closed.
KDHE mass testing sites will not offer appointments at this time. In addition, operating hours have changed at most sites. For current testing site locations and operating hours, more information is available at KnowBeforeYouGoKS.com.
KDHE mass testing sites are currently offering PCR tests. KDHE is exploring the option of adding antigen testing in the near future.
KDHE has already opened several mass testing sites and will operate all planned mass testing sites by the end of November 2021.
Effective 11/30/2021, KDHE will no longer pay for testing done at LTCFs through commercial labs. However, LTCFs will be able to provide regular free screening testing for residents, staff, and visitors through the HHS Regional Testing Midwest Coordination Center operated by Battelle.
KDHE will continue to work with LTCFs and other facilities to provide testing through the state lab in response to outbreaks that occur in the facility.
All state and federally regulated LTCFs will need to identify another source of testing or funding to cover the costs of testing their staff and residents, or they will need to begin billing insurance for testing they provide. At this time, the federal government remains committed to providing rapid, point of care test kits to federally regulated facilities.
No, LTCFs do not need to end their existing partnership with their commercial testing lab. LTCFs may want to consider:
LTCFs may choose one or all of the above options to provide both screening and diagnostic testing for residents and staff.
In addition, KDHE has prepared an Employer Testing Playbook and a list of resources that may be helpful. You may also be aware of or have access to additional options.
More information about the Battelle Midwest Coordination Center is available on the KDHE website or by reaching out to Maleah Slaughter at [email protected].
KDHE will continue to work with LTCFs to provide testing through the state lab in response to outbreaks that occur in the facility.
These changes are effective as of 11/30/2021.
Testing at K-12 schools will not be impacted by these changes. KDHE will continue to offer free testing to students and staff in schools districts that are interested in standing up a testing program. We are carefully monitoring federal funding for K-12 funding.
Effective 11/29/2021, the KDHE CTP Program sites will transition to rapid antigen testing, as supplies are available. Free rapid antigen tests will continue to be offered to CTPs for their clients. To find a free testing site near you, go to KnowBeforeYouGoKS.com.
KDHE will discontinue paying the $30 collection fee for PCR testing and will no longer cover the costs of PCR tests processed by lab partners as of 11/29/2021. However, KDHE will continue to offer the $30 collection fee for BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests and continue to supply rapid antigen tests free of cost to CTPs.
No, KDHE encourages CTPs to continue working with lab vendors to provide testing in the community. However, if CTPs continue working with contract labs, CTPs will need to bill insurance for the collection fee or find alternative funding sources to cover the cost of specimen collections. CTPs should verify that their lab vendor is contracted with insurers and able to bill for specimen processing.
CTPs can offer PCR testing outside of the CTP program and can continue partnering with labs to offer PCR testing. CTPs will need to bill insurance for the specimen collection fee and work with the testing lab to modify contracts to include insurance billing to cover the cost of test processing.
Individuals can access PCR tests at a variety of locations. Individuals can seek PCR testing at mass testing sites, healthcare provider clinics, pharmacies, LHDs, and FQHCs.
Antigen tests are very accurate for symptomatic individuals or individuals who are a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Antigen tests are also an effective option to rapidly identify if an individual is currently infectious and can spread COVID-19 to others.
Confirmatory testing is not always required after a positive antigen test. The CDC recommends confirmatory testing after an antigen test in the following situations only:
For more information, please refer to the guidance from the CDC (CDC guidance).
The CTP team at KDHE can support those organizations choosing to transition from PCR testing to using antigen tests.
CTPs will need to obtain a CLIA certification or add antigen tests to their existing certification. They will also need to set up a LabXchange account. All test results (positive and negative) will need to be submitted through LabXchange at the time the test is resulted. Only the tests with results submitted to LabXchange will be eligible for reimbursement through the CTP Program.
Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
These changes are effective as of 11/29/2021. This allow time for the lab vendors to receive and process the PCR tests before funding is discontinued.
CTPs with unused PCR kits should work with lab partners to determine how to return their unused test kits.
Effective 11/12/2021, the Volunteer Testing Program will no longer be offering free PCR Saliva Tests to VTPs. However, KDHE will continue offering free rapid antigen tests through VTPs, which include BinaxNOW PRO (onsite) and BinaxNOW over the counter (at-home) test kits, as available.
VTPs should refrain from administering the PCR Saliva Tests after 11/12/2021. Administering a PCR Saliva Test after 11/12/2021 may result in the patient being billed for the test.
For more information, please refer to the guidance from the CDC (CDC guidance)
These changes are effective as of 11:59 pm 11/12/2021.
KDHE will reach out to VTPs with specific instructions for returning unused test kits to Clinical Reference Lab (CRL). Opened test kits may be discarded in household garbage.
Effective 11/29/2021, KDHE will no longer fund the cost of tests that are processed by commercial or university labs for LHDs. However, KDHE will continue to process PCR tests free of cost through KHEL. To receive free testing, LHDs will need to request QuikSal test kits and/or other supplies from KHEL and ship tests to KHEL for processing. KHEL can also process NP and OP collections if these methods are utilized. A courier must be arranged to pick up samples directly from the pick-up location determined between KDHE and the LHD.
If LHDs are currently working with MAWD, WSU, CRL, Quest, or Sinochips to process COVID-19 PCR tests, KDHE will no longer pay for tests collected by LHDs and sent to a commercial or university lab after 11:59 pm 11/28/2021. LHDs can continue to send tests for processing through lab vendors but will need to arrange for third party payer billing to cover the cost. KHEL is able to process your tests at no cost when LHDs use QuikSal and ship samples to KHEL for processing. KHEL can also process NP and OP collections if these methods are utilized.
Yes, LHDs that wish to continue working with lab vendors will need to work with their existing testing lab to modify their contract to include insurance billing by the lab.
LHDs can use this link to order testing supplies from KHEL. All supplies are free to LHDs. Tests can be transported to KHEL through the existing courier stop for the county.
These changes are effective as of 11/29/2021.
KDHE will continue employer testing for those previously enrolled in the employer testing program, supporting testing for up to 10% of employees every two weeks through March 2022. KDHE is working with state and federal bodies to secure funding to support this program through March 2022, at which point it will be phased out. Any changes to this timeline will be communicated as clearly and early as possible.
KDHE will no longer fund the cost of screening or diagnostic tests that are processed by commercial or university labs for employers not previously enrolled in KDHE’s testing program.
Employers not previously enrolled in KDHE’s employer testing program will be responsible for covering the costs of their testing programs. Employers who were testing more than 10% of their workforce more than every two weeks will also be responsible for covering the cost of testing in excess of the program allowances.
In addition, as of April 1, 2022, all employers, including those previously enrolled in KDHE’s employer testing program, will be responsible for covering the costs of their testing programs.
As of April 2022, employers wishing to process tests through commercial or university labs will need to cover the cost of testing or make sure the lab is set up to bill third party payers. Alternatively, employers can purchase point-of-care testing equipment from manufacturers to stand up an on-site testing program.
Note this program does not meet the testing requirements of the new OSHA mandate regarding COVID testing for employers with >100 employees coming into effect in January.
KDHE has created an Employer Testing Playbook to support all businesses that wish to offer employee testing to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in their workplace and help keep their businesses open.