TOPEKA, Kan. — For months the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) has worked to get assistance out to the people of Kansas. Representatives from the division say their work isn’t done yet.
At KDEM, people have been working nearly non-stop to get essential supplies and help out to the counties. According to the division, 7,000 cases of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been distributed to counties in the last month alone. That’s more than 3 million pieces of PPE, like masks and gowns. The supplies are distributed based on the need in each county.
The Kansas National Guard originally deployed 650 guardsmen to assist with delivering supplies. Because enough PPE is now available, there is not an urgent need for delivery, therefore some of those guardsmen have been called back and deliveries are now made via the mail.
“We’ve got enough PPE in the field that we can not deliver as an urgent, we can do it as a more normal business model,” explained Jeffrey Welshans, the Emergency Operations Center Manager with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
The remaining deployed guardsmen are assisting with testing in areas of outbreak across the state; the focus is mainly on the meat-packing plants, prisons and adult care facilities. The Kansas National Guard has tested more than 15,000 people for the coronavirus.
KDEM, along with other state agencies, is also providing Kansans with a safe place to stay during the pandemic.
“We’re running ten non-congregate shelter throughout the state,” said Welshans. “Supporting people who are either sick and don’t want to expose family members or roommates, or people who have been exposed and want to remove themselves from that environment to protect their family.”
Additionally, the Kansas National Guard is packaging 3 million meals to be distributed to local food banks for Kansans in need.
Welshans adds that the work the state is doing is in close partnership with the counties.
“We call the counties every day, we have two conferences with the counties,” explained Welshans. “One with all of the state agency partners and the counties and one with just the county emergency managers and the health departments. We work together to problem solve as a state.”