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January 22nd, 2022

whitaker county commissionSouthwest Medical Center President and CEO Robert Whitaker talks to Seward County commissioner about preventative measures being taken at the local hospital concerning the coronavirus situation. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Seward County commissioners received the latest updates on local happenings with the COVID-19 virus Monday.

Emergency Management Director Greg Standard said while there are currently no cases in Seward County, four other Kansas counties do have cases, with a total of 11 confirmed cases in the state, including one in Ford County and one death in Northeast Kansas.

Standard said locally, Southwest Medical Center has the ability to collect samples for testing of the coronavirus.

“We have the ability to test people here in Seward County, and they needn’t be concerned that’s not there,” he said. “The test kits are available to get this done.”

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, and Standard said people should take similar precautions to those with other respiratory illnesses.

“Wash your hands often with soap and water,” he said. “It is a misconception that hand sanitizer is a better method or better means to sanitize your hands. It is less effective than soap and water, whenever possible, that’s what you should use. Do not touch your face or mouth without washing hands first. Wash your hands after covering your cough, sneezing or blowing your nose. Stay home if you are ill or have a fever, and drink plenty of water. Avoid close contact with others, which means being within six feet of another person for longer than 10 minutes. Walking past someone on the street is not an exposure. There’s no science that indicates you can get the disease in that manner.”

ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Stevens County officials have said as of Tuesday, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in that county.

Stevens County Public Information Officer Susan Schulte said in a press release, commissioners in Stevens County met with multiple agencies Tuesday to discuss necessary actions to protect the health, safety and well-being of all Stevens County residents.

Taking into consideration the Centers for Disease Control and Kansas Department of Health and Environment recommendations, Schulte said the following decisions were made:

1. The Stevens County Courthouse will be closed to the public, except appointment made by phone, until 8 a.m. on April 2. Department phone numbers will be posted by Stevens County Clerk and can be found on the county Web site,, contacts page. 

2. The Stevens County Wellness Center will be closed until 6 a.m. on April 2. 

all day kindergarten fileStudents work on an activity during school. Tuesday saw the announcement from Gov. Laura Kelly that all K-12 school buildings will be closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year due to concerns with the coronavirus situation. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


After much consideration and discussion, the state of Kansas announced Tuesday all K-12 school buildings will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly made the announcement in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, and further information was available in a statement from the Kansas Department of Education.

“Unprecedented circumstances that threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day require swift, thoughtful and coordinated action. Gov. Laura Kelly announced school buildings across the state must be closed for the duration of this school year for the purpose of general student and staff attendance. However, learning will continue for Kansas students,” the statement noted. “A 25-member task force comprised of many of the state’s top educators in Kansas continues working to develop plans for Continuous Learning. The task force will deliver their recommendations to Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson by Wednesday evening. Kansas education is among the finest in the country. Closing classrooms and moving to a Continuous Learning plan can’t begin to replicate our state’s education structure as we know it, but it can help ensure strategies that will provide a bridge back to the world-class learning our students benefit from today.”

southern pioneer logoSpecial to the Leader & Times


Southern Pioneer Electric’s concern for community extends to the health and welfare of each and every customer. Amid growing global concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Southern Pioneer Electric’s open house event, originally scheduled for March 27, has been postponed.

The decision was agreed upon by the senior staff of Southern Pioneer Electric in order to abide by the CDC’s recommendations on mitigating the spread of COVID-19. At this time, there is not an established date for the event.

“The safety and well-being of employees and our communities is at the forefront of all that we do,” said Anita Wendt, VP of Energy Services. “Our hope is to be proactive and to help do our part in mitigating any potential risk. We are proud to service communities across southern Kansas and thank our consumers for their understanding.”

L&T staff report


Due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus, the trout derby scheduled for Saturday at Meade State Park will be postponed to a later date. 

This decision came after careful consideration and communication with Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism management. The safety of our park visitors and trout derby participants is our number one priority. 

The park remains open to all other outdoor recreational activities. 

To stay up to date on all information, you can follow our Facebook page at /MeadeStatePark or visit our website

For refund information, questions and other concerns, you may call the office at (620) 873-2572.

ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Kansas 26th Judicial District Chief Judge Brad Ambrosier issued an administrative order Monday regarding court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order stated due to the significant risk of severe public health consequences and due to the recommendations from local public health authorities, effective Monday, the following are ordered:

1. The 26th Judicial District Court will remain open. The staff in the clerk’s office will remain open for filings, including contact by phone.

2. Electronic filings may still be made through the electronic filing system.

3. All jury trials, civil and criminal, scheduled through May 1 are continued pending further order of the court.

4. All non-jury court proceedings scheduled for an in-court appearance through May 1 may be continued by the presiding judge.

city coronavirus meetingThe Liberal City Commission and other city staff talk about the city’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. While there are no cases reported in Seward County, city staff wants to have plans in place should the outbreak become worse. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


After recent developments with the coronavirus, local entities have been meeting to discuss their responses to the situation. 

The Liberal City Commission met Monday morning for a special meeting to discuss a response on the city’s part. 

“To start off, we do have 14 employees who traveled out of state and they did stay home today per what was discussed with the county Sunday night at its meeting,” Liberal City Clerk Alicia Hidalgo said. “We talked to the Seward County Health Department, and they said everyone except one can return to work tomorrow, and they suggested that one employee stay home for 14 days, so they were notified and will stay home for 14 days in quarantine per regulations. For the other employees, if they start to show or feel any symptoms, they are to report to the health department right away, and then they will go home and self-quarantine for 14 days, and that goes for their families as well. The symptoms include dry cough, fever and a few others, so that’s what people need to monitor. We also have gotten some questions about a basketball tournament that was scheduled to take place this next weekend, so do we want to go ahead and cancel that? Because that will be more than 50 people.”

“I think so. If they’re cancelling everything else, we might as well go ahead and pull the plug on that,” Commissioner Ron Warren said. 

“I would go maybe slightly further and say until rescinded by the commission, all events exceeding a certain amount of people - according to CDC guidelines -are cancelled because I don’t foresee any of that getting changed in the near future,” City Attorney Lynn Koehn said, which the commission ultimately approved. 

ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 Some reports have been speculating a case of the coronavirus exists in Texas County, Okla., but officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health say those reports are not true.

OSDH District Nurse Manager Lynette Terry said this morning, she is not sure where the information about Texas County came from, but she said it is not correct at this time.

Terry said there is no confirmations of coronavirus in Texas County at this time, and there is nothing to indicate a positive case exists there.

eoc locationThe Professional Building located at 1411 W. 15th will serve as the Emergency Operation Center for Seward County during the coronavirus pandemic. As of today, there were no cases of the virus in Seward County. L&T file photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


A short series of local emergency meetings has taken place within the last week, the first of which took place Friday night with the Seward County Commission and health care workers discussing the possibility of shutting down some scheduled events due to the possible spread of the Coronavirus.

Commission Chairman Nathan McCaffrey said Friday’s meeting was called by Administrator April Warden, who joined the meeting via telephone, to see what should be done after the Kansas State Board of Education put a mandate on events with 100 or more people involved. Later, school were closed across Kansas for a week.

“There was a meeting earlier this afternoon which precipitated this,” he said Friday. “The meeting involved personnel from the county, especially the health department, emergency management services and Southwest Medical Center and USD 480,” he said. “A portion of that meeting centered around large crowd events in our community and how we want to handle that, which has led us here to this point.”

Warden then ran through the events which have been scheduled through the next month at the Seward County Activity Center and Ag Building. Some of those events include an enrollment for the Head Start and Bright Start programs scheduled for today and Wednesday, ‘That’ Liberal Band’s Fish Fry scheduled for March 27, several quinceaneras, Memorial Library’s Children’s Healthy Fun Fair on April 4, and a concert featuring the Josh Abbott Band on April 11.

The commission would opt eventually to call off all events at the Activity Center and Ag Building through April 11, but Warden also went through others scheduled for later next month, including extreme midget wrestling and a Liberal High School After Prom event, both set for April 18, Seward County’s own County Government Days April 21-22 and the LHS academic awards on April 27.

coronavirus in kansas graphicEARL WATT • Leader & Times


There have been 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and only one of them is in Western Kansas.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there are 10 cases in Johnson County, one in Wyandotte County, one in Butler County and one in Franklin County and one in Ford County.

Southwest Medical Center CEO Robert Whitaker confirmed there have been no verified cases in Seward County.

“There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Seward County,” he said. 

The goal of the recent closures and restricted movement around the nation and in Seward County are intended to insure that health care facilities are not overwhelmed with patients.

Southwest Medical Center has 101 beds, and they are intended for those with the highest risk to life.

Whitaker said anyone who develops a cough or other flu-like symptoms should not immediately seek hospitalization without seeking their primary doctor’s advice first.

“They should seek care from their normal care provider,” Whitaker said. “We are there to help those physicians for the care of their patients.”

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