Cowley County Health Officer concerned about COVID-19 spread in Kay County

March 24, 2020 | Featured|Headlines


Jordan Green Blackwell Journal Tribune – contributed to the story

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. — As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbs in Oklahoma and Kay County, Cowley County Public Health Officer, Tom Langer said he is concerned about the possible spread of COVID-19 between Kay and Cowley counties.

“We love you guys but we don’t want the spread,” said Langer. “We are considering what we can do to curtail that spread. My biggest concern is the health of Cowley County residents.”

Today the number of confirmed cases in the state of Oklahoma climbed from 81 to 106. The number of cases in Kay County stands at five and Cowley County, zero.

Langer would like to see those numbers stay put but is concerned about people who are not taking the Coronavirus crisis serious and continue to get out and about.

“I’m begging, if you don’t have to go somewhere, let’s turn down the unnecessary travel. I don’t want someone to bring it here much like I don’t want someone to take something down there. Our populations mix back and forth like that. I don’t want this to come up and infect the community. I don’t want anyone of us to be sick at all.”

Langer said that he is mindful of those who travel to work in the adjourning communities. 

“I’m mindful that we have people in both counties that work in the other. Those people coming back and fourth to work are not my greatest concern. The fact that schools are out, I have a very mobile population who may consider themselves immune to the situation such as teenagers and are out running around.”

Langer said he is looking at everything that can be done to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. On March 12 he issued an isolation order for Cowley County residents. (see story)

“I have already issued an order that restricts the movements of residents. In reality I could ask them to isolate for 14 days if they have been in Kay County. I do not have the authority to issue something on an Oklahoma resident.”

Langer said determinations made by the Oklahoma State Department of Health plays a part in the many things he considers to do everyday.

“The bottom line is that this is a concern and I want us to come out of this quickly. We can only do this if it is taken seriously. My job is to find a black and white spotted horse in a field of Zebras, and for me to do that I need to get the Zebras off the street. I want life to go on as we can but we have to make a few changes. Come on if you don’t have to go out – stay home.”

Langer was asked if Cowley residents should come down to the mobile testing site being set up in Ponca City for Coronavirus testing.

“I don’t know what OSDH criteria would be,” said Langer. If they did test positive in Oklahoma, OSDH would contact Kansas and I would be the last person to know. We are experiencing something in our lifetime that is extraordinary. We are looking at something that we as population have no immunity for it, no medicines to combat and we are back to what we have done 100 years ago and back then you stayed home. Today we are a mobile society. People have such great freedom of movement and they take it for granted. I’m begging people to please to change their behavior just a little bit and show me that you care about your neighbors and families on both sides of the border. I certainly don’t want one person to die in these counties from this illness.”