Kay County responds to Coronavirus outbreak

March 18, 2020

Two Kay County residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, and local officials are responding by shutting down government offices and encouraging citizens to stay home and practice proper hygiene.

Officials confirmed Sunday that a Ponca City resident tested positive for the virus, which has been designated as a national emergency by President Donald Trump and called a global pandemic by the World Health Organization

AllianceHealth Ponca City, the operator of the city’s hospital, said the individual is under quarantine at home. No other information was available as of press time.

A second Kay County case was confirmed Tuesday.

Local officials have signed emergency disaster proclamations and implemented other measures in response to the spread of the virus.


Blackwell City Manager Janet Smith signed a disaster emergency proclamation Monday that allows the city to receive aid, relief and assistance needed to combat the coronavirus. By her order, the city will implement its emergency operations plan in conjunction with Kay County’s emergency plan.

Blackwell Fire Chief Cory Hanebrink has been designated as the city’s emergency manager.

City officials are asking those who call 9-1-1 for medical emergencies to inform dispatchers of any flu-like symptoms they may have. Some symptoms of the coronavirus, including coughing, shortness of breath, and fever, may be confused with symptoms of the flu.

“In an effort to protect our firefighters and paramedics, we ask that, if you call 9-1-1 for any reason, please let the 9-1-1 call-taker know if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” a fire department official wrote on the agency’s Facebook page.

City Hall remains open to the public, but officials are asking those who can do business with the city online to do so instead.

City officials are asking residents to pay utility bills online. The city is waiving the $1.25 online convenience fee for bill payment. To pay bills online, visit http://cityofblackwellok.com. Click the “Pay Bill” icon, which is found under the “Residents” tab.

The city’s payment drop-box, located in the alley behind City Hall, may be used to drop off checks and other forms “physical” payments, city officials said in a statement.

The Blackwell City Council’s Thursday meeting will go on as planned, but city officials ask that residents watch the meeting’s live-stream on Facebook instead of attending the meeting in-person.


Newkirk Mayor Brian Hobbs said Sunday that the city of Newkirk will suspend all non-essential travel by city employees. City Hall will be closed to the public, and citizens who need to pay utility bills may leave their payments in the drop-box in front of City Hall.
“These actions are not meant to alarm our citizens,” Hobbs said in a statement on his Facebook page. “After the discussions I have had about possible infection rates, mortality rates, as well as diminished lung capacity, I feel it would be irresponsible to put our citizens at risk unnecessarily. This virus seems to be more dangerous than initially thought. I am asking our community to help in this effort to minimize our risks. I would ask all who are operating in public to use common sense in regards to breathing, coughing, etc. If you show symptoms, please stay home and limit exposure to others.”


Ponca City Mayor Homer Nicholson signed a disaster emergency proclamation Sunday evening in response to the potential spread of the coronavirus in Ponca City.

“We feel it is better to be over prepared, rather than underprepared, for the safety and security of our citizens in order to minimize exposure,” he said in a statement. “City staff will continue to be in contact with appropriate agencies in light of this decision.”

Nicholson encouraged residents to clean their hands frequently using alcohol-based hand sanitizers or soap and water. He also asked citizens to cover coughs and sneezes, and to avoid contact with individuals who have fevers and coughs.


Kay County Commissioners voted Monday to declare a State of Emergency for Kay County.

Under the declaration signed by commissioners, the Kay County Courthouse will remain closed until further notice, but county employees will remain at work. Those who have business at the courthouse may contact courthouse employees via phone.

For courthouse contact information, visit the county's official website at  https://www.courthouse.kay.ok.us/.

Those needing to make payments to the county treasurer, court clerk, or district attorney's supervision office can make payments through the mail and through the county's online payment system.

The Kay County Detention Facility's lobby was closed today and will remain closed. In-person inmate visitation is cancelled, but those needing to visit inmates may do so via phone, text or video.

Kay County Treasurer Christy Kennedy said her office will work with residents who need to pay their taxes while the courthouse is closed.

“We will be here to offer any help we can to folks who would normally come into the office to make their tax payment,” she said in a statement. “Our first thought is to alleviate any additional anxiety this may cause taxpayers.”

Taxpayers may mail tax payments to the county treasurer's office at 201 S. Main Street in Newkirk. They may also use the county's official website to make payments.

“I understand that there will be taxpayers that are not comfortable with these options,” Kennedy said. “If you feel you need to contact our office by phone or email to guide you through other options, we will make sure to provide you with the service you need.”

The phone number for the treasurer's office is 580-362-2523. The treasurer's email is  ckennedy@courthouse.kay.ok.us. Taxpayers may also contact Kennedy on her personal cell phone at 580-761-4115.


The Kay County Health Department is working with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to identify anyone who made contact the Kay County coronavirus patient. The agencies are providing guidance to individuals who need to be tested for the coronavirus.

The state’s COVID-19 hotline is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Those with questions regarding COVID-19 are encouraged to call 877-215-8336.

Health officials are asking residents to wash their hands frequently, stay home when sick, clean and disinfect their homes and property, and cover coughs and sneezes.

“Community-based interventions can help slow the spread of COVID-19,” a department spokesperson said. “This includes social distancing measures, such as avoiding close contact with people who are sick and putting distance between yourself and other people.

“If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, you are asked to contact your health care provider to receive instructions for care. Please do not go to the emergency room unless essential.”

For more information on the coronavirus, visit https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov.