After weeks of declines, COVID cases increase

By Adam Strunk

The Harvey County Health Department is making its way through its vaccine wait list, but don’t expect it to move on to another phase of people, just yet.

Director Lynnette Redington said during a press conference on Tuesday that the county’s phase two wait list – mostly people 65 years or older was down to 1,400. She said, however, that the number was likely lower as the county was finding many on the list had already gotten vaccinated elsewhere. Redington credited federal vaccination programs for helping decrease some of the county’s burden.
The county is projected to receive 800 first dose and 600 second dose vaccines, this week.

Redington said the county will be working to getting higher education teachers, maintenance workers and food services workers vaccinated, as well.

Redington said that the state has made it clear to county health departments, however, that they are not to move forward with vaccinating other groups until the state gives the go-ahead to do so. The state previously projected phase 2 to last until April.

Redington said that if counties have reached a high enough percentage of people in a certain group, the state would then allocate vaccines to counties that hadn’t hit such a high percentage before moving forward.

On top of that, Redington said Hesston Pharmacy received large amounts of vaccine from the federal government to help vaccinate the AGCO and EXCEL Employees and that Health Ministries was also running a clinic on Friday and people could schedule appointments through Health Ministries.

The county health department itself has vaccinated 3,665 doses as of March 8.

As for sicknesses, after regular downward trends active cases jumped up to 74 this week in the county.  The county saw 61 new infections. The jump was in part triggered by a mass outbreak at AGCO in Hesston, which resulted in residents in four counties contracting COVID-19. Seventeen of those with the disease are from Harvey County.

Redington said schools having more in-person attendance has driven some of the increases, along with the spread within families that follows a COVID-19 infection.

The Kansas Senate recently passed a bill 26-12 that would force all Kansas Public Schools to have in-person classes by March 26. Local Sen. Carolyn McGinn voted in favor of the action.

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