By Blake Spurney
Health Department Director Lynnette Redington told the Board of Harvey County Commissioners on Tuesday that active COVID-19 cases in the county were still over 800.
Redington said 91 cases had been reported in the county since Monday night, bringing the total to 837. She said the two-week positivity rate was at 22.5 percent. Eight deaths related to COVID-19 were reported last week, which increased the county’s total to 106 since the pandemic started.
Redington said the health department was focusing on cases involving those who were younger than 18 and older than 60. She said she couldn’t stress how much staff at long-term care facilities were currently “stretched” based on the number of cases affecting residents and staff. She said some of the facilities were looking into further restrictions due to staff shortages.
Redington said the Kansas Department and Health and Environment would be handling 50 cases a day for the county, starting next Monday. She said KDHE would be sending text messages to some people who were infected if it was unable to make telephone calls to those younger than 18 and older than 65.
Redington reminded adults to stay in isolation for five days after showing symptoms and getting a confirmation of a positive test result.
Commission Chairman Don Schroeder asked Redington about reports he heard saying that cloth masks might not be as effective with the more contagious Omicron variant.
Redington said she was still waiting for results on the research for that. She said any mask was better than no mask at all.
Schroeder said the county had no mask mandate, and he asked residents to be thoughtful and respectful of others.
In other business, commissioners:
•approved the sale of hangar W at the Newton City-County Airport to Avcon Industries Inc. for $1.2 million. The sale, if also approved by the Newton City Commission, would allow both governments to pay off the bonds in March. They originally were not scheduled to be paid off until 2033. County Administrator Swartzendruber said the county would save $300,000 in interest over the life of the bonds. The city and county will continue to own the ground on which the hangar sits, and both will receive lease payments.
•approved paying weekly bills totaling $194,402.10. Commissioner Randy Hague said he noticed that the county had another bill for temporary services for a judge. He said he agreed with what George “Chip” Westfall said the previous week about seeing whether that should be a county or state expense. Swartzendruber said the county had a contractual responsibility to pay for such services under state statute.
•went into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss matters covered by attorney-client privilege.