NEWTON – Health Department Director Lynnette Redington told the Board of Harvey County Commissioners on Tuesday that more than 500 cases of COVID-19 turned up in the county last week.
Redington said nearly 300 cases were reported between Saturday and Monday, and an additional 143 were reported Tuesday morning. She said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced that it would not longer be doing contact tracing. She said the state’s position that it was an individual’s responsibility to tell others with whom they had contact after testing positive.
Redington thanked Newton Police Department for helping with traffic flow Friday when 1,000 home testing kits were handed out in a 90-minute span at Chisholm Trail Center.
“My understanding it had gone much smoother than other distributions of kits,” she said.
Commissioner George “Chip” Westfall said he understood about half of the testing kits went to Sedgwick County residents and that he heard from local residents who were upset.
Redington said the health department and Health Ministries Clinic didn’t check license plates when handing them out. She said the over-the-counter tests were scarce and that she expected Health Ministries Clinic or another entity to obtain more.
County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber said the county had 825 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. He said that previous to the recent spike the highest number of cases in the county at any time was about 500.
Redington said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented new guidelines for schools last Thursday.
Commissioners approved a proclamation of a state of local disaster emergency on Tuesday. Bryan Ellis, with emergency management, said having the declaration in place would give the county access to any resources that might be needed in support of its COVID-19 response, such as personal protective equipment or test kits.
In other business, commissioners:
* Approved a conditional-use permit for Jordan League, who is seeking to operate an event venue on her property at 6479 E. 1st St. She said the barn on the property could hold about 100 people and that renting it out for a wedding would cost about $1,600.
* Approved paying weekly bills totaling $129,331.10. Westfall pointed out that the county has spent $4,410 for the pro tempore services of Judge Timothy Chambers for district court. He said Chambers was a state employee, so the county should get some state money.
“This needs to be worked out and we need to file a claim,” he said.
He said the county was required to pay operational expenses for district court but not the salaries.
* Approved sponsoring the third annual Harvey County Safety Fair to the tune of $1,000.
* Went into executive session to interview a candidate for the emergency management director position.