More doses, less cases, but a caveat from the health department

By Adam Strunk

The county will see another 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses come this week.

That includes 600 first doses to be administered at a Friday clinic and 400 second doses to give to those who’ve already received their first dose.

Health Department Director Lynnette Redington said the county wait list sets at approximately 3,000 seniors for phase two, as of Tuesday. The number is a decrease from the 3,200, last week. People are getting vaccinated, but more are also signing up for the wait list.

“If they keep giving us the supply and boosting us up, that will be great,” she said of state supplies. “We understand Hesston pharmacy might be getting more vaccine from the federal government, as well.”

She said calls at the county call center for the wait list have now slowed down and they’ve changed the hours for the appointment call center.

“We’re open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for them to call in and get on the 65 or older waiting list,” Redington said.

At the rate of six hundred vaccines per week with few signing up, the county could make it through the elderly by late March.

On the infection end, COVID-19 active cases increased by four to 74 currently sick or infected over last week. The death count increased to 54 county residents.  That’s a seven-person jump. However, it sometimes takes more than a month for the county to get confirmed COVID-19 death results.

Six county residents are hospitalized.

The county only had 38 confirmed cases over the week, the lowest number of daily new cases since early October.

Active cases still exceeded recoveries, however. Redington said that the health department has had to extend the active classification for a number of currently sick people past the regular 10-day period, as they continue to show symptoms.

Redington cautioned as well from reading too much into the low number of new cases.

She explained that fewer tests, around 468, had been conducted over the last week, compared to much larger number in the past.  The decrease was likely due to the frigid weather.

“There’s a trend in the state that cases are going down, but so is testing,” she said. “Our testing hasn’t been huge over the past weeks. I don’t want people to say, ‘I know it’s COVID. I’m staying home.’ If you’re not feeling ill, but have been a close contact, please don’t assume you’re not infected with the virus. Go get tested.”