By Adam Strunk
Harvey County residents must have been listening about Thanksgiving.
The county has experienced two straight weeks of declining COVID-19 numbers. And while they’re still higher than what the county experienced before the month of November, they represent an improvement compared to the peak of 494 active cases and the roughly 40 new cases a day the county averaged in the middle of the last month.
“I want to say Harvey County we did pretty well keeping to our immediate families because our numbers did not sky rocket at this time,” she said. “i want to say thank you and I think we’ve done pretty well at this point.”
She encouraged residents to take the same steps during the Christmas holiday.
The county on Tuesday had 275 active cases, down 100 from the week prior.
“We haven’t had any huge outbreaks this particular week so that’s good,” she said.
Fifteen County residents remain hospitalized. The health department confirmed four additional Harvey County residents died last week from COVID-19 bringing the death toll up to 22. Twenty-one of the twenty two have been over the age of 50. 10 have been over the age of 80.
“Many of them are older individuals but it does range from the 60s to 90s,” she said adding that the national death toll – it passed 300,000 this week – is disheartening.
“Please stay safe and please think of those families missing their loved ones right now.”
At least eight deaths have been in retirement communities.
“They’re doing the best to keep it at bay inside of the facility, but most of the times it’s coming in with staff,” she said. “The best we can do is protect those staffers to make sure those residents stay safe as well.”
She said the county has seen infections at such facilities slowing down.
Vaccines that will soon be available to workers at retirement facilites should help.
Redington said vaccinations should soon begin to be distributed to front line workers and those working in retirement communities. She said that medical providers such as Newton Medical Center will determine how it provides staff its vaccines. The state’s plan has Walgreens in charge of providing access to the vaccines for retirement community staff and others.
“Know that your Harvey county health partners have been talking and getting on the same page,” she said.
Redington said that this Thursday the FDA would likely approve the Moderna vaccine for use which would result in more vaccine being available for first repsonders and health department employees.
She said the state had told the Harvey county health department that it would let each county know the exact amount of vaccination which would be distributed throughout Harvey County.
Redington said despite the improving numbers the county was far from out of the woods yet. She said her department was still stretched and planned on filling new positions.
“We’re not totally out of the woods yet,” she said. “We still have a lot of cases coming in.”
The county still added 224 cases last week at a rate of 32 per day, a higher number than nearly every week outside of peak times in mid November.
On the hospital side capacity in the region remains stretched. The Kansas Hospital Association reports that 25 ICU beds remain open for use in South Central Kansas, representing a remaining nine percent of total capacity.
Hospitalizations lag COVID-19 infections, with hospitalization numbers often corresponding with infection numbers of a few weeks prior.