COVID-19 spiking in October

By Adam Strunk

At the beginning of October, Harvey County averaged 1.83 new cases of COVID-19 per day over a week-long period.

As of Oct. 13, that number was 11.

Nearly every metric to measure COVID-19 has trended in a poor direction since October began. The county has added 102 cases. The weekly percent positive rate from Oct. 4 to Oct 10, according to the State of Kansas, was 19.23 percent. The same number was 2.5 percent at the end of September.

Schools are moving into hybrid learning plans. Bethel College also has limited in-person classes.

Any way you slice it, COVID-19 is back.

Harvey County Health Department Director Lynette Redington explained at the department’s Tuesday press conference that she hopes the increase in numbers will subside.

She noted that some of the increase has been driven by a jump in cases at the Bethel campus. The college reported 48 active cases in its most recent release on Oct. 10.

“We know we had a large spread in Bethel College,” she said. “We knew that would happen,” she added, giving kudos to Bethel College for continuing to monitor the situation.

She said the county included 32 Bethel students in its count, including students and staff. Redington noted some of the students are not included in Harvey County’s count, as they could be living out of county.

“We do see that going up a little bit, as some of our people were routed to home states and counties, and they’ll come back to us,” she said.

The state showed 42 percent of those between 18 and 24 testing for COVID-19 on the week of Oct. 4 tested positive.

Hundreds are in quarantine in the county, including 90 teachers and students in the county’s elementary school systems.

Redington said the state has been helping contact tracing.

She also added a group of people were in quarantine due to a positive case at a childcare facility in the county.

Redington asked those in quarantine to stay home. She said those who have gotten a test need to stay home until they get testing results, as they might feel fine but could be highly contagious.

“Hang home if you went to get a test,” she said.

Redington noted that the county is seeing an increase in community spread or people who don’t know where they have contracted the disease.

She asked people to continue to wear masks, wash hands, and distance, as well as get outside in the sunshine and get some fresh air.

The good news is while the county has seen eight deaths from COVID-19, it’s added none in October.