Harvey County Health Department reports vetting testing data

By Adam Strunk

After extensive work, Harvey County Health Department reported finding at least 1,800 negative COVID-19 tests that had been assigned to the county which came from non-residents.

As has been reported, state and county statistics were not matching up in regard to negative COVID-19 tests, with the state sometimes reporting the county having hundreds more negative tests than the county reported.

On Sept. 10, Health Director Lynnette Redington stated that the department examined its data and was finding negative COVID-19 tests the state assigned to it that were not from county residents.

At a press conference Tuesday, she said that now the total count of tests conducted on county residents was 5,084. Last week, the number reported was 6,902. That’s a difference of 1,818, meaning nearly a quarter of negative tests previously counted in the county were not actually from county residents, according to Harvey County Health Department vetting.

“Huge different, right?” she said. “That’s because we went through and vetted all of our reports that we could and made sure we informed the Kansas Health and Epidemiology Department of what was ours and what weren’t ours.”

She said that she was unable to give an exact number of just how many negative test results had to be removed, because COVID-19 testing has continued this week.

Redington said the county has now adopted a new protocol in regard to negative tests.

“Every test we get notified of, we go through that list and make sure they are Harvey County residents, and if not, they get passed to where they need to be in Kansas,” she said.

The county never experienced a similar issue with positive tests, because it contact traced all positive cases and was able to tell what cases were in county and which were not.

Redington said that she now believes the county and the state are on the same page, and moving forward, the county will be using the data provided by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment when coming up with its percent positive rate for COVID-19 tests.

“We have worked very hard to make sure our numbers were equivalent to what we see in the state,” she said. “We vet every single test we’ve seen now.”

She said she has confidence in the accuracy of the number going with the new protocols in place.

For what it’s worth, both the state and the county reported a 5.4 percent positive test rate for COVID-19 tests conducted on Harvey County residents over the last two weeks. That’s a drop from the 10.2 percent the county reported the Tuesday morning prior.

In other good news, active cases and new cases continue to be lower than in weeks past.

Harvey County added 11 COVID-19 cases this week to bring its total number up to 320.

The county has 13 active cases, and no residents are currently hospitalized.

Redington said the county continues to see positive trends in cases.

The next question mark is if there will be a rise in new cases as children have returned to school.

Redington said that she knew school districts across the county were working hard to implement safety measures.

She said with an incubation period of up to 14 days, it could be another week or more before a back-to-school spike presents itself, if it does.

The county averaged 1.57 new cases per day for the last week; its lowest weekly average since July 7.