Ellis County’s COVID case growth remains consistent as state sees record surge

BY JUSTIN SABATA

A recent surge of COVID-19 has affected the state with over 3,800 new cases being reported Tuesday by The New York Times. During Monday’s county commission meeting, Ellis County Director of Health Services Jason Kennedy explained the area has not seen a similar surge though cases are still prevalent. 

“I will say Ellis County has fared fairly well,” Kennedy said. “We saw our peak really early on in the summer. We’ve kind of just had a consistent increase.”

On Monday, the department announced 129 active cases of COVID-19 in Ellis County with an average of 12 new cases a day for the past week. These statistics have been consistent since the spike that occurred in late August.

“We’ve averaged around, between eight and 14 (new) cases a day for our seven-day averages for, really, the last couple of months,” Kennedy said.

The overall percent-of-postives rate has continued to increase at 13.1% on Monday (12.8% last Wednesday). Fortunately, hospitalizations have decreased due in part to a decrease in cases in long-term care facilities. As of Monday, there were three active hospitalizations in the county.

“We’ve seen a drastic reduction in hospitalizations because it’s passed through the long-term care facilities,” Kennedy said. ”And the long-term care facilities are now on kind of a recovery status.”

Kennedy also praised the staff of these facilities and their efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The long-term cares have done a phenomenal job,” Kennedy said. “I’ve got the utmost respect for the job they’ve done, and for what the patients and families have endured.”

Continuing on hospitalizations, Kennedy described his skepticism in reports on the current state of the Kansas healthcare system.

“Kansas’s healthcare system is not overwhelmed,” Kennedy said. “I don’t see it completely being overwhelmed, I don’t see that as a conceivable probability.”

As reported by the KDHE on Sunday, 40% of ICU beds are still available statewide including 88% of total ventilators. Regionally, according to Lawrence Journal-World, areas like southwest Kansas have reached total ICU bed capacity.

The holiday season could mean a continued increase in cases. However, the health director observed responsible measures being taken on Halloween weekend and encouraged the same for the upcoming holidays.

“Just make good choices, make smart choices – same thing as people did on Halloween,” Kennedy said. “I saw them really, you know, people spaced out well, they tried to distance as much as possible. I saw mask use – I saw people, you know, making good choices.”

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