BY JUSTIN SABATA
The COVID-19 situation in Ellis County has improved greatly from a month ago. COVID vaccines were administered this week to medical staff and the average new cases per day have decreased from 45 cases per day last month to nine cases per day as of Wednesday.
There were eight hospitalizations reported by the Ellis County Health Department, contrasting from the 15+ reported a few weeks ago. Ellis County Director of Health Services, Jason Kennedy, gave his COVID update during Monday’s county commission meeting.
“Things are improving in Ellis County and the vaccine is finally here,” Kennedy said. “This is good news and it’s also a time for us to, maybe, all reflect on our personal decisions as we move through it – there is an end in sight to this pandemic.”
Three Ellis County residents have passed away due to the virus since Monday. According to the KDHE, over 2,500 Kansans have died due to COVID since the pandemic began.
“We need people to still make good decisions now,” Kennedy said. “Obviously, until you’ve received a vaccine, you’re still at the same risk as you were prior to.”
Kennedy also reported that the county will be short of the amount of vaccinations for Phase 1a of the Center for Disease Control’s “Phased Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines.” This phase involves medical personnel and residents in long-term care facilities.
“We will still be short of that quantity,” Kennedy said. “And we will remain short of that probably for some time.”
Ellis County is currently prioritizing the vaccine to health care workers such as hospital staff.
“The long-term cares (care facilities) and the skilled nursing facilities are handled through a separate private contract through the federal government,” Kennedy said. “With private pharmacies handling that side of it.”
As reported by Kennedy, some healthcare workers in Ellis County have not yet requested a COVID vaccination. The health director also reported that the vaccine will not be mandated to medical staff. Other areas in the state like Kansas City have also declined mandatory vaccinations for their healthcare workers.
“As we’ve talked before, I will not mandate the vaccination as an employer,” Kennedy said. “But, we’ve educated, we’ve provided them with the best data we have with guidance, and allowed them to make an informed decision on what they want to do with it.”
The Ellis County Commission will meet again January 4. The meetings can be viewed on the county’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Information on COVID-19 in Ellis County is updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by the ECHD.