COVID-19 continues its grip across the county

Updated: Jan 28

The latest numbers from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) indicate that COVID-19 continues to exert its grip on Linn County residents.

Numbers released Friday by KDHE revealed that 51 new cases were reported between 9 a.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19–21, a two-day period. The number of new cases of what is likely to be the omicron variant in the seven days leading up to Friday’s count was 181.

That number far outstrips the weekly count during the height of the delta variant surge last September.

So far this month, more than 530 Linn County residents have a received a positive test.

In the week from Friday, Jan. 14 to Friday, Jan. 21, KDHE reported that Miami County had 935 new cases, Bourbon County had 619 new positives, and Anderson County recorded 340 new cases.

Across Kansas, there were more than 61,100 new positive cases over a seven-day period ending on Friday. The number of new COVID-19 related deaths during that period was 157, and 243 people with coronavirus admitted to hospitals across the state.

More than 7,300 Kansans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020, according to KDHE.

Test results are reported to KDHE from the county health department, medical clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, and schools. However, Missy Lancaster, director of the Linn County Health Department in Pleasanton, has pointed out the positive results from in-home test kits are likely not reported to KDHE.

In-home testing has become so common that the Johnson County Health Department has begun asking people who have a positive test at home to notify the department so they can at least try to keep accurate records.

And health officials have also said it is likely that some people who contract omicron are not being tested unless the symptoms become severe.

KDHE has reported no new fatal cases of the virus in the past few weeks, nor no new cases of hospitalizations in Linn County. However, those numbers have not always been current and often did not jibe with numbers being reported by the Linn County Health Department.

The county health department was ordered by the Linn County Commission late last month to cease publishing county-generated reports on COVID-19.

Schools have continued to be affected by the spread. Jayhawk USD 346 suspended classes last week for two days because of 50 positive cases and a 30 percent absentee rate of students and staff. Prairie View USD 362 also closed the Friday before the three-day weekend that included the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

On its weekly COVID-19 update on Friday, Jan.14, Prairie View reported that 22 students and six staff members had confirmed positive tests. It also reported that 149 students and 16 staff members were in either quarantine off school grounds or were observing a modified quarantine protocol that included wear a mask and testing.

Both districts were back in session on Tuesday, and so far, Pleasanton USD 344 has not been forced to suspend classes.

Reports from around the region point to hospitals still being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, despite some reports that the omicron variant has less severe symptoms than those of delta.

From the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) to KDHE to local clinics, the advice to stop the likelihood of the coronavirus causing hospitalization or even death has been to get vaccinated and get a booster shot. They also continue to suggest wearing masks when indoors, practice social distancing, wash hands and don’t touch your face.

The vaccination rate in Linn County continues to hover around 40 percent, according to KDHE. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 and older in October, causing the percentage of Linn County residents receiving the shot to drop into the mid-30 percent range.

However, nearly 41 percent of county residents 5 years and older have now received a complete vaccination series.

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