Public meeting attendees warned of virus exposure as cases increase in county

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

PLEASANTON – The Linn County Health Department issued a release today, July 28, that said that there was a strong possibility that people who attended two of the county comprehensive plan meetings last week came into contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19.

According to the release, people who attended the meeting at Pleasanton High School on July 20 and Jayhawk-Linn High School on July 21 might have been exposed.

That news came shortly after the health department released its most recent report that showed a rise in Covid-19 cases in the county.

As of noon on Wednesday, July 28, Linn County had 39 active cases. Mound City had the most cases with 13, followed by nine at Pleasanton, eight in La Cygne, four in Prescott, three in Parker and two in Blue Mound. Two of those cases required hospitalization.

Tisha Coleman, director of the health department, also said the county had recorded one death from Covid-19 since the last report on July 21 The fatality was from La Cygne, and at 60 years old was the youngest person yet to die in the county from the virus.

Eleven of the cases were young adults ages 18 to 34, 14 cases were in ages ranging from 35 to 64, and five were in the 65 and older group. Eight children in the age range up to 17 years old tested positive fo the virus, and the age of one person tested was unknown.

The number of people with positive tests increased by 14 on Tuesday, July 27.

The county also has six confirmed cases of the Delta variant, up from three cases a week ago. The Delta variant is a more highly contagious strain of the virus compared to the virus found in the area though since the beginning of the pandemic through June this year.

The new positive cases bring the total cases in Linn County since the beginning of the pandemic to almost 950. But Coleman believes the actual number of cases is significantly higher.

Many people who showed no or few symptoms likely did not get the test. And she said she knew of cases where parents took their child with Covid-19 symptoms to the doctor but refused to give the child a Covid-19 test when offered.

Workers at the health department in Pleasanton can get results on Covid-19 tests performed at the department in 90 minutes or less, Coleman said. However, in order to find out whether the newer cases have the Delta variant, samples are shipped off the labs working for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), so there is some delay in getting those results back.

However, Coleman said she expected many of the newer cases to be positive for the Delta variant.

Citing a vaccination rate across the county at about 30 percent, she said she expected the number of cases to increase significantly in the coming weeks. “It’s here,” she said, “and we’ll get through it.”

The director also said that her staff was beginning to see some breakthrough cases where people who are vaccinated still become infected. She said that most of those cases were people who had received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

She was also concerned about steps the county’s three school districts plan to take as the beginning of school coincides with the increase of Covid cases. Referring to the new recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday, July 27, Coleman said she would recommend that all students wear masks.

“I would like to think that schools would at least consider requiring masks,” she said.

The health department advises people who attended the meetings at Pleasanton and Jayhawk-Linn high schools – and others who might contract the virus – to be on the lookout for symptoms that include fever, cough, body aches, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell. The department strongly suggests getting tested for the virus and staying home for a least 10 days from the start of the symptoms and at least three days of no symptoms before you return to being around others.

In addition to free testing for Covid-19, the health center can also administer the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccines for free. The department, located at 11240 Tucker Rd. in Pleasanton, conducts a walk-in clinic every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to noon, or residents can call 913-352-6640 to schedule a vaccination.

And those who have questions about the vaccines are welcome to call and have those questions answered.

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