County seeks help with COVID testing

The health department system has asked the state to provide testing trailers and over-the-counter tests as cases in Allen County remain high. Currently, the county has 309 active cases.

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January 28, 2022 - 2:34 PM

The Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Departments have requested the state’s help with testing for COVID-19 as cases continue to surge in Allen County.

The county currently has 309 active cases, according to the CDC’s COVID Tracker. That number is actually going down, and has dropped about 26% since last week. 

“Kansas has the highest case rates in the country, but we are seeing the cases decline as the week has gone on,” Rebecca Johnson, health department director, said.

On Monday, Kansas reported about 10,000 new COVID cases per day. By Wednesday, that had dropped to about 7,000 cases per day. 

Johnson said she has asked the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for testing trailers for Allen County, and is waiting for a response. She’s also requested over-the-counter tests.

“If we do receive some of of those, we’ll work with our community partners and provide a certain amount per household to the public,” Johnson said. 

She expects supplies to be limited, if the request is granted.

Johnson also suggests families order free at-home tests provided by the federal government. Go online to www.covidtests.gov to order the tests. The process takes just a few seconds and asks only for a name and address. 

JOHNSON does not plan to ask the National Guard to assist with testing, as Neosho County did earlier this week. 

The National Guard can help because Gov. Laura Kelly has issued an emergency declaration for the state. However, health department staff would need to supervise any site that was set up and provide resources. Johnson said that would be difficult for her staff to manage, as they would not be able to perform other essential duties.

AS CASES continue to surge, hospitals across the state are reporting lack of available beds and long waits in the emergency room.

Schools across the state have canceled classes at various points, including schools in Colony and Moran. All but one of the Iola schools triggered a mask mandate in the past couple of weeks as cases rose, but the number of infections have dropped by about half this week. 

“I’m most concerned about our healthcare facilities, residents, patients, and staff,” Johnson said. “They are being hit hard and in many cases (throughout the state) there are just not enough staff to care for the amount of residents or patients that their facility has.”

Johnson said she continues to recommend everyone wear a mask when in a large gathering, use good hygiene, social distance, get vaccinated if you are able and stay home when you are sick.

Allen County’s vaccination rate remains low, with 47.4% of residents age 5 and older who are fully vaccinated. 

Hospital admissions also have increased in Allen County with five new admissions, an increase of 66.67%, according to the CDC. 

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