County’s COVID cases among worst in state

Allen County has 123 active cases this week, about double last week. Many cases are children, the SEK Multi-County Health Department reports. They county's high number of infections ranks it 100th out of 105 counties.

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December 8, 2021 - 10:15 AM

Eleven-year-old Cameron Jensen receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic for Bethel School District children at Willamette High School.

Allen County is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with numbers nearly double from last week.

The county had 123 active cases as of Monday, up from 59 last week.

Many of those cases are children, Rebecca Johnson, director of the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Departments, said. 

It’s likely the spike in cases is related to a spread of infection following the Thanksgiving holiday, she said.

“Last year, the biggest spike we saw was at Thanksgiving as well,” she said. “Lots of people travel to see family and friends and some don’t realize they are sick, or think they just have allergies or something, then it turns out to be COVID-19.”

Johnson recommends people continue to wear masks in large gatherings, use good hygiene, practice social distancing, and stay home when sick.

She also recommends getting vaccinated and tested if you are feeling ill. 

The surge in infections is concerning, she said.

“With changes like this, I worry about schools and businesses staying open. I worry about our local economy. I worry about everyone’s mental health, as well as physical,” she said.

Rebecca Johnson

VACCINATIONS FOR children and adults, as well as booster shots for all adults, are available at the health department, health clinics and pharmacies.

Any of the three COVID vaccines can be given as a booster shot.

The Iola school district will have a vaccination clinic for children on Thursday, a week after a high rate of cases at Lincoln Elementary School triggered a building-wide mask mandate.

Lincoln’s cases rose to 9 as of Tuesday, up from 7 last week. Cases increased at all of the district’s buildings, but none except Lincoln were high enough to trigger a mask mandate. Jefferson Elementary was at 6, just one case away from reaching the 4% number that would trigger a mask mandate.

“Things are seeming to pick up with children getting vaccinated, but there are still more adults getting vaccinated than children,” Johnson said. 

“I’m glad for the increase but wish we’d see more getting this shot. This will decrease quarantines and time missed from school and work, something that is encouraging to parents.”

ALLEN County has reported 2,291 cases since the pandemic began, with 26 deaths.

The county’s COVID ranking, as reported by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, fell back to 80th out of 105 counties, after improving to 78th last week. The ranking is based on the number of cases, vaccination rate and testing.

When it comes to the number of cases, Allen County ranks 100th, making it one of the worst places in the state for infections.

The CDC reports all counties in Kansas are at a “high” or “substantial” risk of transmission.

The county’s vaccination rate continues to make slow progress, with 47.28% of residents with at least one dose and 43.29% fully vaccinated. That compares with 46.8% and 42.9% rates reported last week.

The state average is 57.3% with at least one dose and 49.7% fully vaccinated.

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