The Barton County Health Department and private health care providers have stepped up their COVID-19 testing efforts, Interim Health Director Karen Winkelman told county commissioners Tuesday morning. This comes as the county has seen a jump in the number of positive virus cases.
“In Barton County, we’ve tested approximately 600 people, so that number has gone up,” she said. That is both the Health Department and private tests combined.
“As of Saturday morning, we have had 390 quarantine and isolation orders that have been issued and delivered with the assistance of the sheriff’s office,” she said. Of those, about 212 are still active.
“There are 45 positive cases in the county,” she said. “We remain at one COVID related death.”
The most recent numbers indicate there were 9,218 positive cases in Kansas, 800 hospitalizations, 188 deaths attributed to COVID and a medium age of 41 (which is younger than it has been). The Kansas Department of Health and Environment now updates its numbers on the statewide web page on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“I haven’t been here for a couple of weeks and it seems like a lot has happened in our department,” Winkelman said. “With the numbers going up, we continue to be very active and the contact investigation, which is like I’ve mentioned before, very time consuming. But it’s a very much needed role that we play in the community.”
She reached out to KDHE last week and they do have some opportunities for some contact-tracing help. That was Thursday and she hasn’t heard back
Her staff has to follow individuals for 14 days after their last potential exposure and that requires a lot of effort, she said. “So I’m anxious to get a response.”
The department has been doing testing through its drive-through clinic on the north side of the Sheriff’s Office. It is offered on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings by appointment only from 9 a.m. to noon.
“We’ve averaged between three to 10 at each time,” she said. “We are allowed to do up to 20 at each event that we have.”
Last Monday, the department finished up some cohort testing for Medicalodges of Great Bend under the direction of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “They asked us to do another cohort testing of all of the employees and all of the residents a second time to make sure that we had covered the incubation period from the first time that we were out,” she said.
Her staff collected 48 specimens and more were collected on-site for a total of 152. “That was a busy morning, and we couldn’t have done it without teamwork and help from other departments,” she said, adding they also had assistance from nearby emergency medical services departments.
Of those tested, there are still two results pending. But, as of Tuesday, they have a total of eight positive cases at the long-term care facility, six staff members and two residents.
They are working closely with KDHE on this testing.
The Health Department continues to have health department updates every afternoon with KDHE, Winkelman said. They are looking at resources are right now, and then also anticipating some of the county’s future needs.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday moved the state to phase 2 of her Ad Astra plan to reopen the state. This came as surprise since she had just a few days earlier set a phase 1.5 delaying phase 2 by two weeks, Winkelman said.
“Health departments were some of the last to find out that was going to happen,” she said. “So, again we just roll with it the best we can. Every day is changing. And we deal with those changes as they come along.”