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Final review of death certificates lowers KS COVID-19 death count
Karen Winkelman gives local update
Barton County Health Department Director Karen Winkelman gives an update on COVID-19 during Wednesday's Great Bend Kiwanis Club meeting at Walnut Bowl. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The number of Kansas deaths attributed to COVID-19 dropped from 8,970 to 8,935 on Wednesday, a difference of 35 from Aug. 8.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released its weekly COVID-19 update on Wednesday. As of 9 a.m., there were 6,597 new cases statewide since the previous Wednesday, Aug. 8. “A large number of COVID-19 deaths were removed from the count on Wednesday after a large number of records with pending data were updated using final data from death certificates,” KDHE reported.

Statewide, the transmission rate for new cases remains “high” in 99 of 105 counties. This is based on 100 or more new cases per 100,000 people in those counties from July 30 through Aug. 5. The most recent five days are not included as data is expected to be incomplete.

The rate was “substantial” in Cheyenne, Wallace and Comanche counties, indicating 50-99 cases per 100,000 people, and “moderate” in Stanton, Morton and Meade counties, with 10-49 cases per 100,000.

Here are the new case counts for July 30 through Aug. 5 for area counties:

• Barton, 41

• Ellsworth, 37

• Pawnee, 10

• Rice, 18

• Rush, 8

• Russell, 20

• Stafford, 15

Sedgwick County posted 1,062 new cases, more than any other county, although its rate of 206 cases per 100,000 people was exceeded by some counties in northeast Kansas. Other central Kansas counties with case numbers of note: Ford County had 100 and Reno County had 197.

Winkelman addresses 

Kiwanis Club

Barton County Health Director Karen Winkelman presented a local COVID-19 update at Wednesday’s Great Bend Kiwanis Club meeting. County numbers are no longer reported to the public by the health department, since the information is available on KDHE’s weekly online updates, she said.

Winkelman said new cases are probably under-reported now that home tests are readily available.

The health department still provides vaccines, a job that has become more demanding now that there are different products and there are different dosage levels based on age. Vaccine is available starting at 6 months and the health department has provided doses to all ages, including a small number of babies.

“We have all preparations on hand and we do vaccines on a walk-in basis,” she said.

A common question is whether individuals can get a COVID-19 vaccination on the same day as a flu shot. The answer is “yes,” although they are not administered together. 

“I’m hoping that at some point the COVID-19 vaccine will be included in the flu shot every year,” she said. Annual COVID-19 vaccinations could be coming because one vaccine doesn’t get 100% of the variants out there.

Another common question is how safe are COVID-19 vaccines and Winkelman said the data shows they are extremely safe. Her office has received calls from people who reported sore arms or illness after being vaccinated. They don’t hesitate to fill out adverse reaction reports. 

With school about to start, Winkelman said she’ll be meeting with the Great Bend superintendent on Friday and she thinks the school district was revised its COVID-19 response plan.  The CDC may be easing its guidelines of social distancing.

“We all need to be cautious and carry on the things that we learned already – hygiene and respiratory etiquette,” she said. “Stay home when you’re sick.”