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Gathering at diversion dam causes COVID concern
Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 cases reported
350 1st doses 2-22-21

On Dec. 1, the Pawnee County Health Department posted the following notification:

It has been brought to our attention that on the night of November 27, into the early morning hours of November 28, there was a large social gathering of teenagers at the diversion dam outside of Dundee in Barton County. Those in attendance were from multiple surrounding counties including but not limited to Barton, Pawnee, Pratt and McPherson. If you or someone you know attended this large social gathering, you could have been exposed to at least one or more COVID-19 positive individuals. It is recommended that you self-monitor for 14 days from the date of exposure. Monitoring for this event would go through December 12.

Please monitor yourself for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop any signs or symptoms contact your primary care provider about getting tested.

As always, wear your masks, social distance, and use good hand hygiene.


The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports that as of 9 a.m. Thursday there have been 162,061 COVID-19 cases, resulting in 5,290 hospitalizations and 1,679 statewide deaths. There were 4,615 new cases, 119 new deaths and 185 new hospitalizations reported since Monday, Nov. 30.

KHDE shows a total of 1,742 cases to date for Barton County. The totals for surrounding counties are Ellis, 2,484; Rush, 272; Pawnee, 717; Stafford, 219; Rice, 493; Ellsworth, 728; Russell, 573.

KDHE updated its cluster report on Wednesday. There were no clusters in Barton County. KDHE publishes the names of locations that have five or more COVID cases with symptom onset in the last 14 days.

Clusters in the Golden Belt include:

Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility, 7 cases; Hospital District #1 of Rice County, Lyons, 5; Larned State Hospital, 11; Leisure Homestead of St. John, 11; Locust Grove Village, La Crosse, 25.

The state reports Pawnee County has had 24 total COVID-19 hospitalizations and Barton County has had 57.

Local reports

Pawnee County Health Department updated that county’s COVID-19 statistics on Tuesday, Dec. 1, saying 105 positive COVID-19 cases had been identified in the last 14 days and 34 in the last seven days. There are 62 active cases in the community and 337 total community cases to date. These numbers do not include positive cases from the prison inmates, Larned State Hospital residents or long-term care residents at community facilities.

“We are starting to see some of the first positive cases from the Thanksgiving holiday and these numbers will continue to climb,” Pawnee County Health Department posted on Facebook. “Please wear your masks, socially distance, and use good hand hygiene.  We can bring our numbers down if we all work together.”

In Barton County, both the Great Bend Public Library and the Front Door facilities closed this week due to COVID-19.

Great Bend USD 428 lengthened its Thanksgiving break, closing on Nov. 23 and resuming classes on Monday, Nov. 30. However, the school district has continued to receive notifications of staff or students testing positive most days.

From this week:

• Sunday, Nov. 29, two students at Great Bend High School and two staff members at Great Bend Middle School tested positive.

• Monday, four students at GBMS, two at Jefferson Elementary, one at GBHS and one at Lincoln Elementary tested positive, along with one staff member at Jefferson.

• Tuesday, a staff member at Riley Elementary, a student at GBHS and a student at Park Elementary tested positive. 

• Wednesday, two staff members at GBMS, two students at GBMS and a staff member at the District Education Center tested positive.

Thirty-two additional quarantines were expected due to close contact with the above cases. In some cases these were family members.

Barton County’s last COVID-19 update was issued at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 and showed 95 new cases since Nov. 25. As of Monday, there were 1,655 total cases and 241 were active. There have been 13 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

The total cases include 704 males and 951 females.

The location and number of positive cases by residence, and the number of current active cases:

Albert 1 - 1

Claflin 58 - 9

Ellinwood 170 - 16

Great Bend 1,000 - 166

Hoisington 147 - 17

Olmitz 10 - 2

Pawnee Rock 13 - 2

Rural Barton County 256 - 27