By Jessie Wagoner
McPherson County has marked an unpleasant milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 65 McPherson County residents have now died due to COVID-19 complications.
According to a release issued by the McPherson County Health Department on Jan. 26, the county reports 65 total deaths, with 12 current hospitalizations. There have been 43 men and 22 women in the county who have died. The youngest individual to die was 30 years old, with the oldest being 96 years of age.
While the death toll has now climbed significantly, COVID-19 cases overall appear to be trending down. During the most active period of the pandemic, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13, the county positivity rate was 67.53 percent. The most recent period documented by the health department spans Jan. 11 through Jan. 24 and shows the county positivity rate has declined and now sits at 40.96 percent.
Unfortunately, McPherson County has still not received enough vaccine doses to complete the first phase of vaccinations. While some hospital staff and first responders have been vaccinated, not all have been able to yet. Some McPherson Public School staff will begin to receive vaccinations this week, but it is unknown when more vaccines will be arriving.
“It’s hard to comprehend and explain how many factors come into play with all of this,” McPherson County Health Department Director Shalei Shea said. “This week we are hoping to find out how many doses we will receive for the next phase, and in the meantime, we are working to prioritize groups in Phase 2. We are also working with healthcare partners to plan for vaccinating the general population.”
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is now providing vaccine updates on their website at https://www.kansasvaccine.gov/. According to the website, 132,145 Kansans have been vaccinated so far. This total represents less than five percent of the state population.
The McPherson County Health Department continues to recommend residents practice social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.