By Jessie Wagoner
With COVID-19 cases declining, the McPherson County Health Department has moved the county to Phase Three of the reopening plan. Phase Three limits gatherings to 45 individuals when six-foot distance is not maintained.
“After carefully considering local hospital capacity, new case rates and provider feedback, MCHD recommends McPherson County transition to Phase Three reopening plans beginning Feb. 10,” Shalei Shea, director of MCHD, said.
As of press time, McPherson County had a total of 3,060 cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, 2,054 met recovery guidelines or passed away. There are currently 1,006 active cases of COVID-19 reported in the county. While the active number remains at 1,006, it is unlikely that number is accurate.
Shea explained that, when cases began to rapidly increase, the health department became overwhelmed by the numbers, and staff was unable to track all of the cases locally. In an effort to assist the local health department, the state began providing contact tracing for a large number of cases. While helpful, it has made tracking recoveries difficult, as the local health department is not tracking each case themselves and is instead relying on data from the state, which is often slow to come in.
“When a case is investigated by KDHE instead of MCHD staff, we no longer have ‘easy access’ to that case information and have to take extra steps to locate and track those cases and their recoveries,” Shea said. “So the process of counting recoveries takes much, much longer. The good news is that, with our decrease in new cases, it’s likely the recovery number will continue increasing rapidly because the system is less bogged-down and there are less cases to sort through.”
As of press time, the county has 12 current hospitalizations and a total of 69 deaths. Of the deaths, 43 have been nursing home residents of facilities that have experienced outbreaks.
COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more readily available in the community. Since Dec. 21, 2020, MCHD has received a total of 1,610 vaccines. They have administered 810 vaccines themselves and have transferred the remaining 800 vaccines to local providers.
“At this time, McPherson County Health Department will be prioritizing Phase Two entities based on known risk and health factors,” Shea said. “MCHD will reach out to the named entities as previous groups are vaccinated and doses become available. MCHD is not scheduling for later phases at this time, but you may email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information for future reference.”
Community members should contact their local primary care physician to discuss vaccination options. McPherson Center for Health patients can sign up for COVID-10 vaccine updates at https://mcphersoncenterforhealth.org/.