By Jessie Wagoner
The Smoky Valley School District has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 this week with one of their sports teams being identified as the newest COVID cluster in the county.
The Smoky Valley Middle School girls basketball team was identified as a cluster by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). There are currently five team members who have tested positive for COVID-19. The district as a whole currently has 25 students who are positive.
KDHE is tracking all positive cases of COVID-19 in school districts throughout the state. McPherson Public Schools has 13 positive cases, Inman has four cases, Moundridge has two cases and Canton-Galva has three cases. KDHE does not track the number of students who are quarantined.
Children as young as five years old can now be vaccinated for COVID-19. Since the vaccine has been approved for younger children, there has been little change to the vaccination rates of students in the county. KDHE is currently reporting only 400 McPherson Public School students are vaccinated out of an enrollment of 2,332 students. Canton-Galva has 36 students vaccinated, Inman has 39, Moundridge has 90, and Smoky Valley has 189 vaccinated students.
The McPherson County Health Department is encouraging everyone to get the COVID vaccine in addition to the flu vaccine.
“It is pertinent those who are eligible get vaccinated, individuals stay home when sick and individuals take necessary precautions when gathering,” Shalei Shea, director of the McPherson County Health Department, said. “Flu season is approaching. Be proactive and protect yourself from influenza by getting your flu shot, as well. McPherson County Health Department (MCHD) recommends all individuals 2 years old and above mask in indoor settings when six-foot distance cannot be maintained while community transmission is high.”
As of press time, MCHD is reporting 143 active cases of COVID-19 in the county. Of those cases, seven people are hospitalized, with the remainder recovering at home. The county is now reporting 98 deaths related to COVID-19.