County health: No COVID-19 cases from fair

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Lynnette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department , has been asked by commissioners and social media users about the Harvey County Fair since the event was hosted July 30 through Aug. 3 in Newton.

Those questions came, in most cases, out of frustration that the events where large gatherings of people — who did not wear facial coverings — in the middle of a pandemic under a face mask order by the Harvey County Board of Health.

The fair was limited to a mud volleyball tournament, two nights of rodeo, a demolition derby, an antique tractor pull and a carnival this year. All 4-H competitions were moved to online formats.

On Tuesday, she answered the No. 1 question levied.

“We have no cases related to that event,” Redington said. “We have nothing to attribute to groups getting together for that event.”

On Tuesday morning, she updated the commission on the total case loads in the county — 46 — and the outbreak recorded during student registration at Bethel College, 34 attributed to Bethel College.

“We are working very closely with them, and as you can imagine there are multiple contacts for a number of the cases,” Redington said. “... We have had some folks that have gone home and are residing at their home address, which means they do not count on our numbers. We have some individuals that never got reported to Harvey County and we cannot find them all. ... They are getting investigated on that end.”

Redington said the Bethel outbreak did contribute to an increased positive testing rate — setting the rate at 12.8%.

Students who tested positive for COVID-19 and wanted to stay on campus were placed in isolation. They have not been allowed to leave the campus.

“That was a good plan, good job,” Commissioner Chip Westfall said.

Redington also told the commission that Newton Presbyterian Manor had not recorded another positive case of COVID-19 after being designated as a cluster about two weeks ago when several staff, and one resident, tested positive for the disease.

“We have no other postives or outbreaks there,” Redington said. “We will be terminating that on the 31st, closing that cluster if they make it all the way through the 31st without a positive. Everything is going well at this time”

According to Redington, local hospitals are able to deal with current case loads — and transfer patients to other hospitals, if needed.

In other business, the commission:

• Received an update on the law enforcement center remodel project. Work is projected to be completed at the end of September or beginning of October.

• Reviewed the termination of a lease agreement with ICM at the county Transfer Station. ICM had leased property for the study of a gasifier and has terminated the project.

• Discussed an economic recovery report. Kansas unemployment numbers are hovering around 7%.

• Learned that three houses were sold during a tax sale.

• Approved a solid-waste plan update to be filed with KDHE.

• Approved changes to an aerial imaging contract.