County COVID-19 numbers trend downward

Chad Frey
The Kansan
The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered in Harvey County at Newton Med in December.

One year ago — Feb. 28, 2020 to be exact — was the first planning meeting involving members of the COVID-19 task force in Harvey County. 

What has followed were community lockdowns, mask mandates, crowd size limitations, spiking infections, contact tracing, the opening of testing centers and beginning vaccine distribution for starters. 

The time period also included 55 deaths within Harvey County. 

However, case loads in the county are dropping — just as they have statewide. 

"We are averaging about five new cases a day over the past 14 days," said Lynette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department. "Nine of those cases, over those 14 days, are cases from other counties that were sent to us. ... We currently have 44 active cases and we have been under 100 active cases for all of February. That is wonderful, as well." 

A total of 13,921 individuals have been tested, 28,419 tests have been administered. The two-week positivity rate is at 4.6%. 

The health department has been focused on vaccinations, which are currently in Phase 2 of rollout. To date, the department has administered more than 3,180 first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since it starting giving the shots in December. The department has given 600 second shots, as well. 

The department anticipates receiving 600 more first doses, and 600 second doses, this week. The department is also expecting 300 doses of a new, single-shot vaccine approved by the FDA last week. 

According to Harvey County Emergency Management, about 64% of staff and 89.7% of residents in four of the eight long-term care facilities in the county have received the vaccine. 

Across Kansas, cases fell in 65 counties, with the best declines in Johnson, Shawnee and Sedgwick counties.

Between Friday and Monday, there were 639 new cases of the coronavirus, eight new deaths and 41 new hospitalizations, per the state health department.

Kansas reported far fewer cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 2,782 new cases. That's down 41.3% from the previous week's toll of 4,740 new cases of the virus.

Kansas ranked 38th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week, the United States added 471,554 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of 3.7% from the week before. Across the country, 29 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

In Kansas, 119 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 244 people were reported dead.

A total of 295,997 people in Kansas have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 4,692 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States, 28,605,669 people have tested positive and 513,091 people have died.

The improving news comes as more cases of the more contagious U.K. variant have appeared in addition to two instances prior.

Eight new cases of the variant have been identified in Sedgwick County. Cases were identified in individuals all of the same household, and do not appear to be connected to earlier cases in Kansas. A case investigation is being conducted and close contacts are being notified. 

“We continue to encourage people to take the appropriate precautions. This includes wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose and face and has multiple layers of fabric or layering thinner masks with an additional cloth face mask to improve the fit,” said Secretary Lee Norman of the state health department. 

— USA Today reporter Mike Stuka and Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Titus Wu contributed to this report.