Harvey County case count hits 100

Chad Frey
The Kansan

With the Harvey County Health Department reporting 90 new COVID-19 cases last week — and 100 active cases with nine hospitalizations as of Tuesday — county administrator Anthony Swartzendruber had a question for county commissioners. 

"I am coming to you to see if you would like to make any changes to policies I have reviewed with you, in addition to if you would like to make any changes to requiring masks in county facilities again," Swartzendruber said. 

COVID-19

The answer, at least Tuesday, was no. 

Last year during the height of the pandemic County Commissioners passed a resolution requring facial coverings to be worn in public areas of the courthouse by both the general public and county workers. That order expired May 31, and has not been renewed. 

The courthouse remains under the resolution passed this year that "encourages" the use of facial coverings by both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. 

To again require the use of facial coverings in the courthouse, a resolution would be required. County administrative staff has not prepared such an ordinance for review, asking this week if they should do so. 

"Right now I think this is week-to-week. I know that is not all that helpful to you," said county commissioner Chip Westfall. "Do we know, have we hit our peak and will we stop dropping back down? That is one theory that has been put out there."

Westfall stated he would support departments working in other buildings requiring facial coverings in those buildings. 

"When you say week-to-week, what do you mean by that? What is the threshold for the commission to want to see a different action to be taken," Swartzendruber asked. 

There was not a clear answer. 

"Go get vaccinated. That is the only comment that I have. That is the only way we are going to beat this virus," answered commissioner Randy Hague.

"I would have to see true infection within the building or other sites," Westfall added. 

Currently the Harvey County Health Department requireds facial coverings worn within its building, and federal mandates require facial coverings for the transportation department. 

Days before the commission discussed the issue, the city of Wichita chose to not move forward with a mask mandate. 

The commission learned Tuesday that the Health Department is starting third shots for the immunocompromised, and waiting for guidance about booster shots for others. 

Of the current nine hospitalizations, six are for patients who were not vaccinated.  This week the FDA gave full approval to a vaccine by Pfizer.