Finney County Health Department gives vaccination update

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
The Finney County Administrative Center is located in the 300 block of North Ninth Street.

An update on COVID-19 in the county and its vaccination status was given to the Finney County Commission at its regular meeting Monday.

Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, said as of Monday morning there were 20 active COVID-19 cases in the county and two people are hospitalized at St. Catherine Hospital.

Over the course of the pandemic there have been a total of 5,993 positive cases, 10,668 total negative cases and 49 Finney County residents have died of COVID-19, Drees reported.

The health department is Phase 2 of the vaccination plan and has added three organizations to the population eligible to receive the vaccine: Sunflower Electric, Wheatland Electric and Black Hills Energy employees.

Other eligible population groups include agriculture workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.), transportation workers (airport, City Link, taxi), city/county/state employees including the DMV, educational staff, licensed day cares, licensed clergy, first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, corrections), those 65 and older and long-term care facility employees and residents.

Drees said more eligible populations will be announced as the county moves through the phases.

Walk-in times are now available for people in the eligible populations as of last Monday, Drees said. Hours will be announced for the following weeks typically on the Friday before; however, it depends on the inventory of vaccine and staffing.

"We'll also be announcing soon walk-in availability for on Saturday a month and evening walk-in times one day a week. For example, we'll have after 5 p.m. walk-in availability," she said.

Walk-in times can be found on the health department's portal on the Finney County website at finneycounty.org/covidhub.

Walk-ins are required to show identification and present proof of employment with either a work badge of a pay stub from the last two weeks, Drees said. Some employers that don't have badges have produced a letter on company letterhead to identify someone as their employee so they can receive a vaccine.

Eligible residents can still schedule an appointment.

As of Monday morning, 8,421 COVID-19 vaccines have been given, Drees said. Approximately 6,402 of those are first doses.

"We anticipate increasing our vaccination numbers as we receive additional doses from the state and vaccinate individuals at the mass vaccination clinic," she said.

So far, 1,500 Tyson employees were vaccinated as of Thursday and Friday of last week at the vaccination clinic in collaboration with Tyson staff and support from the Kansas National Guard, Drees said.

On Thursday, 1,159 employees were vaccinated, and approximately 347 were vaccinated on Friday, Drees said. The number is not all-inclusive of Tyson employees as over 250 were vaccinated at the mass vaccination clinic at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

The health department will return to Tyson on April 1 and 2 to provide second doses of the vaccine.

Drees said the health department uses all three brands of the vaccine: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Jonson, which it received its first shipment of last week.

"The state prefers that we use the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine for transient population, homeless shelter, very specific populations, so we're still working on defining how we'll use the Johnson & Johnson — whether that will be offered open at walk-in clinic," she said.

Moderna will be the one used for the rest of this week, Drees said.

In other business, county employees were recognized for their 20-year anniversaries and Kansas Association of Counties service awards for 8, 16, 24, 32 and 40 years of service:

• 40 years: Ulrike Lappin, retired Register of Deeds.

• 32 years: Kevin Thomas, Noxious Weeds supervisor; Michael Warren, Sheriff's Office Undersheriff.

• 24 years: Timothy Shultz, Sheriff's Office Patrol Lieutenant; Nora Shultz, Sheriff's Office Records supervisor.

• 20 years: Sammy Darroch, Sheriff's Office Road Patrol Sergeant; Greg Hansa, Sheriff's Office Investigations Major; Carlos Murillo, Deputy Director of the Juvenile Detention Center; Yolanda Herrera, Department of Corrections office manager; Mary Holmes, Deputy County Appraiser; Theresa Maddoz, paramedic; Angela Schmitt, Parks and Fairgrounds coordinator; Penelope Medina, Juvenile Detention Center Food Service manager; Karen Wesley, Sheriff's Office retired Animal Control Officer.

• 16 years: Beth Beavers, Department of Corrections director; Dirk Roth, Sheriff's Office Jail Sergeant.

• Eight years: Evelyn Atkinson, Sheriff's Office Food Service assistant; Jarred Clements, Juvenile Detention Officer Acting Supervisor; Kathy Frick, Department of Corrections Substance Abuse Counselor; Kelly Munyan, Human Resources director; Jeffrey Rever, Public Works Equipment Operator III; Esis Rojas, Sheriff's Office Computer Support Tech II; Lisa Tomlinson, WIC Registered Nurse; Dale Wilson, former Juvenile Detention Officer.