COVID-19 on rise in Finney County

Meghan Flynn
Members of the Garden City High School Marching Stampede adjust their face masks to be able to play their instruments Friday at Buffalo Stadium during the football halftime show. The band's percussion section and flag squad wore their masks during the performance, and all those on the sidelines were required to wear masks. Finney County is seeing a rise in active positive coronavirus cases.

The Finney County Health Department informed the county commission of a rise in COVID-19 cases at Monday’s regular commission meeting.

Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, said the county is now reporting between 30 and 50 positive cases per day over the past two weeks.

“That is an incredible amount of positives that we’re getting every single day,” she said. “Before my range was typically the 25-30 mark between the positives we got when we were testing and then the positives reported to us.”

The county is also seeing more testing and more symptomatic people, Drees said.

For the week of Oct. 5-9, 327 people were tested and 74 were positive for a positivity rate of 23% — an increase of 6% over the previous week.

During that week, there were an average of 13 hospitalizations, with a high of 16 and low of nine.

For the week of Oct. 12-16, 327 people were also tested. Of those, 59 have tested positive, with 135 results still pending.

On average during that week there was also an average of 13 hospitalizations, with a high of 15 and a low of eight.

This past weekend, on Saturday, there were 11 admissions to the hospital and the intensive care unit was full with four people on ventilators.

On Sunday, there were eight positives and the ICU was full with four people on ventilators.

On Monday, there were seven admissions to the hospital, seven in the ICU and four on ventilators.

Drees said the increase is troubling.

“It’s worrisome, especially when you have your ICU rooms full,” she said. “They have eight vents, but when they’ve had several big weeks ... including this last weekend, where ICU is full, it does make things complicated having to put four people on ventilators. I know we have more, but that is definitely concerning.”

Drees urges people to take as many precautions as possible, to “socially distance, wash your hands, don’t go to gatherings, stay with your household members.”

If symptomatic, Drees said, people should stay home and get a test, even if the symptoms are what someone would get with a normal allergy.

“I say that because even in my own case I had a stuffy nose, I would have never imagined that it would have been COVID, I tested positive off of a stuffy nose,” she said. “Please, I'd really like for us to continue to preach that people be vigilant and take as many precautions as possible.”

People can’t continue living like COVID-19 isn’t here, Drees said. There’s not a light at the end of the tunnel yet, so people need to take precautions for themselves and others.

“The more that we continue to have this spread, it's going to be more deaths and it's going to be more positives in our community,” she said.

Drees also gave an update on the COVID-19 cases at the jail.

There are 16 positive inmates at the last count, and officials are waiting for the final number from the surveillance testing that was completed last week, Drees said. Several sheriff’s department employees also tested positive.

The Finney County Jail in Garden City is listed on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s case clusters list for correctional facilities on Oct. 14 with a total of 22 positive cases. An updated list comes out each Wednesday.