Finney County Commission hears COVID-19 update

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, speaks to the Finney County Commission Nov. 2 during a meeting. [MEGHAN FLYNN/GARDEN CITY TELEGRAM]

COVID-19 positivity rates within Finney County have increased and decreased in the past month.

Colleen Dress, Finney County Health Department director, updated the Finney County Commission on the state of COVID-19 within the county at Monday's regular commission meeting.

In the county, from Nov. 22-28 a total of 223 cases for a positivity rate of 48%. The positivity rate increased to 65%, with a total of 297 cases, for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, but decreased to 41%, with 175 positive cases, the week of Dec. 6-12.

The decrease from 65% to 41% is significant, Drees said. There was also a significant decrease in testing in the last several weeks as well.

"We are currently monitoring that. We are looking at all sites in Finney County of who has been tested recently," she said.

COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in the county, Drees said. The health department is slated to receive vaccines this week, and St. Catherine Hospital received a shipment of vaccines last week.

This week they will begin vaccinating all health care and front-line workers, Drees said. Health department workers and EMS will get the first dosing before going to health care workers and all medical clinics that actively see patients and potentially COVID-19-positive or infectious patients and then moving on to home health.

"We are following the vaccination plan that is released by KDHE and the state along the CDC and the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices)," she said. "They released a pretty comprehensive plan that provides that guidance to health departments on how to administrator the vaccines. We'll be following that."

Drees said some of the categories in the vaccination plan are very broad, so they are launching news releases on their website, the COVID-19 hub and their social media pages to get the word out as they move through them.

The health department is putting together a list of contacts so staff can contact businesses directly to receive their enrollment information of their employees to then vaccinate them, Drees said. 

"We're looking at doing on-site for those employers and drive up methods of vaccination over at the health department," she said.

Drees said it's still unclear as of now how many vaccine doses they will be receiving as well as "how many we'll be administering here this week or potentially early next week. We're still trying to narrow down those details."

In the event that someone has adverse effects from the vaccine, Drees said, the health department is figuring out the "mechanism of monitoring people" for 15 minutes following vaccination.

"If an adverse effect will happen or an allergic reaction will happen within that 15 minutes," she said. "The 15 minutes after that first vaccine is most, the highest chance of it happening right then."

Also the health department has ordered additional supplies of epinephrine so that more doses are on hand in the event that someone has a bad reaction.

In other business, the county approved 10 Agency Operational Relief grant applications, which are through SPARK funding, for a total of $425,982.97.

The agencies that received funding are Financial Avenues Inc., City On A Hill, Kanza Society Inc., Finney County Convention & Visitor's Bureau, Finney County Economic Development Corporation, Ranch House Senior Living, Heartland Oncology LLC, Homestead of Garden City, Caregivers of Garden City and Gravity Wellness.