COVID-19 spike, more variant cases, less vaccinations; What’s next for Kansas?

Coronavirus

TOPEKA, (KSNT) — States across the U.S., including Kansas, are seeing an increase in coronavirus cases.

Since Friday, the state has seen 802 new cases and 31 hospitalizations. With a rise in cases, and concerns that the vaccination rate has reached a “plateau,” the state is encouraging people to take the necessary precautions. However, whether stricter restrictions will be considered is still unknown.

When asked about how the state is planning to prepare for a surge in cases, a spokesperson for Governor Laura Kelly’s office sent the following statement to KSNT’s Capitol Bureau Tuesday.

“As we learn more about the Delta variant and study current COVID-19 trends, the vast majority of individuals who are dying are unvaccinated. We continue to strongly urge people to get vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, the CDC recommends that you wear a mask in public, stay home if you feel ill, and practice social distancing.”

GOVERNOR LAURA KELLY’S OFFICE

Kansas Health Secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, has said that the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant has contributed to an even greater sense of urgency for people to get vaccinated.

“Hospitalizations are going up, deaths are going up,” Norman said.

State data showed as of Tuesday that 950 Delta variant cases have been reported, catching up with the widely spread U.K. variant. The Delta variant is becoming the dominant variant in the state and across the nation, according to health officials.

The state’s health secretary noted that the viral loads, which measure the amount of a virus in an organism, is higher so it makes it more likely that they’re going to get sicker and more likely that they’re going to spread the illness.

With concerns of the variant spreading, the state has partnered with different counties and community organizations, like Topeka Rescue Mission, to encourage vaccine support and testing.

“We do take the pandemic very seriously. We want to make sure that safety is the number one priority,” said La Manda Broyles, Senior Director of Ministry Operations for Topeka Rescue Mission.

Broyles works with the organization to host community events, providing those that are homeless with free showers and resources. She said through the partnership with the state’s health department, KDHE, and other organizations, her team was able to create a “one-stop-shop” to take care of people’s needs.

Matt Baldwin, Homeless Case Manager for the ministry, said that taking care of your physical and mental health during a pandemic is even more necessary.

“It’s something that our clientele struggle to be able to do on a regular basis,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin and Broyles have taken extra steps to sanitize their mobile showers and keep their working area clean, during the pandemic. They said one of their ultimate goals is to keep people safe.

State health officials are trying to do the same, urging people to get vaccinated, especially as new cases emerge.

Dr. Norman said while there have been rare breakthrough infections among people who are partially or fully vaccinated, those who are infected usually recover quickly. He said unvaccinated people are the most at risk, which is why it’s important for people who are eligible to get vaccinated before school starts.

“It is the unvaccinated people who are in the hospital, having the worst clinical outcome and death. Vaccinated people are pretty much able to avert it.”

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