COVID-19 spreads in 2 Kansas counties & kills in 1; Local health experts call for masks even if vaccinated


FILE – In this March 31, 2021, file photo, students wear masks as they wait in line for lunch at Wyandotte County High School in Kansas City, Kan. Johnson County District Judge David Hauber, in Kansas’ most populous county, has struck down as unconstitutional a state law requiring unusually speedy legal hearings for people challenging mask requirements and other COVID restrictions. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

RILEY COUNTY (KSNT) – More Kansans have died from COVID-19 recently, and health officials said Wednesday that the virus is making a comeback in two counties.

Riley County

The Riley County Health Department stressed that it needs locals to get the vaccine, as severe illness from the virus claimed the lives of three people in the span of four days:

  • An unvaccinated 49-year-old man tested positive on July 13, and died Monday at Stormont Vail in Topeka.
  • An unvaccinated 72-year-old woman tested positive on July 16, and died Friday at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan.
  • A vaccinated 90-year-old man tested positive on July 12, and died Sunday at St. Francis Hospital in Topeka.

RCHD said 77 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as Delta variant in the county, and since July 28, it has found 104 new COVID-19 cases. Director Julie Gibbs shared insight on what could be causing the uptick once again.

“Current research shows fully vaccinated individuals represent a small amount of transmission and, in most cases, are protected from severe illness due to COVID-19. They could potentially still be asymptomatic and spread the virus, so it is important individuals wear a mask when in indoor public spaces and practice social distancing when possible.”

Julie Gibbs

The message for how to stop the COVID-19 comeback remains the same from Gibbs: vaccination.

“We are urging individuals who are not vaccinated to please get vaccinated. We have several clinics scheduled over the coming days and weeks, including this weekend at the Everybody Counts event at the Douglass Center in Manhattan. With the hospital filling up and the number of positive cases continuing to increase in Riley County it is important that we all do our part.”

Julie Gibbs

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Riley County’s running total of cases now adds up to 7,142.

Geary County

Geary County Health Department staff have strongly encouraged the local school district, USD 475, to make masks required in school as 87 teens and children under 17 have tested positive for COVID-19 in the area. The spike in young cases came through the months of June and July. The Delta variant of the virus is also creeping into the area, as Geary County Emergency Services reported 61 new cases of it in July, with 22 of those contracting it being teens and children younger than 17.

The Health Department strongly encouraged the implementation of a mask requirement based on current and historic statistics concerning COVID-19… With the ongoing, close contact that occurs in school, it is critical to keep the students and staff safe through the use of masks, as well as other practices, such as vaccination, handwashing, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and testing

Geary County Emergency Management

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked people to wear masks indoors, even if they are vaccinated, over concerns about the increasing presence of the Delta variant. So far, no statewide mask requirement has gone out beyond state property. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced July 28 that she would make masks mandatory for employees and visitors in counties marked as hotspots in the state.

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