Delta variant a concern weeks before schools reopen


FILE – In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID19, elementary school students use hand sanitizer before entering school for classes in Godley, Texas. As schools reopen around the country, their ability to quickly identify and contain coronavirus outbreaks before they get out of hand is about to be put to the test. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly is pinning Kansas’ hopes of keeping the COVID-19 delta variant in check on more people getting inoculated because it is spreading rapidly among the unvaccinated.

The Shawnee County Health Department issued a statement Thursday stating cases of Covid-19, driven largely by the Delta variant, are rising dramatically, and urging residents to get the vaccine.

Kelly acknowledged Thursday that there’s not enough time before K-12 schools resume classes in mid-August to get all students ages 12 and older fully vaccinated.

State law only requires schools to enforce vaccinations that are listed by the state health secretary. The coronavirus vaccine is not on that list, but state health officials are encouraging people that are eligible to get the vaccine, especially as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.

The percent of positive cases indicates the virus is spreading freely through Shawnee County.

Kelly added that the state will focus on giving at least the first of two doses to as many as of them as possible.

The SCHD has seen outbreaks in a variety of congregate settings, including long-term facilities, group living, camps and correctional facilities. Concerns over masks being worn in schools has already started to become a topic of discussion as the Delta variant is affecting younger people.

Kelley called more vaccinations the only thing that’s going to stop the fast-spreading delta variant.

SCHD is advising people in groups to wear masks to protect children and unvaccinated adults.

Currently, only 44% of residents in Shawnee County have completed their vaccines.

The number of confirmed delta variant cases in Kansas has tripled this month, to more than 1,100.

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