Ellis County sees sharp drop in COVID-19 disease

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
COVID-19 art

Ellis County continues to record a steep drop in COVID-19 cases, as the residents also log one year of living under a pandemic.

Cases have declined precipitously since Nov. 23, 2020 according to the county’s health services director Jason Kennedy.

“Actually the last five days we’ve had seven-day average cases of less than five, which is good,” said Kennedy during an update to the Ellis County Commission at its regular Monday meeting in the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main.

Demonstrating with graphs the course of the disease in Ellis County in recent months, Kennedy pointed out the relationship between testing and cases, as it’s unfolded locally.

“As you look at the pandemic, as tests have gone up, cases have gone up. And as tests have gone down, cases have gone down,” Kennedy said. “We know that. Our percentage positive has been fairly consistent. More tests, more cases.”

That changed Nov. 23, Kennedy said, even as testing in the county has stayed consistent and fairly high, including some of the highest days of testing ever.

“For the first time, since this pandemic started, Ellis County sees a precipitous decline in its percent of positive, which means less illness in the community, starting on the 23rd,” Kennedy said. “The fact is, is that as our tests have stayed high, our cases have stayed low. That is good news. As we go through the spring and the summer, less and less sickness in our community.”

With cases low, the milder weather, and the vaccine, he said, it’s a good time for people to get outdoors.

“It’ll just be good for your mental health, your physical health,” he said.

Flood at the clinic

So far, the county’s vaccine clinic has given out around 3,000 frontline doses, and about 1,000 second doses, he reported. 

This week the clinic has 500 doses from the federal government funneled through the state of Kansas. Those are being administered by appointment at the former Gordmans in Big Creek Crossing mall on Vine Street and will be all gone by the end of the day Wednesday, he said.

One of the few hiccups in the process was a broken pipe during the extreme cold the week of Feb. 15 that flooded the clinic, with water running out the front door of the building, Kennedy said.

But Hays Fire Department, Ellis County EMS, county maintenance employees and others kept the clinic running as scheduled.

“It was a phenomenal community effort. We condensed the entire clinic into one half of the building,” said Kennedy. “We had just everybody out there pushing. We were pushing waves of water out this side, as we were pushing waves of people in this side to get vaccines.”

Back to life

Commissioner Dean Haselhorst asked Kennedy what is the county’s average per day.

For the last two weeks, Kennedy replied, the county has been averaging six to three cases a day. He doesn’t anticipate a change in that, given more vaccine and better weather.

“People are living life, they’re going out there and doing things, we understand that, they’re moving back toward some level of normalcy, and it’s a good time to do that,” said Kennedy. “Cases are low, we want to keep them low, but we also understand that people need to move forward. So as we go through spring, people still need to be somewhat smart.”