Ellis Co. cases down; drive-thru vaxxing Saturday

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
COVID-19 art

For the first time, the number of COVID-19 cases in Ellis County is consistently tracking extremely low over time, according to county health administrator Jason Kennedy.

That’s at the same time nearly 10,000 people in the county have been vaccinated against the virus.

And plans call for a large-scale vaccine drive-thru in Hays on Saturday.

“For the first time in what feels like forever, for myself and for everybody else,” said Kennedy on Monday evening to the Ellis County Commissioners, “we truly just have good news to report for Ellis County.”

The seven-day average has been at or below five cases daily. That also was the threshold for the city of Hays mask mandate to expire, which it did March 10, he reminded.

“But it’s been at or below five now for 44 consecutive days,” Kennedy said. “We’ve actually had 26 consecutive days at or below one on our seven-day average, and we’re at 14 days at or below zero, as far as the seven-day average goes.” 

Kennedy said testing has fallen off some in the last week, a trend he expects to continue.

“I don’t know if it’s the holidays or whatever, but I think we’ll continue to see that somewhat trend down as we also see cases going with it,” he said.

Speaking at the regular meeting of the county commission in the Ellis County Administrative Center, Kennedy said the health department and its community partners have administered 7,000 first doses so far through their programs, including the weekly vaccine clinic at the former Gordmans at Big Creek Crossing Mall.

Another 3,700 first doses have been given out in Ellis County by Hays pharmacies, as well as area pharmacies that have come into the county, and through HaysMed.

“So that brings us up to 9,700, around 10,000 first doses total, in our community, which is good,” Kennedy said. “That puts us really at the upper tier statewide as far as doses administered per capita.”

Anyone still needing a vaccine can sign up for an appointment through the Ellis County Health Department’s web site, ellisco.net, as well as on the signup sites for Walmart, Dillons or Walgreens. Hays Public Library will assist anyone with signup by appointment calling 785-625-9014, or drop-in during normal hours.

On Saturday, the health department and HaysMed are hosting a mass drive-thru vaccine clinic in the parking lot of the hospital. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available first come-first serve, starting at 9 a.m.

“We encourage anyone that wants to receive the Johnson & Johnson to come out and be a part of that,” said Kennedy.

The health department is working on plans with Fort Hays State University to do a similar type of open-scheduling vaccine for the campus population before students and faculty leave for summer break, he said.

“We have plenty of availability,” Kennedy said. “Now we just need to encourage people to come in and get it. … We really encourage them to be vaccinated wherever it’s convenient for them.”