Ellis County gets 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
COVID-19 art

Another 500 people living or working in Ellis County will get their COVID-19 vaccinations this week.

That's how many doses arrived this week from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, according to Ellis County Health Services director Jason Kennedy. KDHE is distributing vaccine dispatched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The county vaccination clinic is held weekly at the former Gordmans in the Big Creek Crossing mall. The clinic started for the public in earnest on Jan. 26 with 300 doses from the CDC, funneled through the KDHE. That was followed last week by 400 doses. The shots are administered by appointment on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to those who have signed up and meet Gov. Laura Kelly's Phase 2 criteria. 

Mobile lab finds a positive case

Meanwhile, the health department reported late Monday that KDHE identified one COVID-19 case through Friday's mobile lab testing at Fort Hays State University.

Medical staff completed 196 tests and identified one new positive case of COVID-19, according to a news release from the Ellis County Health Department, FHSU and KDHE.

The mobile lab and an outbreak response team were set up on Friday after an FHSU student athlete on Feb. 3 was identified as positive for the more contagious UK variant.

The person testing positive at Friday's mobile lab had no contact with the FHSU student-athlete, according to the release.

"This individual was contacted and tested again by Ellis County Health Department staff on February 6," said the release, "and the specimen from this test is currently being analyzed by the KDHE lab in Topeka."

The student-athlete with the UK variant, who has since recovered, according to an FHSU spokesman last week, was first tested Jan. 27 during FHSU’s weekly surveillance testing of student-athletes, coaches, and support staff.

On Feb. 3, KDHE identified the UK variant through genome sequence testing. There were no new cases of COVID-19 discovered through COVID-19 testing of contacts with the athlete, the release said.

“The speed at which we were able to respond and quickly test, combined with the partnership shown by the community, was excellent," said KDHE Secretary and physician Lee Norman in the release. "However, we must remain vigilant. Now is not the time to relax the public health recommendations we know are proven to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance.”

New cases slightly up

The county health department also reported Monday that there were 16 new cases of the virus among county residents. That put the seven-day average of new cases per day at eight. There are 89 active cases in Ellis County, with five hospitalizations. The percent of positives is 15.2% and the seven-day average percent of positives is 9.4%, according to the county website.

The Ellis County Health Department is offering free COVID-19 testing at Big Creek Crossing Mall in Hays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Saturday.

FHSU’s Student Health Center conducts weekly surveillance testing with student and employee groups on campus. The center offers free testing for anyone on campus experiencing coronavirus symptoms, the release said.