COVID-19 cases multiply in Ellis Co., northwest Kansas

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News

The number of COVID-19 cases so far in Ellis County is up to 35 now.

That’s a jump of five from Monday, when the county stood at 30 total cases.

Ellis County has 10 active cases, according to a news release Wednesday from Ellis County Health Department director Jason Kennedy. There are 25 recovered cases.

There were seven active cases in Ellis County as of Monday, and 23 recovered.

“The positive cases are symptomatic and in isolation,” said the release from Kennedy.

The 35 number includes both active and recovered cases.

In its latest release, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday reported that Kansas has had 17,618 cases, with 1,269 hospitalized and 282 people dying from the virus. There have now been 190,864 negative tests.

Those numbers are up from KDHE’s Monday report that the state has had 16,901 cases from 98 counties, with 1,235 hospitalizations and 280 deaths. There had been 185,318 negative tests at that time.

Graham County VBS case

Graham County on Wednesday reported its third COVID-19 case, that one related to Morland Vacation Bible School in Morland on Friday, July 3.

Due to the exposure of all the kids at the event, the health department in Hill City is asking all attendees of the Friday morning session to self-quarantine for 14 days until noon July 17.

The department spent Tuesday evening and night doing contact tracing to the dozens of kids, teens and adults affected, said a health department statement posted to Facebook.

“Tonight we were able to get a list of attendees of VBS. So a little after 11 tonight, we stopped making contacts with families needing to quarantine kiddos,” the statement said. “We did our best to make calls, answer messages and answer parents’ questions and concerns.”

“We will start again bright and early in the morning. If you haven’t been contacted yet, and you attended VBS on Friday, please contact our office if you don’t hear from us first. I would guess we have 15 or 20 to contact yet,” the statement said.

Kids affected were told they are not able to attend sporting events, day care, swimming or summer school and must remain out of public places.

“They are allowed to run about in the yard, ride bikes and do yard work and dishes,” said the statement.

On Tuesday, the Phillips County Health Department confirmed the first two known deaths of people from COVID-19 in Phillips County.

Both deaths are related to an earlier reported outbreak among staff and residents at the 36-bed skilled nursing home, Logan Manor. Testing was June 29.

An 87-year-old male passed away in the early hours on Thursday at Logan Manor.

A 47-year-old male passed away at Hays Medical Center following hospitalization that began July 5.

The health department said close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for symptoms by the Phillips County Health Department staff.

“It is with great regret that we report our first deaths related to the novel coronavirus. We offer our condolences to the families of these individuals along with prayers for all those affected by these deaths,” said Pete Rogers, Phillips County health officer, in the statement.

The health department has reported that 17 residents of Logan Manor and eight staff members have tested positive in the outbreak.

Night club dance outbreak

Also in Graham County, cases from a Friday, June 20, dance at Cowboy Junction dance and night club in Hill City continue to mount.

The Trego County Health Department on Tuesday confirmed its second case of COVID-19 in the county.

“The case is related to the multi-county outbreak from a dance in Graham County on June 20th,” said a post to Facebook, noting the person is in home isolation.

“Trego County Health Department has notified the people who have come into close contact with the positive individual while infectious, and will continue to monitor them closely for symptoms,” the statement said.

At least one Rooks County case and two Sheridan County cases have also been discovered in people who attended the dance.

New case in Rooks County

The Rooks County Health Department late Monday reported on its Facebook page that the county has a ninth case of COVID-19. The person is at home in isolation, the statement said.

Referencing the June 20 Ray Gerver dance at Cowboy Junction, the post said, “The case is related to the multi-county outbreak.”

“Rooks County local and public health officials continue to work together to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Rooks County health officer Jen Brull said in the statement. “It is our main priority to keep Rooks County citizens healthy and safe.”

Health department officials in each of the counties are recommending social distancing, wearing masks in public where social distancing is not likely, limiting the gathering of large groups, using good hygiene practices, limiting travel to essential needs, not traveling to hot spots and staying home when feeling ill.