As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Lyon County, the Flint Hills Community Health Center and department of health struggle to keep up.
“We are almost to the number of cases we had in April, where I think our highest was one hundred ninety-seven (197) cases,” Renee Hivley, community health officer at the FHCHC. “If you look at what our community was doing at that point a lot of those cases were centered around manufacturing…school was out, and only essential businesses were open. Restaurants were closed, bars were closed, so the land looked a lot different than it does now.”
As the total cases in Lyon County reach 1,363 according to data from the Center for Disease Control, Hivley said active cases are about the same as they were in April.
“I am worried that we are going to continue to see our cases rise for quite some time until we can get a handle on this,” Hivley said. “I would recommend a county wide mask mandate, reducing our mass gatherings to forty-five (45), social distancing and hand hygiene obviously but I think we need to address bars for one."
According to Hivley, over Halloween weekend the department received many calls of unsafe, mass gatherings, particularly in the bars.
“Yesterday I was inundated with complaints for over the weekend activities that were going on,” Hivley said. “I got a complaint from a local bar. The owner of the bar and the help were in masks but there were only a handful of people with masks and it was packed. So we will probably see a cluster associated with that (in seven to fourteen days) which will probably affect a lot of those university students.”
With election night now over, Lyon County Election officer Tammy Vopat said that Hivley and the department of state had worked closely with them to ensure all COVID-19 precautions were taken at polling locations. Including the distribution of masks, sanitizer and proper cleaning supplies for ballot machines.
“In a way we made her an honorary member of the health department,” Hivley said.
While drive through testing and free or reduced tests continue at the health clinic, Hivley said members of the Kansas National Guard were removed from their post as drive-thru clinic workers nearly 15 days earlier than intended.
“Our national guard here were…pulled today and put into quarantine so we have really been struggling with testing,” Hivley said. “So we have to go to plan two in our testing lanes which will have to be handled internally as we move staff around.”
As outbreaks continue in congregate student housing Hivley said students should be weary.
“Anytime you have that many people living so close together you are bound to see the disease spread,” Hivley said. “You can have all the personal responsibility in the world, but it only takes one person to start that chain reaction.”