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Positive, active cases of COVID-19 on the rise in Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
The coronavirus disease is still making itself known, more so in Pratt than before as numbers of positive, active cases rise.

While numbers may not lie, they can be confusing, especially when it comes to tracking positive cases of the novel coronavirus. Last Friday, Pratt County Health Department reported 12 active, positive cases of COVID-19, with a total 114 positive cases, 102 recovered and 6 hospitalizations. By Monday, October 26 at noon, those numbers were up to 16 active, positive cases, 123 total positive cases, 107 recovered and still 6 hospitalizations.

"The numbers are constantly changing," said Pratt County Health Director Darcie Van Der Vyver. "I'm actually surprised we are staying as low as we are for as long as we have, because we are doing a lot more testing now, and that means we will identify a lot more positive cases quickly."

Van Der Vyver said that by 2:20 p.m. on Monday, the number of active cases increased to 18 as additional numbers came in from testing results.

"None of the current, active cases are school-age children, so we do not anticipate any school closings because of positive levels," she said. "The active cases are all adult cases right now, and they all have manageable symptoms at this time."

According to Van Der Vyver, the increased number of cases could be attributed to the fact that is it now cold and flu season and there are symptoms similar to the coronavirus that get people worried.

"People are on the high-end alert right now," she said. "We are seeing more requests for tests through the hospital and here at the health department, but we do not test for the flu, we only rule out COVID-19 here."

Van Der Vyver said she meets daily with school, medical, county and city officials for an online discussion of current numbers, new regulations, and upcoming changes related to the ever-changing situation.

"We are all following the Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations for degrees of contact monitoring," she said. "Right now, positive cases quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or date of test if asymptomatic. First degree contacts quarantine 14 days from last contact with a positive case if they are within 6 feet for 10 consecutive minutes. Second degree contacts are not subject to quarantine but should monitor themselves for symptoms, because if a first-degree contact would develop symptoms during their 14-day quarantine (they would be a presumed positive), then the second-degrees would become first-degree contacts and would then need to quarantine. We do not count presumed positives in our count, only those who actually tested positive."

Van Der Vyver said the county health department was diligent in contacting positive individuals to make a report about whom they were around when their COVID-19 symptoms started.

"If a positive case refuses to list their contacts, we then instruct them to notify their own close contacts during the two days prior to when their symptoms started," she said. "Some people get quite upset with us for simply doing our job."

Van DerVyver said the KDHE website is still the best place to go for up-to-date information about the disease and the current uptick in spread numbers at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/DocumentCenter/View/134/Isolation--Quarantine-Guidance-and-FAQs-PDF---10-21-20

"We still recommend that if you have any symptoms, stay home," Van Der Vyver said. "And if you are not sick, you can be smart about going out. Use hand sanitizer, wear your mask, practice social distancing, and always, always wash your hands. Those things have not changed."

According to October 24 KDHE statistics, this week in Pratt County there are four new COVID-19 cases in the 45-54 years age group, two new cases in 35-44, and one new case each in 25-34, 55-64 and 75-84 years of age.

Dr. Eric Clarkson with Pratt Regional Medical Center said Monday that Pratt County was now at a 14.84 percent positivity rate. Kiowa County is at 36.76 percent.

"I can tell from the positives we've already called from our clinic this morning, these numbers will be higher next week," he said. "I just want people to be aware and take care that their actions don't put others at risk."