The number of coronavirus cases in Cowley County soared past the 1,000 mark over the weekend, with 115 cases added since Friday.
Local cases have skyrocketed by 82 percent since Nov. 2, when the number was 608, according to state health officials. Monday the total hit 1,104 infections since the pandemic began, which includes inmate cases at Winfield Correctional Facility.
There were 238 active cases as of Monday, not including any inmate cases, according to Thomas Langer, the county’s public health officer.
“The rate is expected to continue to climb,” he stated in an email. “We need the people of Cowley County to understand that COVID-19 is widespread in the community. Everyone must take personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus.”
Langer emphasized staying home if feeling ill, wearing a mask in public, social distancing as a must, and frequent hand washing.
Cowley County commissioners will consider approving a COVID-19 awareness proclamation at their Tuesday night meeting at the courthouse.
The proclamation will not be written as an ordinance but will be educational, acknowledging the virus and reminding the public of their responsibilities in taking care of themselves, their families and the community, county administrator Lucas Goff said.
At least two more virus-related deaths had occurred in the county, Langer confirmed, both men between 35 and 60 years old in Arkansas City.
That means the local death toll has reached at least 16, with six of the fatalities reported within the past week.
“The mortality number is going to climb and climb because of what’s going on right now,” Langer warned.
At the City-Cowley County Health Department, about 30 percent of people being tested are coming up positive, he said. The spread probably won’t slow down any time soon because people are testing positive who were exposed two weeks ago.
Langer reiterated Monday that he does not have plans to impose any more restrictions; that people know what to do and should take personal responsibility.
“I don’t have the power to make people do anything,” he said.
In responding to a question about enforcement, however, he later said that if the pandemic reaching a tipping point some stronger measures have to be considered.
Kansas as a whole reported another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases.
The state Department of Health and Environment added 7,234 confirmed and probable cases since Friday to the state’s total for the pandemic, increasing it 6.3 percent to 122,741.
In south-central Kansas, the rampant virus spread reached totals of 600 in Sumner County, 2,535 in Butler County, 45 in Chautauqua County, 33 in Elk County and 21,255 in Sedgwick County.
To the south, Kay County, Okla., on Monday stood at 1,289 cases with 20 deaths and 976 recoveries, according to state health officials there. Most of the cases and deaths have occurred in Ponca City, which stood at 911 infections, 13 deaths and 713 recoveries. Newkirk had 120 cases with one death and 85 recoveries.
In Kansas, the state health department also reported another 10 COVID-19-related deaths over three days, bringing the total to 1,266 since the pandemic reached the state in early March.
The state had a record average of 2,741 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, or 7.4 percent higher than the previous high of 2,553 cases per day for the seven days ending Friday. The health department has issued five reports updating coronavirus numbers over the past 11 days, and each one has shown a record seven-day average.
The state reported 19,188 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days. That’s the equivalent of one in every 152 residents testing positive.
The state also averaged a record 42 new COVID-19-related hospitalizations for the seven days ending Monday, beating the previous high of 38, set for the seven days ending Wednesday. The health department reported 104 new hospitalizations since Friday, to bring the pandemic total to 4,431.