A welcome decline in positive COVID-19 testing rates in Cowley County will allow at least some spectator attendance at school sporting events.
County Health Officer Thomas Langer said Wednesday that the two-parent rule can now be applied in Cowley County.
Langer said he met with all county school superintendents Wednesday morning. A review of the numbers show the county has been in a level spot for several days.
“I think it’s fine for us to no longer say that there’s no crowds for home games,” he said.
Langer said spectators would be allowed to attend district events in accordance with Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines — permitting two parents or guardians per participant.
Both superintendents in Winfield and Arkansas City said their districts would start allowing fans today.
Langer also said he did not see a problem with Winfield schools bringing back nearly all its students to in-person learning starting next week.
“Each district is going to manage it as they feel is going to be best and I’m supportive of it,” he said.
The virus cases continue to rise, but the rate of increase has slowed.
“That’s a pleasant thing to report,” he said.
According to the most recent statistics, the county has seen 3,016 total infections, 54 new cases since Monday. Langer said while that is still a concern, he has seen a decline in the infection rate during the past week.
“What that means is of the people who are being tested, we are finding fewer of them who have coronavirus at the time they were tested,” he said. “That’s what it means when we say it is declining.”
Langer said that previously, four out of 10 might have tested positive, or 40 percent. The county is now down to about two in 10. Twenty percent is still pretty high, but the infection rate is coming down.
“As long as that continues, we think that’s a very positive trend to have going on,” he said.
Langer said the county has seen 54 virus-related deaths, one more since Monday. He expects to see the number of deaths continue to increase.
Active cases as of Wednesday were 170, two more than Monday. A total of 757 tests were performed in the county in the past 10 days. Langer said that 170 individuals tested positive, with 77 from Arkansas City and 70 from Winfield.
“Those numbers are much, much better than they were 60 days ago,” he said.
Langer also said he would be closely watching everything that happens as the county attempts to return to more normal activities.
“We’re getting really good news on the vaccine front and having more of it become available,” he said. “I hope by the end of the summer, going back to school in the fall will look a lot different than what we’ve got right now.”