TOPEKA (AP) — A Kansas health advisor says the coronavirus pandemic is starting to worsen in Kansas again as families prepare to gather over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Public health advisor Marci Nielsen blames less mask use and more indoor gatherings, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

“The status of COVID in Kansas, you have no doubt heard, you see that the cases are ticking up,” Nielsen said. “We are now surpassing 1,000 per day in Kansas. That causes a little bit of concern.”

In Cowley County new cases remain relatively high but dropped noticeable in the past seven days. State health officials reported 148 cases from Nov. 18-24. There were 210 cases between Nov. 11-17. Deaths remained at 128.

William Newton Hospital spokesperson Sarah Johnson said Monday there were no inpatient COVID cases, but the facility was seeing higher COVID-related patients in its emergency room, and as a result more transfers to other hospitals.

“It remains challenging to transfer patients to other hospitals when higher levels of care are needed,” she said. “We are adjusting staffing levels in the ER to provide additional coverage in the isolation unit.”

Statewide

Nielsen told the governor’s Safer Classrooms Workgroup on Tuesday that the state’s vaccination rate for youth ages 12-17 has consistently been about seven percentage points below the national rate.

Federal data released Tuesday indicates that about 54 percent of the 12-17 age group in Kansas has gotten at least one dose. More than 28,000 children aged 5-11 have gotten a first shot in Kansas, or just over 10 percent of the age group’s population. That’s slightly below the national average.

Fifty-four percent of all Kansans are fully vaccinated, which puts Kansas in the bottom half of all states and territories.

In Cowley County, 43.5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated with 49.7 percent receiving at least one dose.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment data show that of recent outbreaks at schools, 74 percent were in districts that did not require masks.

CourierTraveler Publisher David A. Seaton contributed to this report.

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