Several partner organizations in Cowley County will roll out a new campaign on Monday dubbed, “Crushing COVID in Cowley County.” 

The mission is to raise community awareness of the need to follow CDC guidelines now more than ever to help “flatten the curve” and reduce community transmission of COVID-19, according to a press release issued by the City-Cowley County Health Department on Friday.

The campaign will include multilingual posters, social-media graphics, radio and print advertising. More details will be released Monday. The county had 1,267 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of noon Friday, with 373 active cases since Nov. 1, the release stated.

The health department alone has tested 500 people for the virus in just the past week.

“With our cases dramatically increasing and with community spread at an all time high in Cowley County, the time is now for everyone to step up and do their part so we can once again get this pandemic under control in our county,” the release stated.

Public Health Officer Thomas Langer said the main theme of the campaign is that it’s up to individuals to take action.

“We cannot do this alone, and we cannot do this just with mandates,” Langer  said. “We need each and every member of the Cowley County community to voluntarily do their part to slow the spread of COVID. Only together can we put our kids back in school classrooms, keep our businesses open, and prevent our local and regional hospitals from overflowing; not to mention protect our vulnerable neighbors from severe disease or even death.” 

There have been at least 19 deaths in the county linked to the virus. Langer said as of Friday there were more than 15 local hospitalizations for COVID-19, and added that he was told the ERs are busy. 

An elderly woman in the county died Thursday related to the virus, he said, bringing total deaths in the county to 19. 

Langer shared his frustration that several people with symptoms have called to be tested but back out when they learn they must quarantine. He also get calls from residents information him of people who have tested and should be in quarantine but are out in public.

“I point this out as we embark on a campaign to promote personal responsibility throughout the community,” Langer said. “There is no cure, no magic pill,  no smoke or mirrors that will make this COVID-19 outbreak vanish.  We must change our behavior.”

The entities involved in the campaign are the cities of Arkansas City and Winfield, the health department, the Community Health Center in Cowley County, Cowley County, Cowley County Emergency Communications, Cowley County Emergency Management, Cowley First, Legacy Regional Community Foundation, RISE Cowley, South Central Kansas Medical Center, USD 465 in Winfield, USD 470 in Arkansas City, William Newton Hospital, Cowley College, and the Winfield and Arkansas City area chambers of commerce. 

Langer reminded people to stay home when sick, avoid crowds as much as possible and socially distance, wash hands frequently and above all wear a mask, face shield or face covering when you have to be around others.

“These simple steps will make all of the difference,” Langer said. “Vaccines are on the way and we need to get through this winter together, as a community, so that we can continue our economic and social recovery.”

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