The fall surge of the COVID-19 virus continued during the past week, with nearly 200 new cases and another death reported in Cowley County.

The seven-day total ending Nov. 18 for new cases was 195, an increase of nine (186) from the previous week, according to state health officials.

The percentage of tests that came back positive for the virus jumped to 13.84 compared to 7.3 last week, according to the City-Cowley County Health Department.

The latest fatality is a man in his 60s and brings the pandemic total death toll to 128.

“The individual passed in a hospital outside of Cowley County, and also had known pre-existing conditions which would have been considered high risk,” Public Health Officer Thomas Langer said. “The person was prominent in the Winfield community.”

In his weekly COVID-19 report, Langer said the virus continues to affect children the most, with more than 57 percent of new cases occurring in ages 0-18. This has prompted some school closures.

The Arkansas City District decided to start Thanksgiving break early (Friday) in hopes that illness rates will decline among students and staff when they return Nov. 29. The latest surge could go on for a while.

“All data continues to support a projection that the current spread in the school aged population will continue for a period of at least six to eight more weeks,” Langer stated. “There have been some reports of prolonged illness in families and a few cases have been quite severe. Thankfully there are no reports locally of hospitalizations of children due to COVID-19 to this point in time.”

SCK Health CEO Jeff Bowman said they had seen an increase in positive COVID tests the past two weeks but not a corresponding increase in hospitalizations. COVID hit the Arkansas City Public Library. Two of nine employees tested positive, prompting the library to close at 3 p.m. this past week. The employees are expected to be back Monday and regular hours should resume.

Langer also provided information on vaccines. The health department can provide booster doses for all people older than 18 who were previously vaccinated. The FDA has approved booster doses for all adults. The department also can provide the Pfizer mRNA vaccine to children ages 5 to 12.

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