Health officials in Saline County say they have cause for concern because new cases of COVID and hospitalizations are on the rise while vaccine numbers are flat.
According to the Saline County Health Department, new cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again, and particularly worrisome is that variants of the virus and hospitalizations are climbing quickly, while the number of vaccinated people in Saline County is stagnating.
There have been 40 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last week. There are 84 cases currently active. Currently, five people require hospitalization at Salina Regional for COVID-19.
At least 21,140 people, about 39 percent of Saline County, have been vaccinated. The vaccination number a week ago was 20,972.
The agency is aware of a reporting issue with federal providers like CVS, the VA, and others who are not reporting their vaccination numbers at the state level. They are awaiting a fix on the federal level.
Transmission is what allows for mutation. The longer a virus circulates among a population, the more likely it is to mutate and overcome current medical and non-medical interventions. Prevention of variant strains of the virus is of the utmost importance.
Due to the recent abrupt rise of new cases, Saline County began sending all positive COVID-19 PCR samples to be sequenced for variants last week. Currently, at least 20 people in Saline County have tested positive for a variant of the virus, an increase of seven over the last week.
Previously, once a sample tested positive, an investigation would determine whether or not the sample warranted further testing. Unusual circumstances, like the person having had the virus previously, being fully vaccinated, or seeing multiple cases in a short amount of time, would warrant further testing if possible.
The Delta variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain in Kansas and the surrounding states, specifically Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. This variant is substantially more transmissible, up to 60 percent more than the previous U.K. (Alpha) variant, and more dangerous.
Vaccines provide a significant level of protection against variants. Research has shown vaccinated persons are less likely to contract the virus and less likely to require hospitalization if they do.