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COVID-19 numbers coming down, vaccine effort continues ramping up in Sedgwick County

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 4:50 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - For the first time since June, the 14-day rolling average of positive COVID-19 tests reported by Sedgwick County is below 4 percent. Statistics from Sedgwick County’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the county’s positive test percentage down to 3.8 percent. As of Monday, the county reports 453,569 people being tested for COVID-19. A highlight for local hospitals comes from Wesley Medical Center where, for the first time in several months, the hospital reports having zero employees out with COVID-19.

Encouraged by the latest numbers, hospitals give most of the credit to the vaccine working among the county’s most vulnerable, especially long-term care residents. On the vaccination front, Sedgwick County reports administering about 47,000 shots so far with more than 31,000 being the first of two needed doses for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. The current effort includes a focus to vaccinate people who are 65 and older, adding thousands more from last week when the vaccines were limited to 70-plus. The effort in Phase II of the vaccine rollout plan also emphasizes getting shots to essential and high-contact workers including teachers.

As of Monday, Sedgwick County reported about 7,000 doses administered to the Wichita school district with immediate plans to include more area districts and Heartspring, a nonprofit organization in Wichita that serves children with special needs. With at least 7,000 doses expected this week, Sedgwick County shared plans to open up more appointments for people who are 65 and older.

The impact of the COVID-19 vaccine is already evident in Sedgwick County.

“We hit long-term care facilities. We’re taking care of our elderly because they made up a majority of the hospital population,” Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said. “They give credit to the vaccine. Wesley, they have zero employees out with COVID-19 right now. That’s the first time in months. They give a lot of credit to the vaccine, because they have all been vaccinated.”

For the first time since the start of the pandemic about a year ago, some nursing homes and assisted-living facilities stopped reporting new COVID-19 cases. More than 90 percent of the residents at Homestead of Crestview in east Wichita were vaccinated and the facility has not reported a new case since January.

Homestead Assisted Living facilities have seen zeros cases of COVID among residents that have been vaccinated, so we couldn’t be happier with the impact the vaccine has had on our residents,” said Ali Ellis with Midwest Health, Inc.

Now, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Sedgwick County are progressing toward an end to visitor restrictions as Sedgwick County reports its lowest transmission rate since June.

“It’s been wonderful. Getting vaccinated has allowed us to move forward with in-person visits,” Ellis said. “It’s just been wonderful for our residents. They don’t have the stress and worry they did. Reuniting with family has been a wonderful gift for our residents.”

Monday at the county’s vaccine clinic at Wichita’s former Central Library, the county reported giving 1,731 shots, including 1,234 first shots and 497 second doses. Similar numbers are expected with appointments scheduled Tuesday.

If you’re 65 or older and want to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine through the Sedgwick County Health Department, you can schedule one on Sedgwick County’s website or call 316-660-1029. Local clinics are also stepping up, dedicated to serving the under-represented, and throughout the pandemic, they have been working to get minorities tested, and now vaccinated.

Those interested in signing up with a local clinic can find information to do so in the links below.

Hunter Health Clinic: https://hunterhealth.org/

Guadalupe Clinic: https://guadalupeclinic.org/

GraceMed: https://gracemed.org/patients/appointment

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