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Overall COVID-19 trend continues in right direction for Sedgwick County, despite recent spike

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Despite a recent jump, the latest COVID-19 numbers in Sedgwick County show an overall trend in the right direction when it comes to the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests.

Friday (Sept. 18), the Sedgwick County COVID-19 dashboard showed the percentage of tests coming back positive at below five percent for the first time since late June. The most recent number reported Monday, shows the percentage of positive tests jumping from 4.9 percent Friday to 7.8 percent. The latest report comes exactly two weeks (14 days) after Labor Day and 12 or 13 days since the first day for several school districts including Wichita Public Schools.

The percent-positive-test number is important for school districts and decisions regarding in-person versus remote learning, as well as extracurricular activities. Despite the most recent jump of nearly 3 percent, Sedgwick County health officials voiced overall optimism Monday, saying the numbers have been trending in the right direction for about a month.

“You know, they are increasing a little bit, but we thought that might happen after Labor Day,” Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne said.

While the increase was expected, Byrne said what’s important is to keep that increase from reversing the overall trend.

“The holiday, you know school’s starting and sports and all that,” she said, citing reasons for the recent jump of positive cases in Sedgwick County. “But yes, I think it shows that the order is working. That was, you know, difficult, but the order has made a difference.”

The public health order in Sedgwick County currently calls for mask-wearing in public and has a midnight curfew in place for bars and nightclubs.

When looking at the effectiveness of the order and overall numbers for Sedgwick County, Byrne said the county is taking a close look at where cases are happening, looking at the total percentage of positive cases, and also looking at numbers without isolated clusters such as nursing homes and the Sedgwick County Jail.

Community cases take out clusters like the jail and long-term care facilities, but do include “other types of clusters” involving people out in the community, including churches or various businesses, Byrne explained.

She said she knows many believe the numbers could be mispresented without the isolated clusters like nursing homes and the jail.

“We’re aware that the staff come and go, they’re one variable, as well as the correction staff,” Byrne said. “But you know, what we want to see, what (Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns) wants to see, is, ‘what is making a difference as far as the order?’ And so, that’s why the nursing homes aren’t in there, and the jails.”

Byrne also said we’re not out of the woods yet with COVID-19 in Sedgwick County because allergies, for many, are getting worse and flu season is approaching. These are among factors that can compromise your immune system and make you more vulnerable to COVID-19. She said if people in Sedgwick County keep wearing masks in public and social distancing, the numbers will continue to trend downward.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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