Gove County dramatically improves situation after being among hardest hit by COVID-19

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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GOVE COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - In November, COVID-19 hit Gove County as hard as nearly any other county in the U.S. Because of its small population, a couple dozen deaths caused the western Kansas county’s death rate to skyrocket. Fast forward to today, Gove County is leading the state in vaccinations and is far ahead of the national average.

A lot can change in four months. In December, national news outlets called Gove County one of the “deadliest” in America. A handful of deaths in a rural county has a big impact, both on its COVID-19 statistics and its citizens. but now Gove County is statistically one of the safest against COVID-19 in Kansas with 30.3 percent of its people vaccinated. It’s the state’s second highest vaccination rate, following its neighbor, Graham County.

“We’re excited about the idea that we’re on completely different ends of the spectrum than we were four months ago,” said Gove County Medical Center Marketing Manager Wade Richard.

In the early phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Kansas sent many rural counties larger weekly shipments than they were supposed to receive based on population, since Moderna comes in shipments of 100. But even then, Gove County had no problem filling those appointments, not letting any doses go to waste.

“We were doing at least 100 every single week, then 200 with the booster and the original,” said Gove County Medical Center CEO David Caudill.

In an area where everyone seems to know everyone, most of the people know someone who died from COVID-19. In Gove County, the deaths included the sheriff, Alan Webber.

“It’s very impactful when you have this size population with a death, whether that’s one, 10, 20,” Caudillo said.

He said some who were originally skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccines have since come around after seeing family and friends get the shot.

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