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Concerns grow as delta variant of COVID-19 spreads in Sedgwick County

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Sedgwick County is reporting the highest positive COVID-19 testing rate in the last six months, currently sitting at 6.3 percent.

Hospitals in Wichita are caring for 72 patients who have coronavirus - a number not seen since February of this year and double what the county cared for just last week.

Ascension Via Christi said it is feeling the increase. The hospital had to go back to caring for COVID patients in a dedicated COVID unit. Officials said it is disheartening because the numbers are rising, especially among those with the delta variant, while the vaccine is available. Plus, the county said almost all COVID-19 patients being cared for are unvaccinated.

“In this past week, as I said there have been, I’ve heard these two very poignant stories,” said Wichita resident, Gretchen Eick. “One of a young man in his 30s who died because he delayed getting the vaccine, and he contracted the delta virus which precipitated a stroke. I mean, so tragic. And the other, a friend of mine, personal friend of mine, who contracts the delta virus at a family reunion, but because she has been vaccinated, her only symptoms are a cold, and the loss of smell.”

Eick offered two different endings for the same disease. Health officials warn, the key difference is the vaccine. But, as of right now, less than half of Kansans are vaccinated.

Sedgwick County leaders are watching the data closely. Still, Commissioner Jim Howell said the county is not looking to reinstate restrictions.

“I want to trust the people to make informed decisions about their own health. Until the hospitals tell us that there’s a problem, I think that’s the right place for us to be as a government,” said Howell.

Secretary Lee Norman with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced plans to issue a mask recommendation sometime this week, but there are no plans to issue a mandate.

Howell said, at this time, the county is not considering a mask mandate or recommendation. He said the best way to protect yourself is through the vaccine.

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