By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
The Covid-19 virus was once again a major topic of discussion at Monday’s Barton County Commission meeting. County Health Director Karen Winkelman reported that Covid infections have increased significantly in Barton County during the summer. She said there were 11 positive cases countywide in June. The number of positive cases jumped to 101 during the month of July.
Winkelman also told Commissioners about the latest guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) about requiring masks in public schools.
"CDC and KDHE recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors,” Winkleman said.
According to the recommendations issued last Friday from KDHE, masks should be worn in the schools regardless of vaccination status. However, it will be up to local school boards to decide if a mask mandate will be imposed during the upcoming school year.
Winkelman said the KDHE also recommends vaccinations for those 12 years and older, a robust testing strategy and 3-feet social distancing between students in classrooms.
Winkelman reported that 41.3 percent of Barton County residents who are eligible to receive the vaccine have been vaccinated. That is up one percent from the previous week.
Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson questioned Winkelman about the side effects from the vaccine.
"The Health Department alone has administered 11,520 doses since December,” Hutchinson said. “How many negative reactions or side effects have you seen out of those doses administered?”
“We have not had any reported to us that we’ve had to report to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System),” Winkelman responded.
“So you’re saying literally zero,” Hutchinson continued. “Zero negative side effects in Barton County from 11,520 doses.”
“We expect the usual things, and we do get calls on that,” Winkelman said. “We educate them on that upfront, but we still get calls of a sore arm or temperature or just kind of under the weather for a day or two, but it subsides.”
“And that’s the same with any vaccine, you’d have those side effects,” Hutchinson said.
“Right,” Winkelman agreed.
The County Health Department will be administering the vaccine at Barton Community College on August 17 and at a teen vaccination event on Thursday, August 5.