Since June, Crawford County has seen an increase in new COVID-19 cases.
At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 13, a press conference was held on campus in the lobby of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. In attendance was Crawford County Health Officer Dr. Tim Stebbins, Dr. Katelyn Falk, chief medical officer at Ascension Via Christi, Dr. Linda Bean, chief medical officer for the Community Health Centers of Southeast Kansas, and Teddi Van Kam, Crawford County Health Department director and so-health officer.
As of Monday, July 12, there were a total of 136 people in isolation and 680 persons in quarantine. The region has seen five deaths in the two weeks prior to the press conference.
“The current spike has largely affected the unvaccinated population and is highly related to the Delta variant,” Stebbins said. “The variant is more transmissible and is causing worse infection even in the younger population that tolerated the previous variants well. Nationwide, 80-90 percent of the new cases are in the unvaccinated, no previous infection group and they account for 99 percent of the current deaths as well.”
As of the day of the conference, Crawford County has given 19,381 first doses of the vaccine and 13,801 second doses for a total of 33,182. This translates to 49.93 percent of the county population vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccination.
“The single, greatest protective element from the virus is the vaccine and we are encouraging anyone not vaccinated to seek… (vaccination),” Stebbins said. “Vaccination limits the spread of the virus, protects individuals for serious disease or death, and reduces the potential for new, possibly worse, variants from forming.”
Stebbins addressed the misinformation about the vaccines circulating on social media and in the news.
“…The vaccines are effective and safe,” Stebbins said. “The vaccines are monitored closely for adverse events and these are reported and followed both locally and nationally… Very few individuals would not benefit from the vaccine such as those that have severe allergic reactions.”
Additionally, Stebbins said that the current vaccines are “highly effective” against all current strains of COVID-19 including the Delta variant.
Falk handles inpatient care at the hospital and took care of the first COVID patient at Ascension Via Christi.
“…If you have had COVID, go donate blood,” Falk said. “That is one of our treatment options is to give people a blood transfusion from those who have survived so that those who are currently sick get those antibodies… If you can, if you have had it, please go donate. That will help us out once people do get sick enough to come into the hospital.”
Bean also commented on the situation during the conference.
“I just really want to reiterate that the threat is still real,” Bean said. “We’ve had a really hard last year and we are still facing the same threat with a little bit of a variant… What puts us differently at this moment in time is that it’s preventable. We have (a) vaccine, we have tools that can treat it, and so we are sitting in a very different place, but we have to utilize those tools that we have. The vaccine is very important, it’s very effective, it’s very safe, and it’s very accessible in our communities. If you are showing symptoms of illness, we encourage getting tested. There are treatment options, and all of this can prevent severe illness and death which is what our primary focus is at this point… “