Geary County has been declared a COVID-19 hotspot according to the Kansas Hospital Association as the delta variant continues to spread throughout the county.
The Kansas Hospital Association recently released statistics saying Geary County is up 144 percent on its COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Ashley King of Geary Community Hospital confirmed that the delta variant has infected multiple community members in Geary County.
Many of the cases of COVID-19 that have turned up in the recent surge are cases of the delta variant. In total, GCH has tested roughly 49 total people who turned up positive for the delta variant.
According to King, there have been about 18 breakthrough cases of the delta variant — cases where people were infected with COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated.
“We aren’t really seeing a trend on how it is spreading between our folks that we have been testing,” King said. “But it is more prevalent for people that are vaccinated. We’re seeing them getting the delta variant — if they have been vaccinated and are positive, they have been positive with delta.”
The disease is known to have a lessened impact on people who contract it after being fully vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated who contract COVID-19 are significantly less likely to become extremely sick with the virus, to be hospitalized with it or to die of it — but they can still become sick.
According to King, many of the people who have contracted the delta variant locally are younger people who are not vaccinated.
“It makes it very tricky and scary for school starting up,” she said.
It is uncertain the circumstances under which local breakthrough cases have taken place, according to King.
Because the virus is still spreading, people still need to take precautions, including wearing masks indoors and at gatherings and practicing good hand hygiene.
Currently, there are four people hospitalized at GCH with the virus, one of whom is in the intensive care unit. According to King, the ICU at the hospital has a capacity of about six patients. However, if necessary the hospital could accommodate up to 12 people on ventilators, she said.
At this time, there are no COVID-19 patients on ventilators at the hospital, but King said that could change when the weather cools down.
“I’m not worried in the next few weeks but I could see in the next month or two — fall time,” King said. “Yeah, we’ll probably run into that.”
Higher vaccination rates can lessen the spread of the virus and also prevent it from having the chance to mutate into variants such as the delta variant.
Geary County is among the worst in the state for COVID-19 vaccinations, according to King.
“We’re at 25 percent,” she said. “Riley County is at 43 percent just as a comparison.”