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Centre, Parkside COVID clusters

Cases fall; slots for boosters fill

Staff writer

New cases of COVID in Marion County continue to slide, but active clusters of the virus persist at district schools and a care home.

Centre school district has been coping with an outbreak of the virus among students and staff for several weeks, superintendant Larry Geist said Tuesday.

“At one time last week, we had 26 out between faculty, staff, and students,” Geist said.

Five now test positive at the district’s elementary school and two at the high school. Three close contacts also are quarantined.

The district allows some close contacts to stay in school if they agree to wear masks and to be tested.

Centre’s a school nurse is available just two hours a week, so Geist administers tests to students.

About 25 now are being tested. Students report at different times to keep things running smoothly.

“We’re getting pretty good at it unfortunately,” Geist said. “We’ve had way too much practice.”

The district encourages students and staff to wear masks in its buildings but doesn’t require them.

Geist has been in contact with the county health department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since Centre students began testing positive.

Though the outbreak occurred weeks ago, it was reported by the KDHE just this past week.

“We were up to 26 kids that tested positive that’s pretty big group of kids,” he said. “That was about two weeks ago. The numbers are way down. We’re just going to keep doing what we are doing and hope and pray we are on the back end of it.”

Parkside Homes had its first positive case Oct 14. The care home began only allowing compassionate visits in its main building and asked all visitors to be tested for the virus.

Four residents at Parkside and two employees were positive with the virus on Oct. 20, it announced on social media. The care home tested all residents and staff and had no new cases. Retesting was slated for Oct 22.

Three days later, Parkside announced it was canceling an annual Halloween event because of ongoing positive cases of COVID. Officers of the care home were contacted, but did not respond.

The county has 16 new active cases of the virus, down significantly from last year’s record outbreak of 73 new cases in seven days.

In the most recent breakdown by age, Marion saw a boost in new cases among 25-to-34, and 35-to-44 age groups. Cases declined in all others.

The health department reports 85 active cases, 27 deaths, and three hospitalizations.

To date, 1,661 cases of the virus have been reported in Marion County, an infection rate of 14.1%, which is slightly lower than adjacent counties.

The health department has filled all available spots for a booster shot clinic today at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church.

More than 118 already have signed up for another clinic Nov. 10 at the church, according to office manager Jessica Gilbert.

Most who have set appointments are 65 and older.

“They have been eager to get vaccinated from the very beginning,” she said.

The department had a plan ready to offer the clinics ready the moment it received permission to proceed with vaccinations.

“We hustled,” Gilbert said. “We want everyone vaccinated before the holidays. We are thrilled with the response and hope the next one fills up as well.”

People can schedule appointments and fill out a consent forms on the health department’s web site or pick up one at the department, or physicians office.

Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna boosters may be scheduled by calling the health department at (620) 382-2550.

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Last modified Nov. 3, 2021

 

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