Record COVID surge ebbs slightly
Last week's record surge in COVID-19 cases ebbed slightly Monday.
County health officials reported 18 new cases — the same number as they reported Friday.
Even though each of those days recorded more new cases than have been reported in all but 14 of the 286 days in the pandemic, the single-day numbers were down significantly from the record 41 new cases reported last Monday and 31 last Wednesday.
The county's seven-day total for new cases declined for the first time since Jan. 3, retreating from an all-time record of 90 to 67. That number is still high — just 3 below the crest of the pandemic's post-Thanksgiving surge — but was the lowest seven-day total since Dec. 13.
As it has since Oct. 6, the county remained a federal ”red zone,“ with the infection rate for the total popluation increasing by 5.6 times the standard for designation.
With the latest cases, the county has had 795 total cases of COVID-19 since April 1, meaning 6.69% of the county's residents have contracted the disease. Many times that number have been ordered quarantined because of exposure to COVID-19 victims.
Facemasks continue to be required in public, and maintaining at least six feet distance from others is recommended at all times, even when wearing a mask.
As of Monday, 82 county residents were continuing to experience symptoms or receive treatment or were under active orders to isolate themselves from others. Two people were reported hospitalized.
State officials were reporting that 30.74% of county residents had been tested for the virus. They also reported that, for the second time in the pandemic, Bethesda Home in Goessel experienced a cluster of five or more cases. The latest outbreak involved 13 new cases through Jan. 4.
State data on Monday indicated that 17.5% of all Marion County residents tested for COVID-19 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 9 were found to have the virus. That was among the highest rates among surrounding counties. Chase County's rate was 5.9%; Harvey's was 9.2%; Saline's, 11.9%; McPherson's, 13.4%; and Butler's, 14.2%. Only Morris (19.9%) and Dickinson (23.0%) had higher 14-day positivity rates.
Although local schools have rejected it, state guidance has been to end all face-to-face school instruction whenever the 14-day positivity rate for the community in which the school is located exceeds 10.0%.
County officials no longer release any information about victims' age, but state data indicate that the groups most likely to test positive for COVID-19 in Marion County over the past 14 days are those ages 14 to 17 and those age 85 and older. The groups least likely are ages 5 to 13 and 55 to 74.
Over the past seven days, according to state data, the age groups most likely to test positive in the county were those 35 to 54 and 65 to 74.
The next update from county officials is not expected until Wednesday.
Last modified Jan. 12, 2021