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Record COVID cancels classes, leads to mandate

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Staff writer

With a record number of county residents in quarantine or isolation and cases continuing to match or exceed last year’s pace, Tabor College has ordered all employees to be vaccinated or wear masks and be tested weekly.

Peabody-Burns Junior High and High School is closed today due to an increased number of staff and students who tested positive for COVID following an announcement for stricter social distancing Monday. Activities including the basketball game Tuesday night against Little River and Wheat State League Scholars Bowl were canceled or postponed and daily updates will be provided through the USD 398 website.

Tabor’s order follows a mandate handed down by Occupational Safety and Health Administration in November that affects businesses with more than 100 employees, spokesman Adam Suderman said.

Ignoring rare cases in which someone has contracted COVID twice means 20.46% of the county’s residents — more than one out of every five — has come down with COVID, according to Kansas Department of Health and Environment. That’s a higher percentage than the statewide infection rate, which stands at 19.73%.

Daily totals continue to indicate that the county is recording at least as many new cases each week as it did during last year’s peak period of infection.

Since Halloween, 684 cases have been diagnosed in the county. In the same period a year ago, 602 cases were recorded.

Moreover, data for this year is not yet complete because of time lags in reporting.

The worse week this fall and winter compared to last year was the seven-day period that ended Dec. 26. The county recorded 87 cases this year compared to 44 in the same period a year ago.

Equal numbers — 77 for both years — were recorded for the week that ended Jan. 2.

The total for the week ending Jan. 9 this year is down slightly — from 66 to 64. However, numbers from the last five days of that week are not in.

The county health department reported 150 people in isolation or quarantine as of Monday, and 156 last Thursday.

Both exceed numbers the health department reported at any time in December, when the lowest report was 73 Dec. 13 and the highest report was 131 Dec. 30.

Although both of the county’s hospitals employ more than 100 people, they fall under a different mandate.

Under that mandate, also issued in November, the options are be vaccinated or have an exemption.

“It does not have a testing mandate,” St. Luke chief executive Jeremy Ensey said. “All of our employees have either been vaccinated or have an exemption in place as allowed by federal and state law.”

Mark Rooker, Hillsboro Community Hospital chief executive, said his hospital is complying with mandates and already had a high but not specified percentage of employees vaccinated before the mandate was announced.

Last modified Jan. 14, 2022

 

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