Health leaders call for vigilance as Douglas County sees surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Nov. 9 COVID-19 update from the health department

A recent surge in local COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has members of Douglas County’s Unified Command team imploring residents to remain vigilant about public health practices like social distancing and mask wearing.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced Monday that the county added 122 new cases of the virus over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 3,397. Less than three weeks ago, the average test positivity rate for Douglas County was at 4.6%. On Monday, the health department announced it was at 11.4%.

And Lawrence’s hospital, LMH Health, announced Monday that it had 19 inpatients with COVID-19, its highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.

In a news release from the health department, Douglas County’s health officer, Dr. Thomas Marcellino, said the percent of beds and ventilators in use at the hospital are still at levels the community can handle based on surge planning conducted earlier this year. It’s important to keep those levels manageable, Marcellino said, noting that the “pandemic has an ebb and flow to it,” and that the community can have a part in turning the tide.

“Our community has done well throughout the pandemic in following public health practices, including mask wearing and spreading out to reduce chances for transmission, but these numbers are a reminder for how quickly things can turn around with the virus if any of us let our guards down,” Marcellino said. “The best thing we can all do to help slow the spread is to ensure we are getting back to the basics of mask wearing, spreading out and being safe.”

The health department said disease investigators identified recent trends for exposure, including traveling to area communities that had a high level of cases and attending social gatherings where there were lapses in mask wearing and social distancing.

Douglas County has averaged about 34 new cases per day over the last 14 days, according to a 14-day moving average graph updated weekdays by the health department. The current average of 33.79 new cases per day is down from a high of 47 cases per day in early September — a period when the University of Kansas tested thousands of people who were returning to campus — and up from a recent low of 18 cases per day in mid-October.

Of the 3,397 cases to date within the county, 481 are active. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 35,445 Douglas County residents had been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 289.9. Nineteen county residents have died from the virus thus far.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

COVID-19 test positivity rate in Douglas County as of Nov. 9.

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