COVID-19 cases per day in Douglas County, virus inpatients at LMH Health hit new highs

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

COVID-19 Outbreaks in Douglas County as of Nov. 12

Douglas County’s 14-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases per day rose to 49.29 on Friday, its highest level since the pandemic began, and Lawrence’s hospital now has more inpatients with the virus than ever before, according to local health authorities.

According to the 14-day moving average graph released by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, the previous record for average new cases per day was about 47 — a mark that the county set in early September when thousands of people were tested at the start of the University of Kansas’ fall semester. The average fell throughout the rest of September and much of October, but it started to spike dramatically over the past two weeks. In mid-October, the county was only seeing about 18 new cases per day.

As of Friday, Douglas County reported 3,724 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 88 cases since Thursday. The health department’s news release said 3,031 cases are inactive or beyond the infectious period, meaning 693 cases are active.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Nov. 13 COVID-19 update from the health department

Lawrence’s hospital, LMH Health, had 25 inpatients on Friday. That’s the highest number of COVID-19 inpatients the hospital has seen since the start of the pandemic. Only 16% of the hospital’s ventilators were in use as of Friday, but 46% of beds were in use. The health department’s goal is to have less than 40% of beds in use.

Dr. Chris Penn, an infectious disease physician with LMH Health, said the hospital knew the increase in hospitalizations would come.

“We’ve enjoyed it being relatively quiet until last week. But we’ve been preparing for this — meeting on a daily basis and making adjustments as needed,” he said in Friday’s news release from the health department.

LMH Health’s daily update said hospital leaders have decided to set up one of the planned overflow spaces in the hospital. It also said that a COVID-19 inpatient died on Thursday. No new deaths were reported in the health department’s update, meaning that the deceased patient was likely from another county.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 35,767 Douglas County residents had been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 292.6.

More details on local outbreaks

Also on Friday, the health department announced more details on the 84 COVID-19 outbreaks that have taken place in Douglas County since the pandemic began.

A chart from the health department showed that the biggest sources of outbreaks in the county were social gatherings (15), group or multi-family housing (15), businesses (13) and athletics (13). Additionally, 10 outbreaks have stemmed from long-term care facilities, eight outbreaks have stemmed from restaurants, four outbreaks have stemmed from schools and the remaining six outbreaks were put in an “other” category.

Currently, there are three high-risk outbreaks in the county, according to Friday’s updated Community Scorecard metrics. The scorecard also noted that both the average weekly number of COVID-19 cases and the number of active COVID-19 cases are increasing; the county’s goal is for them to decrease.

COVID-19 cases at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor

Two employees and one contract therapist who work at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from the assisted living facility.

The facility conducted routine surveillance testing for 77 employees and two contract employees on Tuesday, Nov. 11. One direct-care employee who had last worked on Monday and one non-direct care employee who had last worked on Wednesday both found out Wednesday evening that they had tested positive for COVID-19.

Additionally, one contract therapist who last worked Thursday morning found out later that day that they had tested positive for COVID-19. All three people were screened before their shift and wore personal protective equipment while working.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health has recommended that all assisted living residents, health care residents and staff be tested for COVID-19 on Monday, Nov. 16. Staff members will be tested twice a week, per the health department’s recommendation. In-person therapy has also been paused until further notice, the news release stated.

“The safety of our residents and employees remains our highest priority,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America’s infection prevention specialist and vice president for health and wellness.

These were the first COVID-19 cases the facility had seen in several months. Lawrence Presbyterian Manor announced a cluster of cases at the facility on Aug. 17 and a death of a resident who had previously tested positive for the virus on Sept. 4.


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