Marshall County’s COVID-19 case count inched up to a total of 12 positive cases with three of them active as of early this week.

Four tests were pending as of Tuesday. Nine of the 12 had recovered, and so far this year there have been 584 negative test results in Marshall County.

Marshall County Health Department nurse Sue Rhodes gave a “big hooray” for one hospitalized case who was released last Friday.

Rhodes posted on the department’s Facebook page that it was “a great day for our COVID-19 patient who is now out of the hospital. This client is feeling much better and wants everyone to remember that this virus is real.”

The patient was “very sick and acknowledges that they know why we wear masks, social distance, and wash our hands frequently,” Rhodes said.

Another active case recorded in recent days is Dr. Cheryl Rice, who is a surgeon at Community Memorial Healthcare. She remained in isolation Tuesday at her rural Oketo home.

Rice, 43, said she’d experienced only mild symptoms and expected to remain in isolation until next Tuesday.

She had no idea where she or her husband, who also tested positive, picked up the virus. Her husband was the first in their household to show symptoms with a mild fever five days before she experienced a scratchy throat and runny nose. Both also had a loss of sense of smell and taste.

The couple assumes their two children and two more children living with them are also positive because they had brief, day-long cold symptoms but nothing more. The entire household is isolating as required by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Prior to this, Rice said, “we have followed all the KDHE guidelines, we have masked in public, not attended anything with more than 45 people. I wasn’t around anyone with COVID, that I knew of. There’s no known exposure.”

She said the health department had conducted contact tracing to notify anyone who had been indoors within six feet of her without a mask for more than 10 minutes. This time period was within 48 hours of symptoms showing up, which is according to state health guidelines.

Her surgical office is separate from the hospital building and the CMH clinic, she noted, and she’s not known anyone with the illness or any symptoms around her at work or outside of work.

So far, she said, she has been fine. Her husband Eric’s fatigue has continued but has not been significant.

Rice’s concern is that people may be afraid to get tested because they’re concerned about the reaction from others if they’re positive.

“Just follow the rules and if it happens to you, you’ll be OK,” she said. “We need people to be honest and if you have symptoms, just isolate yourself, or wear masks. Obviously it’s not 100 percent, but it will help.”

Rice said if a person tests positive it is confidential and will remain private. The contact tracing is discreet, she said, with tracers calling those who may have been exposed to inform them without giving the name of the person who tested positive.

“People shouldn’t assume that they have to quarantine. The health department will tell you if you need to,” Rice said.

Overall, she wants people to support each other.

“People need to not be scared. We need to remember to treat people like humans. Just because they test positive doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be treated with respect,” she said.

“We’re strong and doing OK but others aren’t and may not want to be attacked or ostracized. Let’s all move forward. We can’t change that. Let’s go on.”

Rice said her father is in hospice care at Cambridge Place so she and her family cannot go to see him now.

That, she said, has been difficult.

“It’s hard on our family.”

Rhodes encourages people to remember “that every day we try to protect ourselves we are in turn protecting someone else.”

Anyone who is tested, exposed or positive should follow quarantine guidelines given to them by the health department.

“We learn more about the virus every day,” she said. “What we do know is that social distancing and masks are our best line of defense, other then staying home.”

Anyone with questions can call the department at 785-562-3485.