Just as last November, Marshall County is again seeing a surge of COVID-19, with 85 positive cases reported early this week.

Ten more tests were pending, and four people remained hospitalized with the virus late Tuesday.

Marshall County Health Department director Sue Rhodes said cases were spread across the county and across age ranges.

“This is likely the result of Halloween,” she said. “We’re 10 days out from those gatherings. I expect the same after Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Rhodes reminded those who are vaccinated that they can still get the virus, although they usually see milder symptoms, fewer hospitalizations and a much lower rate of death.

“People need to protect themselves when they’re in groups,” she said of wearing masks when nearby others.

Last November, positive cases hit more than 200 when vaccines were not available.

CMH testing

Deb Hedke, director of infection prevention and employee health nurse at Community Memorial Healthcare, said Tuesday that testing has been brisk this fall.

In September, CMH had 13.4 percent positives among 326 COVID-19 tests given. In October, 14.8 percent of tests were positive among the 263 given.

Testing for COVID-19 and other seasonal illness is available daily from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. by scheduling an appointment through Community Physician’s Clinic at 785-562-3942.

Hedke said the number of people with RSV, a respiratory illness often seen in children, had subsided after getting unusually high earlier this fall. And so far flu hasn’t surfaced.

“We’ve not had a case of flu show up yet in testing at CMH,” Hedke said.

The federal mandate requiring hospitals to vaccinate staff against COVID-19 means CMH will start giving initial doses to unvaccinated staff next week. All staff must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

Frontline medical staff are also able to get third shots starting next week. About 81 percent of CMH’s staff has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’re better off than many hospitals,” Hedke said.

Walmart

Marysville Walmart’s pharmacy staff confirmed they have the Moderna vaccine as well as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson available for booster shots to those who need them.

People are asked to go online to make an appointment at walmart.com/covid. Walk-ins will be accepted but might have to wait.

Shots for children

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment last week approved giving the Pfizer child dose of COVID-19 vaccine to youngsters ages 5 to 12. But the state has not yet delivered doses to Marshall County Health Department.

Rhodes said she would notify the public when it comes available.

The same goes for the booster shots for Moderna vaccine. Rhodes had expected them to arrive from KDHE this week, but they didn’t. She’s hoping they’ll arrive by next Tuesday, which is weekly COVID-19 vaccination day at the health department at Sixth and Broadway in downtown Marysville.

KDHE last week authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 under emergency use authorization through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making all Kansans 5 and older eligible for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.

“With this new development, the tools we need to keep kids safe and in school – and finally return to normal – are more accessible than ever,” said Gov. Laura Kelly in a news release. “We’ve been preparing for this announcement for months, and we stand ready to distribute this vaccine quickly and efficiently to every Kansas community. The vaccine is safe, effective, and free, and I encourage all Kansas parents to get their kids aged 5 and older vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The vaccine dose was designed for children, and underwent additional clinical trials specifically for people ages 5-11 to determine that the vaccine was safe, effective and appropriately dosed to minimize any possible side effects, according to KDHE.

“The Pfizer vaccine formulation has already been administered more than 380 million times in the United States since it was first authorized in December 2020 and continues to prove effective while undergoing intensive safety monitoring,” the release said.

“While we have seen lower rates of COVID infections in children as compared to adults, the delta variant brought the levels of infections in kids to record highs. This important development will help keep children safe and stop the spread of COVID-19,” Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said. “These vaccines have been proven to prevent COVID-19 infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death, and are important to get even if your child has already had COVID. But don’t just take my word for it — talk to your local doctor, get all the facts, and make the best choice to protect your family. Vaccination is the key to beating this pandemic.”

Children under the age of 5 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety and efficacy data of vaccines and consider expanding eligibility for vaccines at appropriate doses for children under the age of 5, pending further review.