COVID-19 could hit record levels in Marshall County this week as positive tests mounted here. The Marshall County Health Department reported 105 active cases on Monday and by Tuesday at least 25 were added to the tally.

Four countians were hospitalized, all at Community Memorial Healthcare in Marysville. CMH reported Tuesday that three of the four patients with COVID-19 were not vaccinated.

Officials urged vaccinations to avoid serious illness and hospitalization. Regional hospitals were rationing care because of the high volume of COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care and forcing them to limit any admissions from outlying rural hospitals who need higher levels of care for not just COVID but any other ailment or injury.

Marshall County Health Department director Sue Rhodes told county commissioners Monday that she planned to call the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and transfer all of the county’s COVID-19 cases to the state.

“We can’t do it anymore,” Rhodes said.

She said new isolation/quarantine guidelines were issued late last week. She said her department had planned to stay with a 10-day quarantine for people who test positive, but she found out over the weekend that CMH would be going to five days and Community HealthCare System, Onaga, which has a clinic in Frankfort, is switching to five days.

“We’re going to have to roll to the five-day thing,” she said. “I can’t say I exactly like it. I don’t think there’s enough science behind it.”

She gave commissioners a handout about the guidelines and a three-page handout a pending update for schools.

“We’re trying to get all of our ducks in order and trying to get the hospital to work with us,” she said.

Rhodes told commissioners she had decided it was just too difficult.

“I am going to tell you I am totally overwhelmed,” she said. “All my staff is tired.”

She said the department was testing 30 to 100 people a day and testing takes one or two people off the floor.

“We can’t do it anymore,” she said.

Rhodes said her department would do COVID-19 testing as long as it could. If the department has to begin billing for the tests, the health department would not be able to staff that, she said.

“When that starts, we’ll quit,” she said.

Before 10 a.m. Monday, Rhodes said, her department had tested 40 people and had six positive results for COVID-19.

Rhodes told commissioners she was hiring Candace Prell, who is on military leave for six to eight weeks, as contract labor to help with testing. Wage rate will be $17.79 an hour at the Clerk I, Step I rate.

Rhodes said her office currently was caught up with filing.

She said guidelines were confusing and it was hard to educate and inform the public when the health department was saying one thing, the hospital might say another and a person’s doctor might say something else.

“All you can do is your job,” commissioner Keith Bramhall said.

Commissioner Barb Kickhaefer told her to take care of her team.

Rhodes said she had dragged her feet this long and hadn’t given up the contact tracing and other extra COVID-19 work because “our community is our community.” But she now thinks it is time.

Her department hasn’t had difficulty getting testing materials, she said. Rhodes said test results sent on to the state had been taking longer because of a backlog from the holidays.

Rhodes said it would be a process to switch local cases over to the state and she expected to have to get many phone calls.

In other health department-related business on Monday, Rhodes said she had a call in to a company in Lincoln, Neb., about repairs to the awning on the department building. It was damaged in the December windstorm.

Commissioners will receive bids for proposals to repair the building’s floor joists by 2 p.m. Feb. 9 and will open the bids at their Feb. 14 meeting.

Kickhaefer asked Rhodes to meet with the board once a month to keep the commissioners updated on COVID-19 and other department work. They agreed to 10 a.m. at the first meeting of each month.