Marshall County Health Department has started to test the public for COVID-19 at their clinic in Marysville.

Previously testing of the public has been done only at other medical facilities in Marshall County.

Meanwhile, local nursing homes continue to vaccinate residents and staff.

The health department’s saliva tests are free and available each Monday through Thursday morning. They must be scheduled in advance by calling the health department clinic at 785-562-3485.

The tests are given only between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The clinic is at Sixth and Broadway.

County health department director Sue Rhodes said anyone can be tested, whether they show symptoms or not. The tests are also available to those who need a test prior to surgery.

The county had 48 active COVID-19 cases as of Monday with 12 pending tests.

Twenty-two people have died of the virus in the county.

Rhodes said the local infection rate was steady in recent days. Statewide and nationwide, positivity rates remained very high. Kansas had 247,502 total positive cases and 3,255 deaths by early this week.

Test requirements

To be tested at the Marshall County Health Department, people should bring a cellphone or electronic tablet and a pen, and should not eat, drink, chew gum, brush teeth, smoke or chew tobacco 30 minutes prior to the test, Rhodes said.

Tests are then taken by FedEx to a lab in Lenexa, and the results are normally available within 24 to 36 hours. Results go directly to the person’s cell-phone or tablet.  

People also are still being tested at Community Memorial Healthcare. The hospital is averaging about 20 tests on weekdays and fewer on weekends, said Ashley Kracht, CMH marketing director.

Vaccinations

The county had no word early this week on when it will receive more vaccine to start immunizing more residents, Rhodes said. Currently medical workers and elder care facilities are the largest groups receiving vaccinations.

Cambridge Place residents and staff received their first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 7. A total 75 vaccinations were given to residents and staff by a team of three staff from the pharmacy chain CVS, which included a pharmacist.

“This facility-wide vaccination was a very smooth process,” said Arlene Wessel, nurse and administrator of Cambridge Place and Blue Valley Senior Living in Blue Rapids.

The vaccine, she said, “is critical to our lives getting back to normal at our local nursing facilities.”

This also depends on the community at large. Until Marshall County’s positivity rate drops below 10 percent and Cambridge Place goes at least two weeks without any new COVID-19 cases in residents or staff, the facility is prohibited from having visitors.

“We can allow very restricted visitation in an end-of-life situation, but that is all that is allowed,” Wessel said.

As of Monday, the county’s positivity rate was at 14.9 percent, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

“I believe increased rates of vaccination will help decrease the county positivity rate,” Wessel said.

The Pfizer vaccine received at Cambridge Place requires a second injection 21 days after the first. Any residents or staff who may not have taken the vaccine last week will have a second chance to receive their first injection.  

“For the sake of our residents, their families and the community I hope people will consider getting the vaccine when it becomes available to them,” Wessel said. “We have seen minimal side effects from the injection. A sore arm for a couple of days is the commonly reported complaint.”

At Country Place Senior Living, an assisted living facility in Marysville, Pfizer vaccines were scheduled for Tuesday. The pharmacy chain Walgreen’s planned to send staff to administer the shots.

“All residents have consented and nine staff members,” said Country Place director Kristi Scheele.

The second round of shots will be given in a couple of weeks.

“We’ve been doing COVID-19 surveillance testing of staff two times each week and have not had it in the building,” Scheele said of the virus.