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April 18th, 2021

svaty county briefingEmergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Eli Svaty talks about recent issues concerning COVID-19 numbers and vaccine at last Friday’s briefing. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


While the number of active COVID-19 cases is on the decline in Seward County, the county’s health department has been working to clarify the number of active cases in their report.

“To date, Seward County has conducted more than 16,500 samples and tests, with nearly 4,000 positive results,” Seward County Emergency Operations Center Eli Svaty said at a briefing Friday.

During case investigations, Svaty said results from those positive cases are tracked by the health department. 

“However, instances occur when traditional tracking measures fail,” he said. “This can happen when the address of the patient is verified. If the patient resides outside of Seward County, follow-up data is not available. Additionally, if the phone number submitted at the time of testing is no longer active during case investigation, it is impossible for the health department to continue communication with the patient.”

Svaty said these two issues led to a significant number of active cases remaining in the system beyond their appropriate timeframe, adding cases that fall under these categories, either out of county or lost contacts, are now classified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as lost to follow-up cases

“As such, our total active cases reflect only those cases KDHE presently lists as active,” he said. “This will be the way we will report active cases moving forward. We will no longer include a category for recovered cases. In terms of local COVID-19 death counts, the local totals for COVID -19 deaths will increase by seven this week.”

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Svaty said this influx is due to the process of data verification by the state and not a sudden increase in fatalities at the local level. 

“We have seen similar influxes in numbers throughout the pandemic as results are released by KDHE and the Department of Vital Statistics,” he said. “Local deaths must be verified by both these entities before we add them to our reported numbers. In some instances, this can take weeks or even months from the time of death.”

Svaty informed those watching online the Seward County testing site located at the Ag Building will be closed on Sundays.

“Testing will still be available throughout the week,” he said. “Other testing and sample sites are available in the community, including Xpress Wellness, Genesis Family Health and several pharmacies and physicians’ offices. The United Methodist Church, in partnership with KDHE, is also offering saliva-based testing. These kits are available at the church office. It can be accessed during church hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

Svaty said to date, more than 5,300 people in Seward County have received at least their first round of vaccine, with more than 2,500 receiving their second dose.

“No one in Seward County has reported severe reactions or any issues as a result of receiving the vaccine,” he said. “This is a great step for our community and will help us as we continue to fight this disease.”

Svaty said free mental health support is available through August 2022 at Southwest Guidance Center.

“Residents of Seward County who have been impacted by COVID in some way, whether that is physically, emotionally or financially, can receive mental health services at no cost to them through a grant provided by the Kansas Department for Addictions and Disability Services,” he said. “In order to qualify, participants must be a resident of Seward County, be self-identifying as being negatively impacted by COVID-19, be uninsured or under insured. That is they do not have adequate health benefits.”

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