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Sedgwick County sees slight decline in positive COVID-19 ratings

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – For the first time in weeks, COVID-19 cases are down in Sedgwick County. Health professionals credit two main things.

After a long month of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitals at critical capacity, the COVID-19 data is finally looking up.

Since Tuesday, the county health department reports 239 new cases. The positivity rate has dropped slightly to 8.3%. That is the lowest since the start of the month, but health officials said they are not confident this drop in cases will continue.

“It is not herd immunity yet, and when we reach herd immunity, it is not going to be from the typical way of vaccine,” said Adrienne Byrne, the Sedgwick County health director.

Byrne said COVID-19 will be around for a while.

“With not enough being vaccinated, like 85%, it is unlikely, but it will be a combination between more people being vaccinated and some people have natural immunity,” said Byrne.

Byrne said about 51% of people in Sedgwick County are fully vaccinated. The recent drop in positive cases she said, is a result of masks in schools.

“We know that USD 259 implemented their masks a good two or so weeks ago, and so we may be starting to see some of that,” said Byrne.

“So I think a slight decline is probably from some efforts, maybe, you know, the masking in the USD 259. It has probably helped quite a bit,” said Dr. Sheryl Beard, M.D., chief medical officer at Ascension Via Christi.

Dr. Beard said right now the hospital is still busy but the number of new patients is leveling off. She also said businesses requiring employees to get the vaccine is helping. However, she said, the positivity rate and hospitalizations sometimes don’t match up.

“Usually, there is a lag because people will catch a virus get sick and not be sick initially then several days or even weeks after the illness hits them, and they can get really sick and need hospitalization,” said Dr. Beard.

Dr. Beard said she is hopeful this decline in cases will eventually give hospital workers a break. However, she said it’s ultimately up to the public.

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