WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – In just the last month, Sedgwick County saw a positivity rate in COVID-19 cases of more than 12%, its now dipped below 8%.
“There’s pretty good evidence that the mask mandate does suppress the number of cases we are seeing in the community, which means fewer people in the hospital and I think fewer people have died because of the mask mandate than if we never had the mask mandate,” said Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns.
Dr. Minns said masks are important in keeping the levels a low as possible. While they can’t completely stop the spread of the virus, the goal is to keep the numbers down until there is a better form of intervention. The county’s goal is to get the positivity rate below 5%.
“Our numbers so far in the last four plus weeks are showing that the choices that a lot of people are making in regards to wearing a mask and social distancing and the businesses that are complying, those that are following the order it is making a difference,” said Sedgwick County Health Department Director, Adrienne Byrne.
Byrne said over the last three weeks the health department has seen a steady decline in positive cases as well the number of people coming to get tested. On Tuesday, the health departments drive-thru testing center saw under 90 people, when previously they were seeing more than 230 people per day.
“Our testing is also decreasing so we don’t know if that’s because there are less symptomatic people that are ill or if they’re possibly waiting for the saliva test to be available,” said Byrne. “But overall our cases have definitely been declining, we will really have to see over the next two to four weeks what our numbers do after this long Labor Day weekend.”
The health department is caught up on testing. Anyone who has symptoms that wants to get tested is getting seen within 24 hours. Byrne said test results are coming back within 3 to 4 days after samples are collected. The department will be getting saliva test kits within the next week and hopes to expand services even further.
“If we continue to be, not being used to our full capacity then we are going to look at what populations can we open this up to, maybe its more service providers that are in the community quite a bit and around people. We will continue to expand who we offer to if we need to and we’ll see if that ends up being everybody or not,” said Byrne.