GREG LOWER

Cases of COVID-19 in Neosho County have dropped dramatically since vaccinations began, but officials are keeping tabs on the potential of variants of the disease.

Neosho County Health Department epidemiology nurse Christy Hoerle, RN, said one case of the United Kingdom variant was confirmed in Neosho County, but the patient has now recovered.

She said the case was first reported about a month ago.

The variant is only confirmed through specific tests, and Hoerle said not all tests are complete so there might have been other cases.

The Centers for Disease Control has identified five COVID-19 variants of concern, but just three have been confirmed in Kansas and only one in Neosho County. 

Hoerle said she does not have specific information about Labette and Crawford counties, but she is aware that the variant has been found in surrounding counties.

Hoerle said the CDC reports that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing the variants, although not as effective as against the primary virus. 

She said the vaccines are still very effective and also effective in preventing hospitalizations for healthy individuals.

She said officials feel treatments are also effective and if a case tests positive, those who have been in contact will be notified and should complete a 14-day quarantine.

In Tuesday’s report, the NCHD reported 17 active cases in the county, the lowest level since the first weeks of October and down from 160 before vaccinations began.

Neosho County has had a total of 1,848 positive tests out of 7,707 total tests with 29 deaths confirmed from COVID-19. The disease has struck 11.58 percent of Neosho County residents.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 29 percent of Neosho County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine, or 289.9 per 1,000 people.

Paula Roberts with the NCHD reported the department vaccinated 2,800 people, including providing some doses to Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center. A mass vaccination clinic at the Chanute Recreation Center, organized with the help of NMRMC, NCHD, Ashley Clinic and pharmacist Nic Galemore, vaccinated 1,200 people.

Roberts said she had no information on how many vaccinations Walmart provided.

NMRMC reported that it has given 2,736 prime doses of the vaccine and 2,099 booster doses as of Tuesday. Some of those vaccinations were for residents of surrounding counties.

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