PITTSBURG, Kan. — Crawford County health officials set a grim tone for the future at the County Commission meeting on Friday as COVID-19 cases rise.
“I wish I was the bearer of better news,” said Crawford County Deputy Public Health Officer Linda Bean.
Crawford County is seeing a steady increase in positive cases according Bean; a trend that is mirroring what is going on with the rest of the state and the county. Bean said as of Friday, Crawford County has had 185 new cases this week, and she expects that number could grow to close to 200 when all is said and done.
“We are at about 27 percent positivity rate,” she said. “Which is the highest we have tracked since the middle of September.”
But an increase in cases isn't the only concern. Bean said that the health department’s contract tracing efforts are becoming stressed since the state withdrew help.
“The state is no longer able to offer any assistance with it at this time,” Bean said. “Because of lack of staffing on their end and the number of cases across the state.”
Additionally, more people are being hospitalized for COVID-19. Currently between Ascension Via Christi and the Girard Medical Center there are 16 people hospitalized, with four on ventilators, according to Bean.
“Our hospitals right now are on the cusp of potentially being overwhelmed,” she said.
As Thanksgiving draws near, Bean said something needs to be done, but what that is, she doesn’t know.
“We’ve had lots of conversations,” she said. “Not a lot of great answers.”
However, more than anything, Bean urged the need to do something, suggesting that the commission explore how to better enforce the current restrictions in place.
“Our plea for ‘do the right thing’ and ‘take personal responsibility’ is not being heeded,” she said. “Ultimately our goal is to avoid blanket restrictions and mass restrictions, but if we don’t come up with a solution, we may have to do something more.”
Commission Chairman Bruce Blair asked about a pushing more information out to the public about what they can do to avoid contributing to community spread, and while Bean agreed that it could be helpful, she said people have been hearing about this for months.
“I just feel like people have become numb to the information,” she said.
Blair agreed, but said he still felt like it was important to keep stressing to people what they need to do and how they need to behave once they get tested.
“You are positive until you’re negative,” he said.
Bean agreed, but also pointed out that there is “nothing black and white about any of this.”
No solutions were decided on at the meeting, but Bean and Crawford County Public Health Officer Dr. Tim Stebbins will be meeting with the commission sometime next week to work out a more concrete game plan.
“We’re heading down a difficult road,” Bean said.