CHCSEK sees increased COVID-19 testing demand as Delta variant spreads

Special to the Morning Sun /

PITTSBURG, Kan. — With an increased demand for COVID-19 testing, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) would like to remind patients to call ahead for an appointment to their local clinic before arriving for testing. In most cases, patients should remain in their car unless instructed otherwise. Most tests will be conducted at a designated parking space at the clinic. 

CHC/SEK is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases across southeast Kansas and its Miami, Oklahoma clinic. With the rise in positive cases, hospitalizations are on the increase, and Crawford County has seen COVID deaths in the past 2 weeks. This increase in viral activity is attributed to the Delta variant, making its way across the country and almost exclusively affecting unvaccinated individuals. 

While many of the current COVID cases display the classic symptoms of COVID-19, other patients are experiencing "sinus complaints" and body aches or mild upper respiratory complaints. CHC/SEK recommends anyone with symptoms get tested.  

To protect other patients and staff members, patients experiencing COVID-related symptoms are asked to wear a mask upon entering the clinic. COVID-19 symptoms can include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.  

About 80-90% of new cases, 95% of hospitalizations, and 98% of deaths are in unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated) individuals, according to Dr. Linda Bean, Chief Medical Officer at CHC/SEK. 

"The threat of COVID is still as real as it was last year, but the difference this year is that it is preventable, she says. "Vaccines are readily available, and there is still time to have our school-age students twelve years and older vaccinated by the start of school." 

All CHC/SEK clinics have COVID-19 vaccines available, and there is never a cost for the recipient. Vaccinations are available on a walk-in basis or by appointment. 

Dr. Bean noted that it is still possible (though less likely) to get COVID even if you have been vaccinated and this does not mean that the vaccine has failed. "The primary goal of the vaccine is to reduce transmission, serious illness, and death -to date, the vaccines are very effective, even against the current variants," she says. 

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions circulating regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, Bean says. "We encourage anyone who has questions to call us. We have very knowledgeable people who would be would be happy to address those concerns."