COVID-19 cases, clusters and deaths rose throughout the Wichita area last month as public officials in some cases adjusted their response to the pandemic.
As of July 29, Sedgwick County reported 3,790 cases – of which 2,442 remained active – 24 clusters and 38 deaths. Clusters are non-household locations with two or more confirmed or probable positive cases. Harvey County reported 143 cases – of which 23 were active – one cluster and 3 deaths during the same period. Butler County had 186 cases – of which 53 were active – two clusters and no deaths.
Long-term care homes accounted for 11 clusters and at least 29 deaths in Sedgwick County. Deaths at long-term care facilities included: Clearwater Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 11; Chisholm Place, 7; Diversicare of Haysville, 4; Park West Plaza Retirement Community’s The Manor Nursing Home, 3; New Life Home Plus, 2; and Avita Assisted Living and Memory Care at Rolling Hills, 2.
Other long-term care facilities that experienced clusters in Sedgwick County but had no deaths were: Chaucer Estates; Comfort Care Homes of Wichita; The Oxford Grand at New Market; and Catholic Care Center.
Harvey County’s first cluster was identified at Schowalter Villa in Hesston. According to the county, seven facility staff members were confirmed to have COVID-19. There were no known COVID-19 cases among residents. Butler County’s clusters were identified as a Mother’s Day gathering and a private business, both in El Dorado.
In early July, commissioners in all three counties rejected a mandatory mask order that had been issued by Gov. Laura Kelly. However, Sedgwick County’s health officer, Dr. Garold Minns, issued his own mask order on July 8, with a majority of the commission’s support. Harvey County commissioners ordered the use of masks on July 14. Neither county has enacted provisions for enforcing the orders.
“Our active cases have continued to rise the past two weeks, community spread was identified, and hospitalizations increased in the region,” Harvey County Commission Chair Randy Hague said. “If we’re going to keep our local businesses from having to shut down again, if we’re going to give our schools a chance to reopen, we needed to reassess and take additional steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The city of Wichita has enacted a mandatory mask order with provisions for small fines, but officials say they will be used only as a last resort.