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Wave of new COVID-19 cases in Lawrence stalls vaccination data collection; 1 vaccinated person hospitalized at LMH

Until Friday, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health had not confirmed any reports of vaccinated Douglas County residents being hospitalized with COVID-19. 

But in its Friday afternoon update, LDCPH said that of seven COVID inpatients at LMH Health, six were not vaccinated, but one was.

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The county is fast approaching the grim milestone of 10,000 total cases since March 2020, reporting 9,994 on Friday. With the 14-day moving average of 28.43 new cases each day, the county will most likely hit that benchmark before Monday. 

The rapid rise in new cases has made it difficult for LDCPH staff to keep up with one data point of interest: How many of the new cases are “breakthrough” cases, meaning the virus has infected someone who has already been vaccinated against it. 

In its most recent update, LDCPH said that of cases reported from July 1 through July 21, 64.13% were in people who were eligible to be vaccinated but weren’t; 13.94% were in people too young to be vaccinated (younger than 12); 19.57% were in fully vaccinated people and 3.26% were in partially vaccinated people. 

George Diepenbrock, a spokesperson for the health department, said via email Thursday that LDCPH provided that snapshot to let the public know what trends they were seeing; unfortunately since then, “as our new cases have continued to increase, our staff has seen a higher demand again on disease investigation and it is more difficult to keep up with that type of data collection in real time.”

The department does intend to update that data when possible. 

“(W)e are still working through being able to manage that data collection in a timely manner especially when the disease investigation process might put more demand on our resources and time,” Diepenbrock said. “The importance of that process is to support isolation and quarantine if needed of those exposed to limit spread of the disease.”

Diepenbrock said that “As similar to national trends, the unvaccinated are by far the most at risk for hospitalization and severe illness. So we obviously encourage anyone eligible (12+) to make an appointment if they haven’t yet.”

County health officials also encourage people to follow CDC and local guidelines, which encourage anyone age 2 and up to wear a mask in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. 

Other updates:

• The City of Lawrence and Douglas County will require anyone ages 2 and up to wear masks inside any city and county buildings, effective Monday, Aug. 9. 

• The University of Kansas will also mandate masks indoors, the chancellor announced Friday

• Near the end of June — just before the more-contagious Delta variant of the virus was confirmed locally — the county was seeing an average of fewer than two new COVID-19 cases each day. Friday’s rolling, 14-day average of 28.43 new cases represents a nearly 2000% increase in just more than a month. 

See the latest COVID-19 stats for Lawrence and Douglas County on The Lawrence Times’ stat dashboard at this link.

Find out where you can get the free COVID-19 vaccine at this link.

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