May 17, 2021 5:55 PM

COVID-19 variant identified in Barton County

Posted May 17, 2021 5:55 PM
Barton County Health Director Karen Winkleman addresses the Barton County Commission on Monday.
Barton County Health Director Karen Winkleman addresses the Barton County Commission on Monday.

By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post

GREAT BEND — The Barton County Health Department is now reporting the first case of a COVID-19 variant in Barton County. Karen Winkleman, the County's Health Director, told Barton County Commissioners on Monday morning that she learned of the variant on Sunday night from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

"The variant that was identified as a variant of concern, [was] the B117 which is the United Kingdom variant," Winkleman reported, "and it has approximately a 50 percent increase in transmission."

Winkelman said 51 of the 105 counties in Kansas have reported the presence of a COVID variant.

In other news, she noted that Barton County continues to lag behind the state average in the percentage of vaccinations.

"The percentage of Kansas vaccinated is 39.9 percent, and that's with one dose, total population," she said. "And our total population vaccine rate in Barton County is 32.8. We did go up about one percent with the eligible population. This past week we are at 41.5 percent."

The County Health Department administered 113 doses this past week compared to 138 doses the week before.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children 12 years and older. Winkleman said she met with the county's school superintendents via Zoom last Friday to let them know that her department is willing to come to the schools to administer the vaccine.

KDHE has reported one additional COVID death in Barton County during the past week, bringing the total to 49.