Apr 04, 2020 10:55 AM

NW Kansas travel remains high, despite recommendations

Posted Apr 04, 2020 10:55 AM

Ellis County given a 'D' grade for travel

By JAMES BELL
Hays Post

Even as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in Kansas in the last week, the most recent data from Unacast shows that in many northwest Kansas counties travel has only been slightly decreased or remained generally flat.

In Gove County — on the day before the first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported in northwest Kansas — travel was recorded in the county to be nearly 45 percent higher than pre-pandemic numbers.

Experts almost unanimously agree the only way to stop the spread of the virus is to limit person to person contact and avoid all unnecessary travel.

"The virus is spread person to person, so that's really the key piece that we need to understand," said Ellis County Health services director Jason Kennedy about the statewide stay-at-home order. "The more that we can break those bonds, the more that we can separate and socially distance ourselves the faster we can either slow or control the spread to some degree."

According to numbers released by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Thursday, there were 552 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kansas and 13 deaths had been reported. 

On Thursday Unacast gave only six counties in northwest Kansas a passing grade; Sheridan, Thomas, Rooks, Osborne, Greely and Logan Counties based on ratings that were formulated on March 31.

All six received a "C" grade.

Ellis, Ness, Scott, Wichita, Phillips, Barton, Russell and Decatur counties received a "D" grade.

The remainder were given an "F."

During the last week, travel was reported to be even with pre-pandemic on several days in Trego, Gove, Ness, Norton, Graham and Sherman counties. 

The new rating system from Unacast takes into account new information learned about the spread of the coronavirus and incorporates the reduction in non-essential visitation.

The full data set, with data that is updated daily, can be found on the company's website, unacast.com.