COVID spike arrives late, hits hard in rural Kansas county

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COVID spike arrives late, hits hard in rural Kansas county

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President Donald Trump is popular in the county, and local officials quickly abandoned a mask mandate this summer after getting heat from some local residents and amid the president’s criticism of such policies. Funerals and weddings went on. So did a homecoming football game between its two high schools, eight players to a side, on the last Friday in September, though people were encouraged to wear masks.

More than two-thirds of Gove County’s voters are registered Republicans, and Trump carried the county with nearly 85% of the vote in 2016.

The state health department said coronavirus cases in Gove County doubled during the two weeks ending Wednesday, from 37 to 75, and that spike was proportionally among the largest in Kansas. But locally, officials and doctors say the number is actually far higher — 140, with 88 in the past two weeks and almost all of them since Sept. 1. There have been seven coronavirus-related deaths — again, proportionally among the highest in the state.

The county commission imposed a mask mandate starting Aug. 6, when only a handful of cases had been reported, but repealed it 11 days later.

Superintendent Kurt Brown is careful to avoid the political debate about masks or to comment on rules elsewhere in the state. ... 649092.php
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