Gov. Laura Kelly walks through the Capitol to a news conference July 29, 2021, with Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to discuss the need for people to wear masks against the COVID-19 variant. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — More Kansans are dying from COVID-19 now than they were a year ago, as new cases continue to escalate and the vaccine rate remains flat.
The Kansas Department for Health and Environment on Friday reported 28 more residents have died from COVID-19 since the agency updated numbers on Wednesday. There were also 2,991 new cases and 82 new hospitalizations.
In the past week, KDHE has added 86 deaths to the statewide total, which now stands at 5,385. The virus has killed 127 Kansans already this month, compared to 88 reported for all of August 2020.
Compared to a year ago, when state officials held weekly news briefings on the pandemic, Gov. Laura Kelly and KDHE secretary Lee Norman have been largely silent as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps through the state. The seven-day average for new daily cases has increased from 155 at the end of June to more than 1,000 by early August. A year ago, the average number of new daily cases at this time was about 400.
Kansas cases and deaths are higher now than they have been since the end of January, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State officials have focused messaging on encouraging vaccine resisters to get one of the free, safe and effective vaccines. KDHE has planned vaccine clinics at dozens of locations throughout the state.
“We are committed to our mission of protecting and improving the health of all Kansans, and receiving routine immunizations are vital to that effort,” Norman said. “Now more than ever, we encourage everyone to get their vaccines to protect themselves and their family from preventable diseases.”
According to CDC data, just 54.8% of Kansans ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I encourage Kansans to talk to their friends and family about the importance of getting vaccinated against all preventable diseases, and doing their part to protect the health and safety of all Kansas communities,” the governor said.
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