HAYS — COVID-19 numbers continue to rise dramatically in Ellis County. All deaths related to the pandemic in the county are among people older than 65.


"This virus disproportionately affects those over 65, statewide," Jason Kennedy, Ellis County Health Services director, said Monday during the Ellis County Commission meeting.


Although only 18% of those over 65 have COVID-19, Kennedy said, this age group represents "100% of mortality" in the county. In Ellis County, 20 people have died of COVID-19.


According to Kennedy, this death rate is similar to state patterns, with those older than 65 representing 83% of statewide deaths related to COVID-19.


"It’s not been a great two weeks for Ellis County," Kennedy said. "As we look across the world and our nation, there is nobody that is faring well with the virus."


As of Monday, there were 399 active COVID-19 cases in Ellis County, with 12 active hospitalizations. Since Friday, 88 new cases were identified, according to Monday’s report.


Holidays


Because the holidays are approaching, Kennedy is asking Ellis County residents to be vigilant. He wants people to wash their hands, wear masks and distance themselves.


"We need people to make good choices," he said. "Take individual precautions, and look out for one another."


Kennedy said because seniors are in the highest risk of mortality, extra precautions must be taken when visiting them, especially if they live far away or are not in the family’s bubble. Because of the approaching holidays, more people are getting tested to make sure they can visit with loved ones.


But, Kennedy cautions, many people let their guard down during large gatherings. He is hopeful of the vaccines.


Kennedy said his department is trying to educate the public. He understands pandemic fatigue has set in, but he hopes people realize the importance of remaining watchful. Because of the increase in colder temperatures, strep throat, allergies and influenza cases are also increasing.