Local health department weighs in on White House warning of possible COVID surge

PITTSBURG, Kan. – On Friday, the White House issued a warning about a possible surge in COVID cases this fall and winter. We spoke with the Crawford County Health Department about their thoughts on a possible surge and if they’re ready.

Teddi Van Kam with the Crawford County Health Department says they’re prepared should a potential surge in COVID cases happen. She says they have a Continuity Of Operations Plan, or “COOP” which keeps them prepared for any kind of disaster or outbreak. They also have other contingencies. Van Kam says “The nice thing is that we do have agreements with other agencies and programs so that if we did reach what we call a surge capacity that we could initiate, pull more people in.”

Van Kam says if a surge were to happen, she feels it’s less likely to be as serious as previous surges. “We have the advantage now of having numerous people vaccinated, so that makes a difference as well as there are different treatments available, there’s oral treatments, there’s IV treatments, so physicians and other care providers have a lot of tools in their tool belt to use.”

And thanks to those resources, she says it’s likely the health department’s role in a surge would be a little different. “If we were to see a lot more cases, if that were to happen, probably one of our big roles would be testing people and giving, administering vaccine.”

Van Kam feels another thing that would contribute to a less severe surge, is the public. She says they’re more familiar with what’s going on and what to do should COVID hit them. “When people aren’t mandated to things that often, when it’s of their own decision, they’re making the decision for themselves and their families, that they are often more likely to really do what’s right and what’s needed versus feeling like they’re being pressured.”

Future funding for a possible COVID surge has also come up at the federal level. Van Kam says in a worse case scenario, the health department has grants it can utilize to help fund necessary resources.