By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Reno County Health Department data analyst D.J. Gering notes that the number experts are saying we'll need for herd immunity has changed from earlier in the pandemic.
"During the Alpha variant, the original COVID variant, it was suspected to be around 60%," Gering said Wednesday. That included, also, people who have been unfortunate enough to be infected with COVID-19. I do believe that rate is higher now. From most research I've read, that rate is probably around 80%."
According to Wednesday numbers from the county dashboard, 9,146 people have had COVID-19 and 29,190 have had at least one dose of vaccine. If you add those two numbers together, you get 38,336 of 62,450, or 61.4%.
"If you look at some of the nationwide trends, there are some large metropolitan areas that look like right now, they may have peaked," Gering said. "They are now on the downward trend and that's probably due to high infection rates plus the high vaccination rates. Large metro areas tend to have a higher vaccination rate. As soon as you get into more rural areas, it doesn't look like they've peaked yet."
Reno County data does provide some hope.
"We're not there yet to the point where we'll peak," Gering said. "It's possible near the end of September we can reevaluate that. We may be peaking around the end of September, but it may go into October, as well."
An important X factor is the Kansas State Fair. There is no way to compare to last year as far as rate of spread, because the event didn't happen, so it remains to be seen what impact that could have.