Stormont Vail Health System reported Monday that they have reached maximum capacity for COVID-19 patients, as case counts continued to rise across the state.
Robert Kenagy, Stormont Vail’s president and CEO, said in a statement that the news was further proof of the "public health crisis" that the city of Topeka and Kansas as a whole has found itself in.
Stormont Vail will begin closing its ambulatory surgical centers and moving elective surgeries to the main operating room, starting Tuesday.
The 81 patients positive for the coronavirus were a significant strain on the hospital’s current staffing levels, Kenagy said.
"This is a dire situation and we are committed to taking the best care of our communities as possible," he said.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 7,234 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as an increase of 10 deaths and 104 hospitalizations in that time frame.
The state reported over 1,800 cases a day for the seven-day period ending Monday.
The proportion of positive tests coming back positive has averaged 58.7% per day in the last seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University, making Kansas’ rate the highest in the country.
The spread in Nemaha and Jackson counties has caused local officials there to reverse course by opting into Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mask mandate.
The moves come as the Department of Emergency Management unveiled an online dashboard showing where counties have opted into the order.
In Jackson County, health officials say they no longer are able to conduct contact tracing and are relying on the KDHE for backup. Health officer Angie Reith proclaimed spread in the area "uncontrolled," the Holton Recorder reported on Friday.
That prompted movement from the county commission, many of whom had been skeptical of a mandate in the past.
"It’s difficult to pass a mandate that can’t be enforced, but at this time, we’ve moved to uncharted territory," Commissioner Janet Zwonitzer said. "It concerns me that we can’t pinpoint where cases are coming from. That we have no idea concerns me a lot."
Jefferson and Lyon counties have also implemented mask mandates in recent days, as both Kelly and Republican lawmakers say they are renewing their work with local officials to boost the number of residents wearing face coverings.