COVID-19 community levels rise in Kansas City. Jackson County at ‘high’ level

·3 min read
CRAIG KOHLRUSS/ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

COVID-19 community levels as tracked by the CDC are up this week, with Jackson county experiencing a “high” level of both transmission and community spread.

The update comes as reported case numbers continue to fluctuate around the metro. Kansas City saw 2,550 new cases this past week.

What are the COVID-19 risk levels in the Kansas City area?

The CDC classifies COVID-19 levels by county in two ways. “Community levels” tell us how easy it is to access care for COVID-19 in your area, using statistics like hospital bed availability and ICU capacity. “Community transmission levels,” on the other hand, give a sense of how likely you are to catch the virus while out in public.

This week, Jackson County is experiencing a “high” community level for the first time during the current wave. Clay and Platte Counties have risen to “medium” risk, while Johnson and Wyandotte counties remain at “low.”

All five counties that make up the Kansas City metro area have “high” transmission levels. This means that your risk of catching COVID-19 is elevated throughout the metro, while access to medical care is beginning to feel the strain of the latest wave.

How are hospitals holding up?

The University of Kansas Health System is treating 24 patients with active COVID-19 infections, up from 18 at this time last week. Two of these patients are in the ICU, and both are on ventilators.

“The numbers in the Health System are increasing,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the hospital’s medical director of infectious disease prevention and control in a news briefing Friday. “It’s a little concerning. It certainly is less than where we have peaked in the past, but we know that the trend for the last week to ten days has increased.”

What does Kansas City’s COVID-19 data look like this week?

Officials reported a total of 2,550 new cases in the Kansas City area over the past week. That’s higher than last week’s total of 2,327 new cases. This past week saw an average of around 364 cases per day in the metro area, while the previous week’s average was 332 cases per day over seven days.

While these numbers may offer a small glimpse at the true prevalence of COVID-19 in Kansas City, experts say real case totals are likely anywhere from two to five times higher than what data shows. Some residents– though we don’t know how many– have recently caught the virus for the first time after avoiding it for over two years.

The state of Missouri is no longer reporting death counts at the county level. Johnson County reported one death in the last week, while Wyandotte County reported none. That brings the Kansas City metro area’s death total up to at least 4,327 since the pandemic began.

How vaccinated is the Kansas City area?

Vaccination rates in the area are rising slowly, with 62.74% of the population fully vaccinated in the Kansas City region. Eastern Kansas has a higher vaccination rate, at 71.19%, than western Missouri does at 56.44%.

Getting vaccinated and obtaining a booster shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Both mRNA booster shots (Pfizer and Moderna) are safe and effective at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Do you have more questions about staying safe from COVID-19 in Kansas City? Ask our Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com.

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