Nearly 2,300 new COVID cases around Kansas City, Johnson County up to ‘medium’ risk

·3 min read
Abby Drey/adrey@centredaily.com

Cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rise in the Kansas City area, while hospitalizations and death rates remain low.

Earlier this month, experts at the University of Kansas Health System predicted the arrival of a new COVID-19 wave within six to eight weeks. While COVID patient numbers in the hospital are still in single digits, the number of new cases is the highest it has been since Kansas and Missouri adopted new data reporting practices on April 1.

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

Case numbers are rising in Kansas City while hospitalizations and deaths remain low.

Officials reported a total of 2,288 new cases in the Kansas City area over the past week. That’s higher than last week’s total of 1,793 new cases. The past week saw an average of 327 cases per day in the metro area, while the previous week’s average was 256 cases per day over seven days.

This week’s numbers are somewhat higher than reality because they include the past five weeks of data from Wyandotte County, which experienced a cybersecurity attack on Wednesday, April 18. The county recently regained control of its COVID-19 data dashboard and has updated its data to current levels.

The state of Missouri reported nine deaths in the past 12 days, but it is unclear how many of these deaths, if any, occurred in the Kansas City area. Johnson County reported five deaths in the last week, while Wyandotte County’s death count added eight new deaths from over the past five weeks. That brings the local death total up to at least 4,302 since the pandemic began.

What are the CDC risk level assessments for each county?

For Johnson County, the CDC community risk level is up to medium. If you’re at a higher risk for severe illness, you should talk to your medical provider for precautions, such as wearing a mask. You should also stay up to date with vaccination and get tested if you develop symptoms.

The community levels for Clay, Jackson and Platte counties are low, meaning it’s only recommended that you wear a mask and that you should stay up to date on vaccinations. The same is true for Wyandotte County.

For further guidance from the CDC about community risk levels, check here.

How are hospitals holding up?

The University of Kansas Health System is currently treating five patients with active COVID-19 infections, down from six at this time last week. None of these patients are in the ICU or on a ventilator.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Dana Hawkinson has noted that those with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested as soon as possible so they can access new treatments like Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill to reduce their risk of hospitalization.

“If we can keep as many people as possible out of the hospital, that is what we want,” he said. “That’s why we continue to endorse vaccinations, being up to date with boosters, and if you have symptoms, test as early as possible.”

Johnson County’s health department is now distributing free COVID-19 tests from its Olathe office to those who want them.

How vaccinated is the Kansas City area?

Vaccination rates in the area are rising slowly, with 62.13% of the population fully vaccinated in the Kansas City region. Eastern Kansas has a higher vaccination rate, at 70.26%, than western Missouri does at 56.07%.

The FDA has also placed restrictions on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of a very rare side effect that causes blood clots. It now recommends only using the J&J vaccine if you are over 18 and do not have access to any other COVID-19 vaccination options.

Getting vaccinated is still the most effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, and experts recommend using increased caution if you are not yet vaccinated.

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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