Jackson County bumps up COVID restrictions

By The Examiner staff

With COVID-19 cases rising sharply around the metro area for the past several weeks, Jackson County will tighten some restrictions on gatherings and building capacity for public health precaution.

Starting Friday, public gatherings will be limited 10 people or 50 percent capacity, and restaurants and bars are limited to 50 percent capacity and must close by 10 p.m. Parties in a restaurant or bar will be limited to eight people, with masks and social distancing between parties required. 

The 10-person gathering limit does not apply for governmental and judicial functions, health-care facilities, private business or retail operations, religious and faith-based activities, weddings and funerals.

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling 14-day positive test percentage was 26.15 percent on Friday, 10 percentage points above the average on Oct. 31. The last time the 14-day average was below 13 percent in Eastern Jackson County was on Oct. 8. 

The overall positive test percentage in EJC is 13 percent, with more than 100,600 tested.

The department confirmed more than 800 cases last week, for 13,101 since the pandemic began. The case total includes 151 deaths, including 10 over the previous week. The rolling seven-day average of new cases has risen from 100 on Oct. 31 to 180 as of Friday.

Health officials last week urged for greater restrictions in the area, as the recent surge in cases has strained contact tracing ability, turnaround time for tests and hospital bed capacity.

The restrictions are part of a coordinated response among Jackson County, Kansas City and Wyandotte County, Kansas. The city of Kansas City, Missouri announced similar restrictions Monday.