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Data suggest local virus increase

The Examiner

With an apparent backlog of test results coming in, new COVID-19 cases in Eastern Jackson County have risen sharply.

According to the dashboard of the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling seven-day average of new cases was at 132 on Friday, about the same as last week, though last week the dashboard showed that Friday figure at 88. 

In addition, the rolling 14-day positive test percentage was at 37 percent Friday, up from 32 percent a week earlier and the highest number yet for that measurement in Eastern Jackson County. Last week, the department’s dashboard showed that Friday figure at 26.5 percent.

In EJC, the 14-day average has not been below 20 percent since the beginning of November and hasn’t been below 25 percent since Nov. 9, and health officials have advised a 14-day average of 10 percent or lower to indicate lower community spread.

The overall positive test percentage in EJC is 18.4 percent positive as of Friday – another increase from the previous week, this time seventh-tenths of a percentage point. 

The Health Department confirmed more than 1,400 additional cases last week for 24,002 total since the pandemic began. The case total as of Monday morning included 13 deaths in the last week for 243 total.

As of last Wednesday, the Kansas City Health Department had confirmed more than 29,900 cases and 352 total deaths since the pandemic began, including three deaths and about 1,400 additional cases over the prior week.

According to the dashboard maintained by the Mid-America Regional Council, as of Sunday, there have been more than 124,300 confirmed cases and 1,483 deaths, including 81 deaths and an additional 6,900 cases confirmed over the past week. 

Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease expert with the University of Kansas Health System, says their hospitals have started to see an increase in COVID-19 cases stemming from the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as it’s too early to fully gauge a possible Christmas surge.

“It does take time to get to that point where you have to be hospitalized,” Hawkinson said during a KU Health System briefing Monday. “We’re just seeing a lag. It’s not something we’re going to see one or two days after (infection and testing). The only way we look at it is retroactively.”

Also according to MARC’s dashboard, average new hospitalizations in the nine-county metro area rose again after dropping for a couple weeks, back to 178 Friday after dropping to 174 the previous week. 

Available hospital beds in the metro rose from about 37 percent the previous week to 35 percent on Friday, while 14 percent of beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients – about 1 percentage point less than last week. Available ICU beds rose dropped from about 21 to 19 percent, and COVID-19 patients account for 31 percent of those, a 2 percent drop from last week. 

All hospital figures are based on seven-day rolling averages.