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Area's COVID-19 levels ease up

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

While the vaccine rollout around Missouri continues to crawl along, new COVID-19 cases in the area have been dropping in Eastern Jackson County. 

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling seven-day average of new cases fell to 66 on Friday, down from 132 a week earlier and 196 back on Jan. 8

The county’s dashboard does include the city of Independence, which re-established its health department last month but does not yet have its own specific data.

The 14-day average of positive tests in Eastern Jackson County was at 27.7 percent on Friday, down from 35 percent a week earlier and the lowest 14-day average since early November. That percentage had been in the low-40s in early January.

The overall positive test percentage has held steady at about 20 percent for more than a week, with more than 136,300 people tested.

As of Monday morning, county health department had confirmed nearly 2,000 additional cases and 35 additional deaths over the past two weeks, for 27,424 total cases and 297 deaths across Eastern Jackson County since the pandemic began.

As of Friday morning the Kansas City Health Department had confirmed nearly 34,300 cases and 415 total deaths.

According to the Mid-American Regional Council’s dashboard, the nine-county metro area had had 143,300 cases and 1,744 covid-related deaths as of Sunday.

MARC’s dashboard also showed that average new hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the metro area continue to drop noticeably, from 180 at the beginning of the month to 137 on Friday.

Available hospital beds in the metro stayed at 34 percent for a second straight Friday, up from 31 percent two weeks earlier, and the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients dropped another two points to 11 percent. Available ICU beds also held steady for a second straight Friday at 19 percent, up from 17 percent two weeks earlier, and COVID-19 patients accounted for 26 percent of those beds, down from 29 percent last week.

“We’ve been lucky that the numbers haven’t been overwhelming” in area hospitals, Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Kansas Health System, said during a KU Health System briefing Monday. 

“We didn’t see the post-Christmas surge that we were afraid of,” added Steven Stites, the system’s chief medical officer.