EJC COVID-19 numbers continue to decline

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

At least one hospital official says the continued dip in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the metro area can be attributed to good infection-control behavior, even beyond the continued vaccine rollout.

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling seven-day average of new cases was at 14 on Sunday at the end of last week, down from 23 a week earlier. At the beginning of January, that average had been pushing 200, and by the end of the month it was about half that.

The rolling 14-day positive test percentage for Eastern Jackson County stood at 14.5 percent on Sunday, down from more than 17 percent last week and about 25 percent at the end of January.

“I think a lot of it is behavior, because we haven’t seen the influenza or RSV,” Steve Stites, chief medical officer of the University of Kansas Health System, said Monday, referring to the common flu and respiratory illness. “There’s a reason for that. We have got to continue that behavior because it’s winning the day” against COVID-19.

As of last weekend, the county Health Department had confirmed about 670 additional cases and 12 additional deaths over the previous weeks, for 29,709 total cases and 409 deaths across Eastern Jackson County since the pandemic began.

The county’s dashboard does include Independence, which re-established its health department in December but does not yet have its own specific data.

The Kansas City Health Department has confirmed about 37,038 cases and 474 deaths since the pandemic began, as of last Wednesday, an increase of about 300 cases and 34 deaths over nine days.

According to the Mid-American Regional Council’s dashboard, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations in the nine-county metro area was at 89 on Sunday, about the same as the week before after steadily dropping from about 150 at the beginning of the year.

Available hospital beds in the metro dropped a bit from 38 percent to 36 percent as of Sunday, though the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients continued to drop to less than 5 percent, down a percentage point. Available ICU beds also continued a steady rise, from 23 percent a week earlier to 29 percent as of Sunday, and COVID-19 patients accounted for just 9.1 percent of those beds.

Hospitalization data are based on a seven-day rolling average.

The metro area had more than 154,500 confirmed cases and 2,099 COVID-related deaths as of Sunday, according to MARC’s dashboard, an increase of 1,200 cases and 50 deaths from the previous week.