Eastern Jackson County COVID-19 cases edge higher

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net
The Examiner

While more people continue to get vaccinated and case rates statewide and nationally decline, and many local public health restrictions have been relaxed, new COVID-19 cases in Eastern Jackson County have been creeping higher in recent weeks. 

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling 14-day positive test percentage in Eastern Jackson rose again to 5.7 percent as of Sunday, two percentage points higher than two weeks ago. Two weeks before that, the average had dropped from 8 percent to 3.3 percent. At the end of January, the rolling positive test percentage in EJC was at 25 percent. 

The rolling seven-day average of new cases again rose slightly, from 30 last week to 38 as of Sunday. Two weeks ago that average was 24. As of Sunday, the county Health Department had confirmed 31,031 (up 223 from last week) and 461 deaths (four more this week) across Eastern Jackson County since the pandemic began. The county’s dashboard includes Independence. 

The department said it counted nearly 5,400 new tests last week – a short drop from the previous few weeks. The CDC’s goal for the agency is about 500 tests per day. 

According to the  Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard, 23.8 percent of the population in Jackson County outside of Kansas City has been fully vaccinated, with 32.8 percent having at least started the vaccine regimen – slightly greater than the metro area averages. Percentages are based on the entire population – and those under 16 are not yet eligible for the for the vaccine.  

The Kansas City Health Department had confirmed 38,200 cases and 561 deaths since the pandemic began, as of Friday morning – 307 additional cases and six additional deaths over the previous week. According to the department, 23 percent of the city’s population has been fully vaccinated. 

The nine-county metro area had more than 169,156 confirmed cases and 2,377 COVID-related deaths as of Sunday, according to MARC’s dashboard, an increase of more than 1,200 cases and 10 deaths from the previous week. 

According to MARC’s dashboard, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations in the nine-county metro area was at 62 through Friday, down slightly from the previous week and from about 180 at the beginning of the year. 

Available hospital beds in the metro dipped slightly to 39.8 percent overall and stayed at 37 percent for ICU beds, with COVID-19 patients accounting for about 2.5 percent and 6.6 percent of those figures, respectively. 

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

“They’re trending down around the nation, and there’s been a slight decease in the Kansas City area,” said Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Kansas Health System. “I don’t think we can say it more clearly: Vaccination is going to be the way out of this.” 

“I think our culture in Kansas City has gotten a lot better over this past year, being able to do the right things – keeping distance, masking.”