Eastern Jackson County case totals update

By The Examiner staff

New COVID-19 cases continue to inch higher in Eastern Jackson County, and new hospitalizations due have generally remained steady for a month after a steady drop over the first three months of the year. 

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 6.6 percent last of Sunday, up from 5.7 percent last week after dropping as low as 3.3 percent several weeks ago. 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 38 last week to 40 as of Sunday. Three weeks ago, that average was 24. As of Sunday, the county Health Department had confirmed 31,284 cases (up 253 from last week) and 465 deaths (four more this week) across Eastern Jackson County since the pandemic began. The county’s dashboard includes Independence.  

The department said it counted more than 5,900 new tests last week, about 500 more than last week’s total. The CDC’s goal for the agency is about 500 tests per day.  

Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist with the University of Kansas Health System, said his hospital last week had to add a second unit for severe COVID-19 cases after needing just one unit for a couple months. He added that more of the patients they are seeing are younger, unvaccinated people. 

“In the United States the numbers are a lot better; they’re continuing to go down,” Hawkinson said, “but locally we know the daily case rate is continuing to rise.” 

“This started even before restrictions got lifted. We know that people are not getting tested as much. It doesn’t mean because the mask mandate went away that new cases went away, or that hospitalizations went away.” 

According to the Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard, 26.3 percent of the population in Jackson County outside of Kansas City has been fully vaccinated, with 33.9 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 38,554 cases and 565 deaths since the pandemic began, as of Friday morning – 354 additional cases and four additional deaths over the previous week. According to the department, 26 percent of the city’s population had been fully vaccinated as of last Thursday.  

The nine-county metro area had more than 170,465 confirmed cases and 2,390 COVID-related deaths as of Sunday, according to MARC’s dashboard, an increase of about 1,300 cases and 13 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 68 through Friday, up from 62 the previous week and continuing a multi-week trend of slightly back-and-forth. That average stood at about 180 at the beginning of the year.  

Available hospital beds in the metro dipped slightly to 38.5 percent overall and from 37 to 34 percent for ICU beds, with COVID-19 patients accounting for about 2.8 percent and 8.6 percent of those figures, respectively. COVID-19 patients in ICU beds rose 2 percentage points from the previous week. 

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