Area COVID-19 cases continue to fall

By The Examiner staff

New COVID-19 cases continued to go down in Eastern Jackson County for the second straight week.  

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling 14-day positive test percentage in Eastern Jackson stood at 5.8 percent as of Sunday, down from 6.3 last week and 6.6 the two weeks before that. That figured had dropped as low as 3.3 percent earlier in the spring. At the end of January, the rolling positive test percentage in EJC was at 25 percent.   

The rolling seven-day average of new cases dropped from 35 last week to 31.8 as of Sunday, the lowest since 38 more than a month ago. Two weeks ago, the average was 47. 

As of Sunday, the county Health Department had confirmed 31,729 cases (up 73 from last week) and 504 deaths (12 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 over the past week, about 500 fewer than last week’s total. The CDC’s goal for the agency is about 500 tests per day.   

“Clearly a lot better than where we were six months ago,” Steve Stites, chief medical officer of the University of Kansas Health System, said during a media briefing Monday. “We’re seeing ongoing drops” around the metro area. 

“We know the vaccine mask changes were lifted, and nine to 10 days into that, we’re not seeing a marked increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, which I think is important.” 

“The important thing, if we’re going to keep people safe in the long term, it’s vaccinations.” 

According to the Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard, nearly 31 percent of the population in Jackson County outside of Kansas City has been fully vaccinated, with 36.6 percent having at least started the vaccine regimen – less than 1 percent behind than the metro area averages. Statewide, about 33.8 percent in Missouri have completed the vaccine regimen. Percentages are based on the entire population – and children age 12-15 only recently became eligible for the vaccine.    

The Kansas City Health Department had confirmed 39,250 cases and 576 deaths since the pandemic began, as of Friday morning – 178 additional cases and 13 additional deaths over the previous week. According to the department, 31.7 percent of the city’s population has been fully vaccinated as of Thursday.  

According to MARC’s dashboard, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations in the nine-county metro area was at 52 through Friday, down from 55 the previous week and 62 the week before that. That average stood at about 180 at the beginning of the year. The metro area has confirmed more than 172,600 cases since the pandemic began, along with 2,452 deaths – 20 additional deaths this week 

Available hospital beds in the metro dropped slightly to 37.9 percent overall and a few points to 31 percent for available ICU beds. COVID-19 patients account for 2.3 percent of hospitalized patients overall and 6.8 percent in the ICU, representing slight drops from the previous week.  

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