Eastern Jackson County COVID-19 totals continue to decline

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

While Missouri saw an uptick in new COVID-19 cases last week, Eastern Jackson County continued to stay low after several weeks of continuous drops. 

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside Kansas City, the rolling 14-day positive test percentage in Eastern Jackson County stood at 4.3 percent as of Monday, down from 4.5 and 4.7 percent the previous weeks and just below 7 percent in early May. That figure had dropped as low as 3.3 percent early 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 back down to 18.4 as of Monday, compared with 18.7 and 18.5 the previous two weeks after 32 the week before that. Just over a month ago, the average was 47. 

As of Sunday, the county Health Department had confirmed 32,083 cases (133 more this past week) and 530 deaths (four more this past week) across Eastern Jackson County since the pandemic began. The county’s dashboard includes Independence. The department said it counted more than 4,047 new tests over the past week, slightly below last week’s total. That number has slowly declined since the beginning of April. 

Drs. Steven Stites and Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System, said they are seeing a “little bit of a COVID creep” in the metro area, but Stites said the Delta variant hasn’t taken off in the United States yet like in other places. 

“We know that in the nation the cases have increased a little bit,” Hawkinson said during a media briefing Monday, “but vaccinated people are still protected from (the variants).” 

According to the Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard, drawn from state data, as of Monday morning more than 35 percent of the population in Jackson County (including Kansas City) had been fully vaccinated, including nearly 45 percent of those age 18 and older and 71 percent of those 65 and older. Metro-wide, 39 percent of the population, nearly 51 percent of those 18 and older and nearly 81 percent of those 65 and older have been fully vaccinated.  

According to MARC’s dashboard, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations in the nine-county metro area was at 42 through Saturday, compared to 43 and 45 the previous two weeks and 52 and 55 the weeks before that. That average stood at about 180 at the beginning of the year. The metro area has confirmed more than 175,600 cases since the pandemic began, along with 2,568 deaths – 78 additional deaths this week, though the Memorial Day holiday caused some reports to lag.  

Available hospital beds in the metro rose a bit to 40 percent overall and 32 percent for available ICU beds after a dip last week. COVID-19 patients account for 2.1 percent of hospitalized patients overall and 5.4 percent in the ICU, a slight decrease or steady percentage from the previous week.     

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