Eastern Jackson County COVID-19 update

Mike Genet

While Jackson County continues to be a high community transmission area according to CDC metrics – like 93 percent of the counties in the United States – new COVID-19 cases in the area continue to slowly trend downward. 

According to the Jackson County Health Department, which covers the county outside of Kansas City and Independence, the rolling seven-day average of new cases in Eastern Jackson County stood at 82.5 through Sunday, down 50 percent from four weeks earlier. In early August, that figure had been at 150. 

The county Health Department last month switched its dashboard from a rolling 14-day positive test percentage to a seven-day percentage to provide a more short-term view. Through Sunday, the seven-day figure was 12.3 percent, down from 14.8 percent two weeks ago and 18.4 percent the week before that.  

The city of Independence Health Department reported its rolling 14-day percentage at 12.5 percent through Wednesday, down from 15.6 percent about two weeks earlier. 

Independence confirmed about 700 additional COVID-19 cases through testing over the past two weeks for about 19,000 since the pandemic started, with 210 deaths – including none over the past 14 days. 

The county Health Department also recently altered its dashboard to count confirmed and probable cases in the cumulative case total. As of two weeks ago, the department had confirmed 26,600 cases outside of Kansas City and Independence since the pandemic began. This week, the case total is listed at 37,624, an increase of more than 2,100 since last week, with 499 total deaths (10 more over the past week). 

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer of University of Kansas Health System, said thus far large outdoor events (such as Sunday's Chiefs game that he attended) have not proven to be large case spreaders. It will be worth monitoring if schools starting cause a sharp increase like last fall, and when people start to be inside more in the colder months. 

“Most outside events go pretty well,” Stites said during a media briefing Monday. “I think that's going to be the answer; I think that outside is just different.” 

According to the Mid-America Regional Council's dashboard, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the metro area stood at 126 as of Sunday, continuing a steady from 167 in mid-August after a steady rise from just 39 in early June. 

Metrowide, there have been more than 207,200 confirmed cases and 2,803 deaths since the pandemic began, about 10,000 cases and 150 deaths in the past two weeks. 

According to MARC’s dashboard, 45.3 percent of the population in Jackson County had been fully vaccinated as of Sunday, still slightly below the statewide figure of 46.2 percent that ranks on the lower end nationally. 

The county figure of those fully vaccinated includes 32 percent for those ages 12 to 17, 50.1 percent of those 18 to 64 and 77.1 percent of those 65 and older. 

Metrowide, 49.9percent of the total population has been vaccinated, up from 48.5 percent two weeks ago.