Wyandotte County adds more than 170 new COVID-19 cases, precautions urged in Kansas City

Emily Curiel/ecuriel@kcstar.com

COVID-19 case numbers are beginning to decrease in parts of the Kansas City area, however Wyandotte County saw a sharp rise over the last week.

While hospitalizations remain steady and cases continue to trend downward throughout most of the metro.

“Hopefully we will start to continue or we will continue to see a little bit of a downtrend from where we were, say two weeks ago,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the medical director of infection prevention and control at The University of Kansas Health System in a Friday news briefing.

Wyandotte County did see an increase in daily cases in the past week.

What does Kansas City’s COVID-19 data look like this week?

Officials reported a total of 2,683 new cases in the Kansas City area since last week. That’s lower than last week’s total of 2,857 new cases. That means the metro saw around 383 cases per day in the past week, down from around 408 per day the previous week.

Since many people are taking COVID tests at home, which aren’t publicly recorded, experts say real case totals are likely anywhere from two to five times higher than what data shows.

The state of Missouri is no longer reporting death counts at the county level. Johnson County reported zero deaths in the past week, while Wyandotte County reported one new death. That brings the Kansas City metro area’s death total up to at least 4,342 since the pandemic began.

What are the COVID-19 risk levels in the Kansas City area?

Wyandotte County rose from “medium” to “high” in just the last week, aftering jumping from 206 cases last week to 377 cases this week. Jackson County also remains at a “high” community level of COVID-19.

That means the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors regardless of your vaccination status, maintaining good ventilation and getting up to date on your vaccines and boosters

Johnson County has remained at “low” community level since last week. This means that care for COVID-19 is easily accessible and strict precautions are not required, according to the CDC.

Clay and Platte counties are still at a “medium” community level. This level carries similar recommendations as high community level, but masks are not encouraged indoors at this level unless you are immunocompromised or indoors with someone who is.

All five counties that make up the Kansas City metro area remain at “high” transmission levels, along with most of the other counties in the nation. That means your risk of catching COVID-19 in public is still elevated, even though medical care may be easier to access than before.

How are hospitals holding up?

The University of Kansas Health System is treating 24 patients with active COVID-19 infections, four less patients than last week. Three of these patients are in the ICU, and three of them are on a ventilator, compared to four and one respectively at this time last week.

“We’re still doing fairly well as far as the COVID count in our hospital,” said Hawkinson.

Hospitalization data generally lags several weeks behind case trends, and current case counts show only a portion of the true case numbers in the area because of people testing at home, which does not get counted in public health data.

The BA.5 strain of the omicron variant has the ability to evade some antibodies caused by vaccination and past infections, so it is reinfecting some people who have had COVID recently. However, the protection provided by currently available vaccines and booster shots is still the best defense against severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.

How vaccinated is the Kansas City area?

Vaccination rates in the area are rising slowly, with 63.24% of the population fully vaccinated in the Kansas City region. Eastern Kansas has a higher vaccination rate, at 71.81%, than western Missouri does at 56.86%.

Getting vaccinated and obtaining a booster shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Both mRNA booster shots (Pfizer and Moderna) are safe and effective at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Do you have more questions about staying safe from COVID-19 in Kansas City? Ask our Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com.