Even with omicron on the horizon, delta is still the biggest concern in Kansas City

·3 min read

A lag in COVID-19 case reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday makes it a little harder to know where we stand in Kansas City, but doctors at the University of Kansas Health System said a jump in hospitalizations is a good indicator.

A total of 41 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 at the University of Kansas Health system as of Tuesday, with 27 active cases including four people on ventilators, and 14 people recovering. That’s up from 33 people hospitalized there last week.

“The hospitalizations are rising, and we are concerned about that,” said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System at a briefing on Tuesday. “We’ve watched the virus march across western Kansas, we know it’s been heading this direction.”

It’s still too early to tell how the omicron variant will affect Kansas City, but local researchers are studying wastewater to track the variant’s anticipated arrival. Public health guidance in preparation for omicron is the same as other COVID-19 variants.

“The rules are always the same,” Stites said at the briefing on Monday. “The rules for infection prevention and control… keep you safe going forward. So watch your distance. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Get vaccinated.”

Here’s where you can get a vaccine or a booster around Kansas City.

As of Tuesday, the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases across the metro is about 443, according to data tracked by The Star. That number is down from last week’s average of 525 cases, but higher than the previous two weeks’ averages of 326 and 267 cases. One month ago, the average was 231.

A total of 3,104 people have been infected with the virus in the metro since last week, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic up to 214,446 in the Kansas City area.

In the last week, 14 people have died from COVID-19 around Kansas City, which means 3,238 people have died from COVID-19 here since the pandemic began.

Missouri has had a total of 740,514 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and 12,594 deaths. Kansas has had a total of 465,290 cases and 6,686 deaths.

Even with a new variant potentially on the horizon, local public health experts continue to emphasize that the delta variant is still the primary concern in Kansas City, and the best way to guard against it is by being vaccinated.

“In the face of omicron, we are also dealing with an increase of cases in our community, and that’s from delta,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson said during Monday’s University of Kansas Health System briefing.

49% of Kansans and 51.1% of Missourians are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.

Across the country, 48.4 million people have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic started, and about 776,500 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Do you have questions about omicron or COVID-19 in Kansas City? Let us know.

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