Johnson County seeing proportion of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 increasing

Johnson County has seen an increase in the proportion of individuals testing positive since early June. “The case numbers are going up dramatically just as they are in other places around the country that have relaxed stay-at-home orders,” said Johnson County local health officer Joseph LeMaster. “We are in a dangerous place.” File photo.

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The recent uptick in reported positive COVID-19 cases throughout Johnson County has not been caused by increased testing, said Johnson County local health officer Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH. Rather the county is seeing the proportion of individuals testing positive go up.

The Johnson County COVID-19 dashboard shows the moving average of percentage of positive tests trending upward since June 10, or two days after Kansas entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Photo via Johnson County COVID-19 dashboard.

“The case numbers are going up dramatically just as they are in other places around the country that have relaxed the stay-at-home orders,” LeMaster said in an online message. “We are in a dangerous place.”

LeMaster said the county has had greater capacity for testing but that the increased testing has been in place “for a while now.”

LeMaster said that while positive COVID-19 cases have increased, hospitalizations have remained steady. This could be in part, because those testing positive have trended younger.

“But remember that there’s always going to be a two week or so lag in the number of hospitalizations following along after an increase in cases,” he cautioned.

As of June 24 there was 1 confirmed case per 458 Johnson County residents, compared to 1 per 367 in Jackson County, 1 in 244 in Kansas City, and 1 in 87 in Wyandotte County. Photo via Johnson County COVID-19 dashboard.

The most recent Johnson County COVID-19 update showed that as of June 24 the county had 1,369 cases and 81 deaths. For context the county has a population of about 600,000.

Johnson County continues to have fewer positive cases per 100,000 individuals than Jackson County, Kansas City or Wyandotte County.

Following reports of increased COVID-19 cases Gov. Laura Kelly earlier this week recommended communities remain in Phase 3 until at least July 6.

Appointment-based testing is extended to everyone with or without systems and the number of available testing slots has increased to 120 per day, according to a JCDHE update. The next drive-thru testing event for those who live or work in Johnson County is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Friday, June 26 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Avenue, in Leawood.