Johnson County surpasses Jackson County in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents

More positive COVID-19 cases were reported in the first 10 days of July than in the entire month of June in Johnson County, according to JCDHE Director Sanmi Areola. File photo of a mobile testing site in Johnson County.

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For the last few months, Johnson County and Jackson County have been nearly equal when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. But now, Johnson County has surpassed Jackson County in that metric, registering more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents. Jackson County is still in the 450-cases-per-100,000 range.

Wyandotte County, on the other hand, continues to have the most cases per capita in the metro by a wide margin, registering more than 1,800 cases per 100,000 — equal to about one in every 54 people.

In all, Johnson County has recorded 3,422 positive cases of COVID-19 and 95 related deaths.

Johnson County has surpassed Jackson County in cases by jurisdiction and is inching closer to Kansas City’s numbers, but remains far from Wyandotte. Photo via Johnson County COVID-19 dashboard.

JoCo averaging more than 100 cases per day

“Transmission has increased in Johnson County. We are now averaging about over 100 cases per day,” Director of Health and Environment Sanmi Areola, PhD, said in his written statement to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.

There’s also been an increase in clusters, Areola said.

This new wave of cases in the state isn’t associated with the virus mutating, said Johnson County Local Health Officer Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH, but likely an increase in mobility and behavior that leads to spread.

Cases up significantly in July

As testing capacity increases, so has the percent of positive tests coming back, which means more people are getting infected, Areola said. The percent of positive tests was 5.8% Wednesday and the seven day moving average was more than 10%. About a month ago, the moving average was at 4.5%. 

“In the first 10 days of July we had more cases reported than were reported in the entire month of June,” Areola said.

In the whole month of June, Johnson County reported 848 new cases. Between July 1 and July 10, the county recorded 920 new cases.

For the most part, the death rate in Johnson County and across the state hasn’t increased with the rising case totals, LeMaster said, because many of the newer cases are presenting in younger individuals. About a quarter of all cases recorded in the county are in people between the ages of 20 and 29. These cases are in people who are less likely to need hospitalization and suffer from bad outcomes related to complications, LeMaster said.

According to the Johnson County disease data dashboard, only one person in the 20 to 29-year-old age group has needed intensive care for COVID-19 complications and no deaths have been documented.

That doesn’t mean young people should go out and engage in high-risk behavior, said LeMaster.

“It is possible for young people to get COVID, get the complications and die,” LeMaster said. “It is also very possible for young people to pass on the infection to others in their family who are more susceptible because young people may be asymptomatic.”