Weekly COVID-19 Update: County sees uptick in new cases, percent positive rate

There were 735 new cases reported for the week of Oct. 11 in Johnson County, or about 105 new cases per day. Local Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster identified the increased need for hospital space for COVID-19 patients during the winter season, when healthcare facilities are already busy, as a top concern. 

Editor’s Note: In an effort to keep our readers informed of COVID-19 trends across Johnson County, the Shawnee Mission Post each Wednesday will publish a weekly update detailing the latest news and trends related to the novel coronavirus in our area. This is our third report.

The Shawnee Mission Post is making much of its local coverage of the coronavirus pandemic accessible to non-subscribers. (If you value having a news source covering the situation in our community, we hope you’ll consider subscribing here).

The percent positive test rate for COVID-19 in Johnson County climbed to 6.8% this week, up from 5.9% last week.

There were 735 new cases reported for the week of Oct. 11, or about 105 new cases per day. This is up more than 16% from the previous week. The county also saw an 8.4% increase in hospitalizations (compared to a 1.6% uptick the previous week) and a 7% increase in deaths.

Health officer concerned with increased need for hospitalization

Local Health Officer Joseph LeMaster identified the increased need for hospital space for COVID-19 patients during the winter season, when healthcare facilities are already busy, as a top concern. LeMaster said hospital capacities regularly get near 100% during the winter.

“The coronavirus situation has only made that more urgent, because now we’ve got a new source of about a 100-120 new hospitalizations per week in the Kansas City area that we didn’t have before,” he said.

As of now, the Kansas City area does have enough ICU beds and ventilators to meet COVID-19 patients’ needs, he said.

According to Johnson County Department of Health and Environment director Sanmi Areola the county’s goal is to have less than 50 new infections per 100,000 residents per week, with a positivity rate of 5% or less.

Public health officials continue to urge individuals to practice social distancing, frequently wash hands, and wear a mask in public — a mandate Johnson County residents can expect to encounter for the near future. Last week the Board of County Commissioners allowed Johnson County’s mask order to extend into November.

Key Trends

The cases per 100,000 residents is up over the last week from 225 about to 246. There was also an increase of more than 8.4% in hospitalizations. All data is from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s COVID-19 dashboard. We included data that was available as of October 21.
Total deaths were up 7% over last week, on par with the increase from the previous week. The majority, or 66% of deaths, have occurred in individuals aged 80 years old or older. Chart via JCDHE’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Vaccine update

In its regular COVID-19 briefing the University of Kansas Health System discussed distribution logistics for the vaccine Pfizer expects to have available by mid-November. Phil Griffin, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Director of Disease Control and Prevention, discussed how phased distribution of the Pfizer vaccine will be rolled out across Kansas, with the most vulnerable populations getting vaccinations first.

Griffin said KDHE is working to enroll providers now in preparation for the vaccine’s release.

“We’ve targeted first at hospitals that are caring for COVID patients, and also the health departments,” Griffin said.

Widespread availability of the vaccine is expected after mid-2021 and it is likely that several other vaccines will be introduced around the same time.

RECENT COVID-19 COVERAGE

Johnson County Health Reports

Click here to see a calendar of Johnson County COVID-19 testing events.