COVID-19 highlights for the week of 12/27/21:
- Increasing prevalence of COVID-19 throughout the region is adding to staffing shortages in the healthcare system (including EMS, hospitals, public health, long term care facilities, home health, etc).
- Near record-high hospital patient demand with COVID-19 complicated by staffing shortages is overcrowding hospitals.
- The Kansas City Aviation Department expects to see more than 415,000 passengers will fly through KCI during holiday travel (Dec 17 – Jan 3) — a 53% increase compared to last year and well-over the 300,000 travelers this past Thanksgiving.
- Community prevalence of COVID-19 continues to grow throughout the Kansas City Metro Region and surrounding counties, as indicated by increases in cases.
- Cautiously interpret the daily average of COVID-19 cases over this holiday period. Many agencies that share the task of monitoring and reporting COVID-19 data will be observing the holiday, which could affect data trends for the region throughout the holiday period.
- New cases of COVID-19 continue to be a majority people who have not been vaccinated. Cases are often less severe among vaccinated individuals who do become infected.
- All communities within our region remained at a high level of transmission as defined by the CDC (see below). This means that all of our 18 communities experienced over 100 new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7-days and that the percentage of positive NAAT tests exceeded 10% in the past 7-days. CDC’s current 7-days is Mon Dec 13 2021 – Sun Dec 19 2021 for case rate and Sat Dec 11 2021 – Fri Dec 17 2021 for percent positivity.
What Can I Expect?
- High overall hospital volume may lead to longer wait times for emergency services and a decreased availability of local hospital beds.
- Challenges in the hospital system are expected to continue to worsen due to the compounding effects of:
- The ongoing holiday season leading to more gatherings, crowds and travel
- Relaxed masking requirements in certain jurisdictions
- Low vaccination rates
- Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and other Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI)
Given our experience from last year, challenges could continue well into 2022.
- Continued reporting irregularities due to the ongoing holiday season.
What Can I Do?
- Mask Up: CDC guidance recommends that everyone in communities with high or substantial levels of community transmission wear a mask in public indoor settings (CDC). You can check the transmission status of your community or those you intend to visit on the CDC Covid Data Tracker.
- Get tested: If you have travel plans for the holidays, make sure to include a COVID-19 test prior to travel as part of those plans and added caution upon return, including monitoring for symptoms and testing if symptoms arise. Get tested after potential exposures and before gathering with vulnerable loved ones.
- Get vaccinated or get your vaccine booster: Check with your primary care physician or pediatrician’s office on where to find a vaccine near you. You may also visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233; or visit Prepare Metro KC (preparemetrokc.org).
- Follow Guidance: Continue to follow your local public health guidance regarding isolation and quarantine.
- Seek Appropriate Care: Use your Primary Care Physician or an Urgent Care Facility as an alternative to Emergency Rooms when appropriate. Do not use ERs for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. Visit PrepareMetroKC to see testing locations near you.
- Minimize Risk: As community prevalence of COVID-19 continues to climb, it may be time to re-evaluate your activities, particularly in advance of being in close quarters with more vulnerable loved ones during holiday gatherings.
- Use Proven Best Practices: See CDC’s “Safer Ways to Celebrate Holidays” on other ways to mitigate risk and stay safe.