KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Worldwide, the omicron variant’s arrival heralded a massive spike in cases followed by an increase in virus-related deaths, but the latest COVID-19 variant of concern was so contagious it tended to burn through the population quickly with a record number of infections that just as quickly dissipated.
That’s exactly what the Kansas City region experienced in recent months.
New COVID-19 cases rapidly climbed in December and reached record-shattering heights in January, but new data from state and local health departments analyzed by KSHB 41 shows that the omicron-fueled surge receded dramatically in February.
There were nearly 260,000 new cases confirmed in Missouri and nearly 200,000 in Kansas in January, but February brought a sharp decline to fewer than 55,000 new cases in Missouri and fewer than 35,000 in Kansas — a drop of 79% and 82%, respectively.
It was a similar story throughout the seven-county Kansas City region — Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas along with Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri — that we’ve monitored for two years with the KSHB 41 COVID-19 Tracker.
The Kansas City area set records for new COVID-19 cases in December 2021 (42,206) and January 2022 (111,465).
New cases remained high in February with nearly 22,000 reported, a nearly 81% plunge, but the record wave clearly has peaked. February 2022 brought with it the seventh-most cases for any month during the two years since COVID-19 gripped the region in March 2020.
Certainly, it’s welcome news that the pandemic’s high tide seems to be over, but the number of deaths reported last remained high, which is to be expected because the death trend tends to mirror the case trend with a three to six-week delay.
State and local health departments in Missouri reported an additional 1,154 deaths in February, down from 1,293 in January but still only the sixth month with more than 1,000 deaths during the pandemic.
There have been more than 16,600 confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19 during the last two years in Missouri. Only heart disease and cancer have killed more Missourians during that time.
Kansas reported 403 from COVID-19 in January, marking only the second time during the pandemic that the state recorded 400-plus deaths in consecutive months.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City area set a record with 508 deaths reported from COVID-19 in January. That figure dipped to 354 in February, but it still marks only the fourth month during the pandemic with 350-plus confirmed deaths.
There continue to be many Missouri counties, where probable deaths from COVID-19 far outpace confirmed deaths.
For instance, the state health department reports 11 deaths in Chariton County but 23 probable deaths from the virus.
The same data shows 97 deaths in Howell County with another 102 probable deaths — including 46 confirmed by antigen testing.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services only counts deaths as official if the COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed via PCR test.
But in addition to the more than 1.1 million confirmed cases and 15,400 confirmed deaths, according to state health department data, there were another 273,896 probable cases and 3,667 probable deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic through the end of February.
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