KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread into both Missouri and Kansas, and Kansas City metro county health officials are warning it will soon be the dominant strain nationwide.
An alarming trend, according to health officials, is that the newer cases are among young people.
"We’ve seen lower vaccination rates with younger folks, and a lot of that is because they don’t see COVID as much of a threat to their health," Hannah Conner, COVID-19 epidemiologist for the Unified Government Public Health Department, said, "but it’s still a threat to the population’s health."
Wyandotte County alone has reported 22 cases of the delta variant with one death, and 64% of the cases are among people under the age of 30.
"The vaccination trends in Wyandotte is that the older population has really gotten out there and got their vaccine, and I think it’s because they know that they are maybe a vulnerable population to COVID. They are more likely to get sick," Conner said.
Over in Jackson County, they too are seeing the same trends.
"A very low proportion of our youth aren’t partaking in any sort of preventative practices, such as mask wearing or social distancing," said Ray Dlugolecki, assistant public health director at the Jackson County Health Department.
Dlugolecki told 41 Action News they're seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. On average they saw 15 cases a day – now, it's 37. The vaccination rate sits around 40%.
"We’re talking about 60% of the eligible population are not partaking in any of the CDC guidance for unvaccinated individuals," Dlugolecki said.
And these numbers are alarming some parents.
"It’s definitely concerning," Chelsey Dye, a parent, said. "You know, I have little ones and older ones that I care about. I have grandparents still around, and it’s definitely something that I try to advocate to them to be active to protect themselves."
She said she's concerned because her children are too young to receive the vaccine, preventing them from getting sick.
"Like with my children, they want to do sleepovers, they want to have parties, they want to socialize," Dye said.
But others told 41 Action News they aren't as worried.
"Because I’m vaccinated, I don’t feel that it will effect me as much, so I’m not worried about it," KCMO resident Zawadi Twizele said.
Health officials stressed that vaccines work in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant. Vaccines remain free and accessible.
For more information or to learn more about how to received the vaccine, contact your local health department.