Jackson County Health Department: 'The situation we are in is dire'

Jackson County Health Department
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 18:43:30-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Health Department issued a letter to the community Friday warning about the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the county.

"Jackson County – the situation we are in is dire," the letter began.

This week, the COVID-19 case rate in the county is the highest it has ever been with 1,203 cases per 100,000 people, more than double the last record high, and it is continuing to increase.

The letter said that nearly every area hospital is close to or beyond capacity, which has resulted in decreased bed availability and longer wait times.

“The reality is we’re already rationing healthcare," University of Kansas Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Stites said. "We’re having to redistribute care to some; we’re having to defer surgeries. We’re canceling clinics. We’re not able to get everybody in.”

The letter also pointed out that while hospitalizations are going up, more medical professionals are having to miss work due to COVID-19 infections, causing staffing shortages.

RELATED | University of Kansas Health System had highest number of patients with active COVID-19 infections

This phenomenon is not just happening in the medical field. Schools across the Kansas City area are seeing surges in both staff and student absences.

RELATED | Kansas City school districts see higher absence rates as COVID-19 cases surge

"Hospitals aren’t alone in being affected by this surge; long-term care facilities, schools, and emergency services are all facing disruptions," the letter said.

Multiple districts, including the Bonner Springs Edwardsville School District and the De Soto School District, have had to close school temporarily due to high staff and/or student absence rates.

The letter urged that county residents wear a mask in public, maintain social distance, avoid high-risk activities and stay home when sick.

"Above all, get vaccinated and boosted promptly," the letter said. "This is the single most important action you can take; the vast majority of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Vaccination dramatically lowers the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death. These simple actions make a huge difference for our whole community."

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