KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department has seen a 1,100% increase in child COVID-19 cases since June.
In August, there were 606 reported COVID-19 cases in children younger than 12 in Kansas City, Missouri.
As we move into Labor Day weekend, PLEASE protect your children, our children.— KCMO Health Dept (@KCMOHealthDept) September 2, 2021
August data below. Will September be better or worse?
GET VACCINATED. WEAR YOUR MASK. #VaccinesSaveLives #VaccinesSaveSchools pic.twitter.com/92371ZcU4V
That's the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in Kansas City children younger than 12 since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the department.
With 407 cases per 100,000 children, Interim Director Frank Thompson said that puts the city above the "high risk" threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC has said there's a high risk of transmission among children in areas with anything more than 200 cases per 100,000 people.
Children are more impacted by COVID-19 now, according to Thompson, because of the delta variant, whereas they weren't so much affected at the beginning of the pandemic.
“August [is] the worst month of the pandemic for those under 18, and in particular those under age 12. Early on in this pandemic, we didn’t see a lot of numbers among kids. With this delta variant, that has changed,” Thomspon said.
The number released Thursday, Thompson said, barely accounts for an expected back-to-school increase since most students have only been back in the classroom for a couple weeks.
The data in September will be more indicative of the effects of the return to school, according to Thompson.
Children's Mercy is seeing a record number of COVID-19 patients, Thompson said — more than any other point in the pandemic.
The dramatic rise isn't surprising to some parents.
"I feel like when the state decides to open up so quickly without a plan really, that's what's to be expected," Amber Hoskins, a parent, said. "So no, it didn't shock me at all."
Hoskins said her daughter's school, KCPS' Central Middle School, is bracing for the possibility of another surge in the coming weeks.
"Recently, they informed the kids to start taking their laptop, start taking them home every day, just in case there's an outbreak," Hoskins said. "They’re social distancing and wearing masks."
From May through the end of August, 1,203 children younger than 18 were hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to health department data.
Imagine their confusion and their parents' fear. Protect our most vulnerable!— KCMO Health Dept (@KCMOHealthDept) September 2, 2021
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With a 43.2% vaccination rate, Kansas City can "do better for our children," the health department said via Twitter.
Can we do better for our children, Kansas City? Our completed vaccination rate is currently at 43.2%. Children under 12 (who can't be vaccinated!) rely on US to stop the virus & all its variants. Are you doing your part? Please protect them over Labor Day weekend! #WearAMask pic.twitter.com/65GoSp8EsP— KCMO Health Dept (@KCMOHealthDept) September 2, 2021
Thomspon urged people close to children to employ multiple mitigation strategies to keep Kansas City's youngest safe.
That's more than just masking, Thompson said. People should also consider physically distancing, frequent hand-washing and disinfecting high-use surfaces in their mitigation efforts.
People who might be tired of masking, or who don't want their children to mask, should consider the effects of their actions on other people's live, Thompson said.
“Not only are you really taking a gamble with your kid’s health and safety, but you’re willing to take a gamble with the health and safety of the kids that they’re in the classroom with, that they encounter in the lunchroom," Thompson said. "You may know about the health status of your child and feel confident that your child can get COVID and be OK, but what about all those other children that they’re in contact with? Are you really willing to put someone else’s child in the hospital because it’s inconvenient for your child to wear a mask?”
Still, Thompson recognized people are feeling pandemic fatigue, and there is a real need to continue with other business.
“A year and a half of mitigation measures is a lot," he said. "From a public health perspective, would we have liked to have seen some of those mitigations remain in place? Yes. But you always have to balance that against some of the other public interest in terms of for the city, revenue and activity."
The department's tweets Thursday also urged people to get vaccinated, underlining the significance of Pfizer's Food and Drug Administration approval.
Low vaccination rates in the city correlate "almost exactly" to where the department is seeing high case numbers right now, Thompson said.
Thompson reiterated it's especially important for people around children on a regular basis to get vaccinated.
“That under-12 population cannot be vaccinated, so they are really dependent on everyone around them being vaccinated and taking mitigation measures to protect them, because they can’t do it themselves," Thompson said.
The data is just from the KCMO Health Department and does not include data from area county health departments.
More information can be found at the health department website.