KANSAS CITY, Mo. — COVID-19 numbers are falling in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, but two counties to the East are currently experiencing a pre-summer surge in cases.
Livingston and Linn Counties are recording a significant increase in case numbers, largely outpacing state and national numbers as seen in this graphic:
Both counties are two of the worst counties with COVID-19 cases per capita in the country, and they recently identified the COVID-19 Delta variant, first identified in India, as circulating in their communities, as well as the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
The Livingston County Health Center released a recent statement about the surge.
"We now know that Livingston County has two highly contagious COVID-19 variants circulating in the community. The good news is that treatment and prevention remain the same," it said in the statement.
However county officials say the community needs to do its part at helping stop the spread.
"The bad news is, without the help of our county residents, our hands are tied at doing much to slow down the spread of these variant cases locally," Sherry Weldon, county administrator, told 41 Action News.
"Totally vaccinated people are around 30% and we did start vaccinating children aged 12-17, and we have done some of those, (but) I can't say we've done a large number of those," Weldon said. "We feel like the majority of our positives are in that middle age group, which is 30 to 45 or 50, and none of those people, I can't say none, but a majority of those people haven't been vaccinated."
The Linn County Health Department administrator, Krista Neblock, also spoke to 41 Action News about the Delta variant.
"It's been our predominant variant here, which is more transmissible and contagious," she said. "It takes less of an amount of viral load to convert over into illness and we are seeing that holding true with our younger population that have health immune systems, and getting pretty sick."
Hospitalizations in both counties remain low, but community spread remains a significant concern, especially after Memorial Day and with the Fourth of July on the horizon.
"Obviously summer has a lot of big celebrations and last year, people didn't get to have them so Memorial Day, we saw several big celebrations going, looking at the 4th, people missed out on that stuff," Neblock said. "Our concern is really providing education that if you are not vaccinated, and even if you are vaccinated, with this amount of spread and the variants that are here, you should still be taking precautions and being careful with how you're interacting with people in the community."