KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While new cases of COVID-19 dropped in Kansas for the seventh consecutive month in June, the emergence of the delta variant in Missouri sent cases soaring.
There were more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases in Missouri in June based on data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services along with local health departments.
It’s the most new cases since March 2021 and ends a stretch of six straight months of declines.
The reversal — which has filled hospitals particularly in southwest Missouri, spilling over to Kansas City and St. Louis — comes as officials ramp up campaigns to encourage vaccination with Fourth of July gatherings looming.
The June jump in Missouri represents a more than 56% spike in reported new cases.
Missouri reported only 9,618 new cases in May, which marked the first time the state had recorded fewer than 10,000 new cases in a month since June 2020.
The number of new cases in Kansas dropped nearly 17% to 3,933 last month, which is the fewest cases reported in the state in any month since March 2020.
Cases in the seven-county Kansas City area — Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas along with Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri — dropped 12% to 2,992 new cases in June., the fewest since May 2020.
There are, however, fears that cases could soon rise again as the delta variant, a mutated version of COVID-19 first detected in India, spreads into the state.
Wyandotte County reported an increase in positive cases involving the delta variant Thursday.
Researchers say the strain is more contagious and more virulent than the original COVID-19 virus, meaning it spreads faster and easier and leads to a higher rate of hospitalizations, especially among younger — usually unvaccinated — segments of the population.
The delta variant accounted for 75% of new cases in Kansas from June 14-28 and 67% of new cases in MIssouri from May 31 to June 14, according to research from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine University of Bern in Switzerland.
Increases in the COVID-19 viral load also have been detected in Platte County, according to the Sewershed Surveillance Project. Such spikes often precede a new wave of cases.