KANSAS CITY, Mo. — October was the deadliest month for the COVID-19 pandemic in the history of the seven-county Kansas City metro, Kansas and Missouri, according to data compiled from state and local health departments for the 41 Action News Daily COVID-19 Tracker.
The number of cases also continued to skyrocket in October, reaching record levels across the bi-state region.
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The number of deaths reported in October in Missouri climbed more than 53%, from a then-record 597 in September to 915 in October.
Despite the increase of cases in Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson, who himself tested positive for the virus alongside his wife, Teresa, said as recently as September that the state's COVID-19 data was encouraging. Those comments came at the same time a federal report listed Missouri in the "red zone."
Part of the spike in deaths — nearly 48% of all deaths in Missouri have been reported in the past two months — can be attributed to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ review of death certificates. But the vast majority of those deaths have occurred in September and October as the pandemic rages on in the Midwest.
In June, Parson said he does not take "personal responsibility" for those who died from the virus.
Kansas, however, hasn’t been immune. The state reported 351 deaths in October — a 55.3% increase from September, which set the previous record with 226 deaths reported.
In Kansas, 577 of the 1,029 deaths reported from COVID-19, or more than 56%, have been reported in September and October.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly instituted a statewide mask mandate in June, though 90 counties opted out. On Oct. 21, Kelly again spoke in favor of such a mandate. However, days later, leaders on both sides of the political aisle pledged bipartisan support in increasing voluntary mask usage.
There were only 452 deaths reported by state and local health departments in Kansas from March through the end of August.
The seven-county Kansas City area — Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas — saw a similar jump.
There were 234 COVID-19 deaths reported in October compared to a then-record 140 in September, a 67.1% increase month over month.
Dennis Wilson, of Johnson County, was one of the first death’s in the KC metro due to the virus. His wife, Joanna, also contracted the virus. She recently reflected on the pandemic and loss of her husband as Kansas surpassed 1,000 COVID-19 deaths.
And still, the pandemic shows little sign of abating with record numbers of new cases also reported in October.
The KC area reported 14,408 new infections in October, an increase of more than 35% from September.
Previously, the metro’s highest case count was in July with nearly 12,500 reported coronavirus cases. During that time, area health leaders said another shutdown could be inevitable if precautions were not taken. As of October, no further shutdowns had been implemented.
Kansas saw cases spike to more 25,851 reported in October, which is a 47% jump from September, while new cases in Missouri reached 59,737 — or nearly 1,930 per day — in October.
The previous record for most cases in a month in Missouri was 45,609 in September, a figure that spiked nearly 31% in October. Throughout the pandemic, Parson has said he has no plans to institute a statewide mask mandate, and instead urged personal responsibility through social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask when distance can't be maintained.