‘The situation we find ourselves in is harrowing’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Jackson County health department sent a letter to the community on Friday warning of the increase in COVID-19 cases across the county.

“Jackson County – the situation we find ourselves in is dire,” the letter began.

This week the number of COVID-19 cases in the province is the highest ever at 1,203 cases per 100,000 people, more than double the last record, and it continues to rise.

The letter said nearly every hospital in the region is near or out of capacity, leading to reduced bed availability and longer waiting times.

“The reality is we’re already rationing healthcare,” said Dr. Steven Stites, Chief Medical Officer of the University of Kansas Health System. “We have to redistribute care among some; we have to postpone operations. We are canceling clinics. We are not getting everyone in.”

The letter also pointed out that as hospital admissions increase, more medical professionals are missing their jobs due to COVID-19 infections, causing staff shortages.

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

This phenomenon does not only occur in the medical world. Schools in the Kansas City area are seeing spikes in both staff and student absenteeism.

RELATED | Kansas City school districts see higher absenteeism rates as COVID-19 cases rise

“Hospitals are not the only ones affected by this wave; long-term care facilities, schools and emergency services are all experiencing disruptions,” the letter said.

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

The letter urged county residents to wear masks in public, maintain social distancing, avoid risky activities and stay home when sick.

“Be sure to get vaccinated and boosted quickly,” the letter said. “This is the single most important action you can take; the vast majority of patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 are not vaccinated. Vaccination dramatically lowers the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. These simple actions make a huge difference to our entire community.”

We want to hear from you about the resources that Kansas City families can take advantage of to help us all through the pandemic. If you have five minutes, feel free to take this survey to guide our coverage: KSHB COVID Survey.


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