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Deaths & Hospitalizations Don’t Tell the Whole Story

NOTE: This COVID-19 post is over a year old and may contain outdated information. It has been left up for archival purposes only. For the most up-to-date information on masking, vaccines, and more, visit the CDC’s website.

We’re all eager to return to normal and get back to our normal lives. It takes all of us working together to keep each other safe so we can return to normalcy sooner rather than later. 

We encourage members of the community to check our data dashboard for case updates and many of you noticed we haven’t seen a spike in deaths and hospitalizations even as our case counts have increased. But focusing on one metric doesn’t tell the whole story. 

In the past couple of weeks, younger people aged 20 to 29 eclipsed the 80+ age group for the highest case rate. Right now, 19.45% of cases in Eastern Jackson County and 26% of cases in Kansas City are from people aged 20-29. 

The shift in cases by age can be explained by younger people resuming their social lives, while older people have stayed at home. With bars and restaurants opening back up, we’re seeing this shift across Jackson County. Large gatherings among younger people are causing many of our new cases. 

Younger adults usually experience milder symptoms and are less likely to be hospitalized or suffer from severe complications from the virus. We still do not know the long-term effects of this new disease. It’s possible some people who experience mild symptoms now could have serious complications later. 

Also, it takes time for cases to become hospitalizations and for hospitalizations to become deaths. A lag time exists between increases in cases and increases in deaths. This lag delays our understanding of how the disease is shifting.

We saw our highest daily case count and our highest weekly case count yet—158 cases on July 29 and 604 cases the week of July 26 through August 1. We will have to wait to see how many of these cases turn into hospitalizations and deaths.

What we do know is that cases were lower when everyone was staying at home and limiting contact with those outside of their immediate household. We don’t want to move backward. In order to curb further spread of this disease in our community, we all need to be taking mindful steps to protect ourselves and others.