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COVID Hospitalizations Rising Fast in Kansas City Area

It’s hard to know for sure how COVID-19 infections are trending due to home testing and relaxed data reporting requirements. However, hospitalization data reported to the CDC shows hospital admissions are on the rise.

A bunch of medical swabs in vials waiting to be tested.
Swabs wait to be scanned and tested for Coronavirus Covid-19 at the pathology and laboratory medicine labs at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
(TNS) - COVID-19 patient numbers are on the rise at Kansas City area hospitals — and experts say that a new “wave” of the virus may be arriving in the metro.

“For the past couple of weeks we have seen an increase in our hospitalizations,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System. “There is concern that there is a new wave, or surge, of infections that is occurring right now.”

The hospital had 14 patients this week when data was collected on Tuesday, the same number as the week before.

While lower than past pandemic waves, these numbers are higher than the single-digit patient numbers seen earlier in the summer. And state level data shows that hospitalizations are on the rise in both Kansas and Missouri, including in all five counties in the Kansas City metro.

St. Luke’s Health System was treating 23 patients with COVID-19, while Liberty Hospital had four COVID-19 patients and Children’s Mercy Hospital had two as of Friday afternoon.

“We have had a slight uptick in COVID inpatients and testing,” St. Luke’s spokesperson Lindsey Stich told The Star.

“Liberty Hospital has seen an increase in the number of patients who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2,” spokesperson Michelle Maunel added. “However, unlike previous COVID upticks, we are experiencing frequent admissions and discharges in a steady flow, rather than all at once.”

Hawkinson noted that, because of vaccination, booster shots and previous infections, many Kansas Citians now have at least some immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. He expressed hope that this built-in protection will make the current uptick in patient numbers more mild than past pandemic surges.

“What kind of peak will that wave reach? We are not certain, but we are optimistic that it will be much, much lower than it has been for the past couple of years,” he said.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Kansas City area

It’s hard to know for sure how COVID-19 infections are trending due to home testing and relaxed data reporting requirements. However, hospitalization data reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) shows that COVID-19 hospital admissions are on the rise in both Missouri and Kansas.

County-level data shows that all five counties that make up the Kansas City metro area are seeing a “substantial increase” in new COVID-19 hospitalizations. For example, as of Aug. 26, Jackson County reported 70 new hospitalizations in the past week — an increase of 55.6% from the previous week.

During the last week of August, Missouri reported 282 hospital admissions for COVID-19 to the CDC. That’s more than triple the state’s total of 75 hospitalizations during the first week of July, just under two months earlier.

In Kansas, the increase is even more abrupt. The state recently saw COVID-19 hospitalization numbers nearly double in just one week, jumping from 57 during the week of Aug. 19 to 108 during the week of Aug. 26.

Just two months earlier, during the week of June 24, the state only reported 19 total COVID-19 hospitalizations to the CDC.

Missouri has reported 79 deaths in the past three months, while Kansas has reported 42. Weekly trends in COVID-19 deaths are not available for either state because the CDC does not record death totals fewer than 10.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you’re feeling sick — even if you’re not sure it’s COVID-19 — Hawkinson recommended staying home from work and isolating at home for five days.

Those feeling sick should also take a COVID test every 1-2 days to see whether they have COVID-19. He added that right now, more COVID-19 is circulating than other viruses like the flu and the common cold. That means a short, cold-like illness may actually be a COVID infection.

“Home tests do identify even these new variants,” Hawkinson said. “We know the sensitivity for these tests is about 75% up to four days after the symptoms start, so if you are negative on the first check, check again the next day or the day after that with a home test.”

While the federal government is no longer offering free at-home tests through the mail, there are a number of testing sites in the Kansas City area offering free testing for all. To find one year you, type in your ZIP code at

You can also buy at-home COVID-19 tests at most pharmacies. Most at-home tests now cost around $24 for a set of two.

What do I need to know about the new booster shot?

A new COVID-19 booster shot is only weeks away.

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant responsible for developing several COVID-19 vaccines throughout the pandemic, says it is close to obtaining approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a new booster shot. It could be available as soon as the end of the month.

The new vaccine is formulated to protect against a strain of the highly contagious omicron variant known as XBB. While this variant was recently usurped in the Kansas City region by another subvariant called EG.5, Hawkinson said that the new shot will still provide good protection against severe disease and hospitalization.

He advised that those eager to get another booster may want to wait until the new one is released in 3-4 weeks instead of seeking out another dose of last year’s bivalent booster shot.

“If you can hold off until the new one is available, that may be better,” he said. “But in the meantime, have a plan.”

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