COVID ebbs, but surge underreported
New numbers again suggest that January’s unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases is ebbing in February.
But they also suggest that the true extent of the surge was hidden by delayed reporting of new cases in Marion County.
Daily totals for new cases going back as far as November were revised — almost always upward, often by significant margins — in new data released this week by Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
A week ago, state officials were reporting that Marion County had recorded 604 new cases of COVID in the six weeks that ended Feb. 7.
Revised data Monday put that total at 1,007 — a 66.7% increase over what had been reported just a week earlier.
Marion County’s peak week for infection, the week that ended Jan. 16, went from having had 180 cases in data released a week ago to having 324 cases in data released Monday — an 80% increase.
Percentage increases for other weeks include a 59.5% increase for the week that ended Jan. 9, an 81.2% increase for the week that ended Jan. 23, a 72.5% increase for the week that ended Jan. 30, and an 85.2% increase for the week that ended Feb. 7.
All of those weekly numbers of new cases, indicating the date on which symptoms became apparent, are massively above what had been record-high totals from a year ago.
Weekly totals in January a year ago were 77, 66, 62, 48, and 29. This year, the equivalent numbers were 81, 142, 324, 291, and 119.
Given the state’s recent tendency to increase daily totals, it’s probably too early to compare final 2021 data to preliminary 2022 data for February.
However, both weeks of February 2022 already are double last year’s totals — 50 compared to 25 for the week that ended Feb. 6 and 30 compared to 15 for the week that ended Sunday.
Declining weekly totals are reflected in reduced numbers of patients under isolation orders in the county.
In their weekly briefing Monday morning, county health officials said 51 county residents were under isolation orders with active cases of COVID. That’s compares with 89 a week earlier.
County officials also reported one additional death, the 39th in the county. However, death reports often are delayed by as much as several months.
Overall, Marion County continues to be more susceptible to COVID than the rest of Kansas.
According to KDHE, 27.71% of county residents have come down with the disease since the pandemic began. Statewide, the percentage is two points less at 25.81%.
Neighboring counties all have lower infection rates:
Test kits available
The county health department has received a shipment of COVID-19 antigen tests to distribute to the public. Free tests are limited to one per person.
People recently exposed to COVID are being urged to call (620) 382-2550 rather than visit the department at 504 S. Roosevelt St. in Marion to obtain a test kit.