Has Omicron peaked in Johnson County? Health officials say don’t get hopes up as cases remain ‘astonishingly high’

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Residents hoping that the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic is waning in Johnson County shouldn’t get too enthusiastic about what appeared like a lower in new case charges this week, say public well being officers, who described the county’s newest numbers as a downward “blip” and nonetheless “astonishingly excessive.”

County Public Well being Officer Joseph LeMaster and Director Sanmi Areola spoke in numerous venues Thursday morning, giving barely completely different takes on how the county is doing.

LeMaster, who appeared on the College of Kansas Well being System’s day by day COVID-19 briefing on Fb, was barely extra hopeful.

“There’s a tiny blip that exhibits a coming down,” and the county could also be nearing its peak, he stated. Wastewater monitoring — a predictor of the place the virus is trending — additionally exhibits some declines, he added.

That stated, “the numbers are nonetheless astonishingly excessive,” LeMaster stated.

Later Thursday, in an replace to the county fee, Areola addressed a graph on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard during which the incidence price of circumstances appeared to zag sharply downward this week.

Picture by way of Johnson County Division of Well being and Atmosphere COVID-19 dashboard.

The incidence price, which is expressed as circumstances per 100,000 residents, continues to be holding pretty regular at 1,835, Areola stated, and the county’s positivity price stands at 29.8%.

That compares with per week in the past, when well being officers reported an incidence price of 1,939 and positivity of 30.8%.

Areola stated the sharply dipping chart line recorded Tuesday was the results of a lag in testing over the three-day vacation weekend.

He additionally didn’t pin any hope to the wastewater monitoring report both, saying that the information was not but prepared to investigate.

Vaccination price slows down

There’s additionally been gradual progress on vaccination of the youngest eligible group, youngsters 5 via 11, Areola stated. About 40% of that group have now obtained no less than a primary dose.

Areola urged mother and father to get the shot for his or her kids due to the chance of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, a severe however uncommon situation in some kids that has been linked to COVID-19.

The variety of individuals within the county thought-about to be absolutely vaccinated is at 65.3%, in keeping with county information, with about three quarters of residents having been no less than partially vaccinated.

Nevertheless, demand for a primary shot has slowed significantly, Areola stated. About 37.3% of residents have obtained a booster.

Each LeMaster and Areola confused that the variety of circumstances continues to be too excessive and that folks ought to get the vaccine and proceed to put on masks in indoor settings.

The CDC has advisable higher-efficiency masks corresponding to N95s and KN95s as a result of the most recent variant is a lot simpler to unfold via the air.

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Metropolis masks mandates

On the KU well being briefing, LeMaster praised 4 Johnson County cities which have reimposed masks necessities. However he stated enforcement points have made it troublesome for commissioners to resume a countywide order.

Orders requiring masks in most publicly accessible locations went into impact Tuesday in Fairway, Mission, Prairie Village and Roeland Park. Particular person violators in these cities might be fined as much as $25.

County well being departments can now not situation a masks order on their very own, LeMaster stated, however stated Johnson County stays in a “higher state of affairs” than many different Kansas counties relating to navigating the pandemic politically.

“As a result of we now have a bunch of commissioners who, in the primary, are working very carefully with us, listening to us, speaking to us. We seek the advice of with them frequently,” he stated.

Masking necessities can be advisable if attainable, LeMaster stated. However at this level there’s been sufficient resistance from individuals who don’t wish to masks up that enforcement by overstressed sheriff’s deputies or police appears impractical.

The damaging response to masks guidelines may also make for a extra harmful state of affairs, LeMaster stated, with individuals deliberately flouting masks necessities.

Proper now officers ought to think about doing what they’ll to assist hospitals which are nonetheless crushed by the elevated variety of circumstances, LeMaster stated.

Areola additionally stated individuals must be urged to proceed to do the appropriate factor.

“We have to take sufficient steps to be consequential to ensure we don’t keep up at this stage of an infection. That doesn’t bode nicely for the well being of our residents,” he stated.

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