KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The number of COVID-19 cases are increasing in the Kansas City metro, as well as across the country.

According to statistics kept by the Mid-America Regional Council, the number of cases have been slowly increasing in the metro area since April.

“I think we are in the throes of it and that’s just what is happening and that’s what we have seen really started happening since we’ve had that delta, omicron variant. It’s just now this new variant is coming in. I think we are kind of in the throes of it as a nation, and we’re probably still in the early stage of it here in our community,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the University of Kansas Health System, said during an update provided by the health system.

But, experts warn that doesn’t tell the entire story, and the number of cases are actually a lot higher than we know right now.

They said the discrepancy is due to the thousands of of positive cases across the country that aren’t included in the count because they were diagnosed through home tests.

“I think when we look at things like community transmission levels, we’re really looking at the best possible scenario, and even that is kind of bleak at the moment,” Amber Schmidtke, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of St. Mary, said during the same update.

Schmidtke said the at-home tests are fantastic at letting people know if they are positive for COVID-19, but they aren’t great for the people trying to track and manage resources during different waves of outbreaks.

“It’s a murky sort of situation right now. We know that things are on the rise, but we don’t have a firm grasp of just how high things are,” Schmidtke said.

Both experts said people who are immunocompromised may want to decide to begin taking precautions again, like wearing a mask or avoiding large gatherings. For others, they said it may be time to consider moving large gatherings outside to give people more room.

“I’ve heard more and more stories, more and more anecdotes of people who’ve survived two years without having been infected with SARS-CoV-2, and now they are getting infected,” Hawkinson said.

They believe cases are being underreported because of information received through Missouri’s sewershed project data from the Kansas City area.

That data shows that a wide area of the metro is stable, but two areas are seeing a large increase in the virus in the wastewater: The Liberty area as well as Johnson County, Kansas.

“What is means is these are people who are shedding it in their fecal material because maybe they are clearing an infection, or their immune system is starting to kill off that infection, and the waste products of that virus are what we’re detecting in the water,” Schmidtke said

Experts use the information to help detect when an increase in COVID-19 cases are coming and when the peak will arrive.

Both experts agree the best way to avoid COVID-19 is to make sure you are vaccinated and have the recommended number of boosters.

They also say to educate yourself about what is happening in your community and make your own decision to take precautions if you believe you should to keep yourself safe.

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