Record number of new infections in Jackson County renews talk of rolling back reopenings

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County recorded its highest number of new coronavirus infections last week. As a result, some legislators are calling for more action to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Some believe only a regional approach can successfully slow down the virus.

There were 605 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths in eastern Jackson County last week, and that has put talk of rolling back reopenings back on the table.

During the last two weeks, more than 15% of testing in eastern Jackson County has had positive results.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that governments take action to make sure no more than 10% of a local population is testing positive for the coronavirus.

But Jackson County officials say they can’t drive the numbers down by themselves.

“If we are going to go back on the reopening, we need to go back as a region,” said Troy Schulte, county administrator. “I would argue Jackson County, along with Wyandotte county, have the most restrictive regulations. We have a 100 person limit, gathering limit in eastern Jackson County. Kansas City no longer has a gathering limit. Johnson County (Kansas) no longer has a gathering limit.”

Although more people are wearing masks in public, there is concern about a growing number of folks in Jackson County who claim to have a medical exemption from wearing a mask. Schulte says regulating that has proven to be difficult.

The four largest governmental jurisdictions in the region, Jackson County, Kansas City, Mo., Johnson County, Kan., and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County have yet to agree on a common strategy for fighting the virus.

For right now, Schulte says Kansas City, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan., are “wide open.”

Some fear the metro is likely to see the virus continue to spread as a result.

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