New COVID-19 cases plummet in Kansas

Mike Stucka
Florida Presbyterian Homes CEO Joe Xanthopoulos, dressed as Santa, receives a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination from Walgreens Pharmacist Ericka Gutierrez at the Florida Presbyterian Homes in Lakeland, Florida, on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Kansas reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Saturday, adding 9,340 new cases. That's down 38.5% from the previous week's toll of 15,189 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Kansas ranked No. 26 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,327,043 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -12.3% from the week before. Across the country, 6 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Testing has changed around the holidays, making comparisons difficult. Labs and testing sites closed. People traveled or prepared for the holidays instead of getting tested. Some counties and states didn't report data as quickly.

Across Kansas, cases fell in 98 counties, with the best declines in Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties.

>> See how your community has fared with recent coronavirus cases

The share of Kansas test results that came back positive was 29.5% in the latest week, compared with 37.7% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 31,398 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 40,089. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Within Kansas, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Pawnee, Labette and Rawlins counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Sedgwick County, with 1,869 cases; Johnson County, with 1,641 cases; and Wyandotte County, with 752. Weekly case counts rose in six counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Pawnee, Stevens and Meade counties.

In Kansas, 162 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 269 people were reported dead.

A total of 212,989 people in Kansas have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 2,503 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 18,982,634 people have tested positive and 331,909 people have died.