Could Kansas see a surge in variant cases after July 4 weekend? Experts say it’s too soon to tell

Coronavirus

TOPEKA (KSNT) – After a holiday weekend filled with family, fun, and events, could Kansas experience a surge in new coronavirus cases? It’s a question health officials are still trying to answer, especially as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.

A spokesperson for the state’s health department said in an email to Kansas Capitol Bureau on Tuesday that it’s too soon to tell how many coronavirus and Delta variant cases have emerged after this weekend’s events.

“COVID-19 and the Delta variant’s impacts over the holiday weekend are not yet fully known. Positive tests are reported to us on a regular basis but may not always be reported immediately, meaning positive tests from this weekend may take a few days to show in our numbers. Additionally, if someone was exposed this weekend, a test may not be conducted until later. A person has to test positive for COVID-19 before sequencing for variants can be done as well. We hope to have a better idea of how the weekend played out in the coming days and weeks.”

KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT

The state said it’s seen an “increasing” amount of Delta variant cases.  According to state data, as of Tuesday, the case count is at 358 total for that variant, also identified as B.1.617.2.

State health officials said they’re keeping an eye on the variant as it spreads across the state.

“It spreads more quickly than COVID-19 and earlier variants, and we’re seeing it in surrounding states. We wanted everyone to just be very mindful that we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Marci Nielsen, Chief Advisor of Vaccine Distribution.

Nielsen said the majority of these variant cases they’re seeing are among people that are unvaccinated.

The state is also encouraging more people to get tested. The state’s monthly testing rate has declined over the past few months. In January, 139,286 new people were tested compared to last month in June with a total of only 31,633. A significantly lower amount of people received tests heading into the holiday break compared to prior weeks.

A chart recording state data on “Percent Positive and Number of Negative and Positive COVID-19 PCR Tests Performed by Laboratory Test Date” shows a lower amount of tests performed heading into the holiday break. About 441 tests were done Friday, July 2. That’s a drop from the week prior on Friday, June 25, where about 2,867 tests were performed.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard will be updated on Wednesday and Friday. For those who aren’t vaccinated, the state is encouraging testing, www.KnowbeforeyougoKS.com, as well as preventative measures such as staying home if ill, mask use, social distancing and good hygiene.

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