TOPEKA (KSNT) – While Kansas health officials have cited a noticeable upward trend in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads with ferocity, data from a leading virus tracker says the state is still better off than its nearby neighbors.
A map created by the Associated Press with data from Johns Hopkins University shows Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri are being hit especially hard. Louisiana reported its second-highest total of new COVID-19 cases since early January this week. The state also reported its highest hospitalization count since early February. Its per capita case rate is 307% higher than it was just two weeks ago, according to New York Times data.
Arkansas’ number of new cases topped 1,000 in a day this week – a figure that hasn’t been that high since February. Other Southern states are also seeing spikes in case rates. Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and pockets of Texas are also seeing lots of new cases.
Kansas isn’t quite at the same level as these states, but its eastern edges are seeing some of the spike. Shawnee County alone has seen five consecutive weeks of increasing cases “driven by the emergence of the Delta variant,” according to the local health department, resulting in it recommending residents start wearing masks indoors, regardless of if they’re vaccinated.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is also aware of the trend in COVID-19 cases, and attributed it to half of Kansans that have “refused to get a vaccine that is safe.” She announced Wednesday that anyone in a county marked as a COVID-19 hot zone will have to wear a mask again inside state buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
The Northeast, upper Midwest and much of the Western states aren’t seeing nearly as many cases per 100,000 people – though there are a few pockets of Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington that are looking increasingly concerning. Those regions have higher vaccination rates than Southern states.
Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana are four of the five least-vaccinated U.S. states, according to the New York Times. The interactive map, which shows the rolling 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases, is updated daily.