NBC Report On White House Task Force Names Kansas City Area Counties Among Top COVID-19 Hot Spots
Most cases appear to be connected to the Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, and the Lansing Correctional Facility.
A White House task force has raised alarm about COVID-19 spread in several counties in and around the Kansas City area, according to an unreleased report.
On Monday, NBC News reported on a May 7 document created by the coronavirus task force that identified Jackson and Buchanan Counties in Missouri and Leavenworth County, Kansas, as some of the main locations of concerns for COVID-19 spread.
The document labeled Jackson County among ten “locations to watch” nationally, due to 235 cases discovered in the previous seven days.
Leavenworth County and Buchanan County were listed among the ten “locations with increasing cases." The document showed 587 new cases in Leavenworth County and 310 new cases in Buchanan County in the previous seven days.
Most of the cases appear to be connected to two facilities: the Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, and the Lansing Correctional Facility. Surveillance testing found hundreds of mostly asymptomatic cases in both places.
In a statement to KCUR, Jackson County health department spokesperson Kayla Parker acknowledged the growing case numbers and encouraged residents to remain vigilant as social distancing guidelines are eased.
"As we begin the process of opening back up, it is essential that we continue to monitor this data," Parker wrote. "We are currently experiencing minimal to moderate spread in Eastern Jackson County with three separate clusters of cases. Citizens’ adherence to guidelines in our Phase 1 plan is crucial, and will inform whether we see future spikes in cases or are able to proceed to future phases of recovery in a timely manner."
Some elected officials, including Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, have dismissed the cases discovered at these facilities, saying they do not represent unchecked COVID-19 spread within communities.
However, Case Western Reserve University infectious disease researcher Daniel Tisch say that the high numbers of cases discovered in these "contained communities" may indicate a higher risk of transmission in the surrounding area.
"These contained communities are not truly contained," Tisch says. "Certainly, the individuals working in the facilities go back into (their own neighborhoods). Individuals are released from the (contained) communities. And we’d imagine that this is really more of a large community that we all exist in. And this is part of the transmission dynamic.