Coronavirus cases surge in Kansas

Mike Stucka
People wait in their cars to be tested for the coronavirus with drive-up rapid testing at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Oct. 23, 2020.

New coronavirus cases leaped in Kansas in the week ending Saturday, rising 38.4% as 17,751 cases were reported. The previous week had 12,829 new cases.

Kansas ranked No. 11 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,017,810 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 33.3% from the week before. Across the country, 48 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Within Kansas, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Washington, Nemaha and Sheridan counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Sedgwick County, with 3,666 cases; Johnson County, with 3,088 cases; and Shawnee County, with 937. Weekly case counts rose in 80 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties.

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The share of Kansas test results that came back positive was 58.7% in the latest week, compared with 37.1% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 30,467 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 33,538.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.

Across Kansas, cases fell in 24 counties, with the best declines in Norton, Ford and Ellsworth counties.

In the state, 86 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 73 people died.

A total of 117,523 people in Kansas have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,184 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 10,903,890 people have tested positive and 245,598 people have died.