Another rise in the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at The University of Kansas Health System today. 38 people with the active virus are being treated today, up from 33 yesterday. Of those patients, ten are in the ICU, up from eight yesterday. Four of those ICU patients are on ventilators today, up from two yesterday. 34 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 36 yesterday. That’s a total of 72 patients, up from 69 yesterday. In addition, HaysMed has a total of 16 COVID-19 inpatients, same as yesterday, with ten of those active patients and six in the recovery phase.
Doctors report the higher numbers make them, “a little uneasy,” and hope this may be a 14-day high. They note the overall Kansas City numbers are still staying low.
On today’s Morning Media Update, Amanda Cackler, director of Quality and Safety at The University of Kansas Health System joined Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control and Steve Stites, chief medical officer, to answer media and community questions.
The panel discussed information coming out of Israel saying a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine gave 80 to 85 percent protection to 8,000 hospital workers. While it hasn’t been formally studied or peer-reviewed, they say that’s potentially good news and could impact how we view vaccine policy here in the United States. They say right now the FDA policy, which has not changed, is two shots.
Here are the media and community questions in the order the panel addressed them, followed by the short answer. See the video for their full answers and comments. Time code for the question is in parentheses.
- (7:47) Will the recent cold stretch have any effect on the number of COVID-19 cases in our area? It’s hoped people have not been gathering as much and exposing one another. We’ll know in a few weeks.
- (9:10) If COVID-19 is 99.6 percent curable why do I need the vaccine? There is no cure for COVID-19. The vaccines virtually eliminate deaths and significantly reduce hospitalizations and severe disease. 80 to 85 percent of people with the virus will not need to seek medical care and the overall mortality rate is 1.5 to 3 percent. It’s still highly transmissible.
- (12:25) If we’re so concerned about the spread of the virus, why are you not wearing masks right now? All three panelists are six feet apart, and the studio is designed as a negative airflow room. The masks go back on when the program ends.
- (14:00) Are we seeing the average age of hospital admissions decrease? The average age had been 55-57 but it’s increased to 58-60 in the pandemic.
- (14:40) Do you think a third shot will be needed to combat the new variants? The current thinking is we will all need a booster once a year which, like the flu vaccine, is reconfigured based on the expected changes in the virus.
- (16:05) A study in Spain found that 80 percent of COVID-19 patients were vitamin D deficient with men having greater deficiencies. Will taking vitamin D help protect against COVID-19? What does vitamin D do? Vitamin D is good for you in general but has no known protection against the virus.
- (17:30) Should you get the COVID-19 vaccine before or after a major surgery? Get it whenever it’s available to you.
- (17:45) What expectation should I have about the process for getting the vaccine? I hear stories of long lines. I'm 73 and can't wait in the cold. How should I prepare? There is no benefit to showing up early. If you have an appointment, there will be a dose waiting for you. If you show up at the scheduled time, you should not have to wait in a line and will get right into the vaccination clinic.
- (18:50) I had COVID-19 before and have antibodies. Will that protect me against the new virus variants? It’s too soon to know.
- (20:50) Will the medications they’re going to give my husband when he has his surgeries impact the effectiveness of the vaccine? It should have no effect.
- (21:40) If you have both doses of the vaccine and are around someone who tests positive, do you still need to isolate or quarantine? If so, for how long? Isolating means you have the virus and must stay away from others while a quarantine means you don’t have the disease but were exposed to someone who does. New guidance says you don’t need to quarantine if you are more than two weeks out from your second shot but within a 90-day window.
- (24:20) Can headaches and chest pain start two weeks after a positive test? I felt fine for days and now am having symptoms. While it’s possible, most symptoms happen within a week to ten days. Check with your doctor.
- (24:55) I have heard of people getting urinary tract infections, fever blisters, diverticulitis flare-ups, and blood clots after the second COVID-19 vaccine. Are these side-effects of the shot? These are not known side effects from the vaccine.
- (26:40) It's been nine days since my first shot and my arm is red and swollen where I received it. Is this normal? It’s unusual to last that long. Check with you doctor to see if something else may be the cause.
- (28:15) I heard it was not recommended to take Tylenol before the getting the vaccine, but I heard that after I got my shot. Am I still protected, or did I mess up? The CDC does not recommend taking it before the shot, but there’s been no harm discovered in doing so.
- (29:10) I was at my mother's independent living center as they were giving out vaccine. At the end of the day there were leftover doses, but nurses said they could not give to anyone outside of the current phase. What happens to those doses? Are they being wasted? Each facility handles things differently. At the health system, every effort is made to find someone who can come right in and get the vaccination.
Monday, February 22 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. Breast surgeon oncologist Dr. Kelsey Larson joins to update a radiation therapy for some cancer patients which couldn't have come at a better time. She will explain why it keeps patients safer during a pandemic while still providing the radiation they need. It's also for patients with earlier diagnosis, so another motivation to get screened. We will hear from a patient who just received this new treatment.
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