Coronavirus Media Briefing Friday 2-26-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


            Another drop in the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at The University of Kansas Health System. 23 people with the active virus are being treated today, down from 24 yesterday. Of those patients, ten are in the ICU, up from eight yesterday. Two of those ICU patients are on ventilators today, down from six yesterday. 32 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, up from 30 yesterday. That’s a total of 55 patients, up from 54 yesterday. In addition, HaysMed has a total of 13 COVID-19 inpatients, down from 14 yesterday, with eight of those active patients and five in the recovery phase.          

            On today’s Morning Media Update, Vince Key, MD, head team physician for The Kansas City Royals, joined live from spring training in Surprise, Arizona to discuss how the camp looks different this year. He, along with Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control and David Wild, MD, VP of performance improvement, answered media and community questions.                                                            

            Dr. Key explained the team has been preparing for this spring training in the pandemic since the end of the last season. A lot will be different, including how they eat. Normally they would eat together inside. Now they are on tables outside and spread apart eating individually prepared and wrapped meals. They are all tested every other day and all players and staff will wear a monitor. Weight rooms, rehab and physical therapy have been moved outside to tents on unused fields, since the minor league players are not there. They’ll arrive after the major league team heads back to Kansas City in April. Everyone wears a mask and observes social distancing, and unlike past years when there have been hordes of news media and fans, only two newspaper reporters are there. Fans will be limited to 25% of the normal capacity for games and will be spread out. That will be the same percent allowed into Kauffman Stadium for the regular season. Overall, Dr. Key says there is a different team energy in camp this year. With the mix of new players and veterans, he thinks the Royals are going to surprise a lot of people with how competitive they will be this year.         

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.

  • (11:10) My family had COVID-19 at Thanksgiving. Do we have immunity still? You likely have partial immunity, but we don’t know to what extent.
  • (12:30) Now that county health departments have control of the vaccine and will only let hospitals vaccinate people living in their specific counties, is this going to slow down access to the vaccine?  What happened to go anywhere you can to get a shot? Right now, supply is still a challenge, but with a third vaccine likely coming soon it will ease the problem.
  • (14:20) Are the Royals planning to vaccinate the players or will it be up to each individual? Major League Baseball has no plan for vaccinating players right now as they are in a lower priority phase. They will be offered the vaccine when it’s their turn.
  • (15:30) Will the team require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test in order for fans to enter the stadium? No word of any plan for that, but masking and social distancing will be enforced.
  • (16:50) Which vaccine is safe for someone who has severe anaphylaxis?  My reactions stem from food and environmental triggers. All vaccines are safe as food allergies and environmental triggers don’t play a part in how they work.
  • (17:20) What is the role of T cells in COVID-19 infection? I've read that even without antibodies, our T cells can remember the viruses we've had.  Does that offer protection against COVID-19? They play a substantial role in our immune function, including fighting COVID-19.
  • (19:45) We hit the half million death mark due to COVID-19 on Monday, which is closing in on the 675,000 people killed by the Spanish flu in 1918. There were no vaccines for the Spanish flu. What does the modeling show for total expected deaths by COVID-19 now that we have vaccines? Vaccines probably won’t have a big enough impact soon enough to prevent us from exceeding the Spanish Flu level.
  • (24:10) What precautions do you recommend for youth and high school baseball as they start back up this spring? Same as last year, masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer. Everyone in the dugout needs to be wearing a mask. May need to consider fewer games and tournaments.
  • (25:50) Any words of advice for those of us who are primary caregivers (unvaccinated) to our elderly vaccinated parents? The continued stress and fear of giving them COVID-19 is taking a toll. Vaccines prevent severe disease and death. Keep masking and social distancing.
  • (27:05) I read that the mortality rate in the ICU's between March and October of last year went from 60% to 36%.  Is that because of a change in the virus or in treatments? And what can we expect from the new variants? Inpatient treatments have made a big difference. So has the practice of waiting longer to put patients on a ventilator. Also, ICU’s are not as overwhelmed now.
  • (30:40) If the vaccines result in more asymptomatic or less symptomatic cases, will contact tracing still occur? Is there a reason for the public to know where the outbreaks happen in the future? Until a majority of the population is vaccinated, contact tracing will still be needed.
  • (32:15) I've read that long-haulers have received some relief from their ongoing symptoms after getting vaccinated. Is this true?  There does not appear to be a mechanism for that.
  • (32:50) When will the vaccine receive full FDA approval instead of emergency use authorization approval? Difficult to say because clinical trials among different groups are continuing and a long-term safety profile is needed.
  • (34:20) Do you know why the Missouri COVID-19 vaccine form asks if you have received any other vaccinations recently? CDC guidance says you should spread any other vaccinations, the shingles for example, apart by two weeks.
  • (35:55) Do we know when somebody in their mid-40’s in Johnson County might reasonably expect to get vaccinated? Best estimate is summer before the phases open to that group.

            Monday, March 1 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. James Stowe with Mid-America Regional Council and Jana Jackson, Call Center Manager here at the health system, explain how folks who lack computer skills or equipment can get in line to get the vaccine.

ATTENTION: media procedure for calling in:

 The meeting is available by Zoom, both video and by phone. To join the Zoom Meeting by video, click

Telephone dial-in Participants: For those without Zoom, call 1-312-626-6799, meeting ID: 782 897 8628.

The feed is also available via TVU grid. The TVU source is UoK_Health and is being made available to all.

Feel free to send questions in advance to