Coronavirus Media Briefing Friday 7-2-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


The number of COVID-19 patients at The University of Kansas Health System has declined slightly today. 10 patients with the active virus are being treated, down from 12 yesterday. Four of those patients are in the ICU, down from five yesterday, with three of those patients on ventilators, also down from yesterday. Seven other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, that’s the same as yesterday. That’s a total of 17 patients, down from 19 yesterday. HaysMed has zero patients today, down from one yesterday. The last COVID-19 death at the health system was June 30.

On today’s Morning Media Update, Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer, and Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, talked about the future of Morning Media Update as it pivots to more broad-based health stories with a continued eye on how COVID-19 continues to impact us. Dr. Stites welcomed Jessica Lovell, from the media relations department at The University of Kansas Health System, who will serve as the host of the program on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Lovell is former news anchor for KTKA in Topeka, KTNV and KTLA in Las Vegas, and returned to Kansas City and joined the health system in November 2018. She studied journalism at Johnson County Community College.

Dr. Stites will have his own update on Wednesdays called “Open Mics with Dr. Stites.” Dr. Stites plans to dive deeper on key topics such as cancer, proton therapy, AIDS, gun violence and at risk populations as public health threats. He will still follow the COVID-19 story and answer viewer questions.

The questions for today’s program include:

Q1: (17:07) What do you remember about the first show/beginning of the pandemic?

Since the disease was just appearing, nobody knew very much about COVID-19, but the doctors were learning and trying to share what they found out with others during these shows.

Q2: (19:50) Did you have any reservations about using this platform to communicate?

Staying silent was not an option, as “it is not who we are” said Dr. Stites. If you are going to lead the nation, you have to lead and you can’t stay silent. Through this platform, we wanted to involve the community and the leadership.  

Q3: (20:55) Was there a moment you had a “sinking feeling” about this disease?

While the doctors were prepared for this, knowing that they get into this profession to battle infectious diseases, it was when Anthony Fauci announced that this was a respirable disease like a common cold, that they knew this was going to be really serious.

Q: (24:02) Where does COVID-19 rank in terms of a challenge during your health career?

While the AIDS pandemic was serious, not many people remember it. Dr. Hawkinson also reiterated that our progress against COVID so far is because we are standing on the shoulders of the giants before us whose science helps us deal with infectious diseases today. We have to be thankful to those researchers

Q. (27:05) What are long-term health effects of COVID-19?

While fatigue, brain fog and other symptoms like loss of smell and breath will resolve, scarring in the lungs doesn’t resolve. The doctors are afraid if people didn’t get vaccinated, they aren’t going to be able to breathe.

Q. (26:30) What about this third wave? How long will it last and will it impact back-to-school?

Dr. Hawkinson hopes that moving further into summer and fall, vaccinations will increase and perhaps vaccinations for children 12 and under will be allowed.

Q. (31:08) Do long haulers have immunity longer because their symptoms persist?

There is no evidence this is the case. The recommendation is to get the vaccine and not rely on immunity.

Q. (31:36) Does the Delta variant pose a greater risk to unvaccinated residents and employees at senior centers?

While most seniors in senior living centers are vaccinated, the rate of employees vaccinated is lower and that can lead to spread of the virus.

Q. (33:33) Many moms are vaccinated, but young kids are not. Should we be concerned about this?

If everyone who is eligible in household is vaccinated, there is significantly less risk of spreading it to others in household.

Q. (35:34) Many unvaccinated kids are going to be going back to school and will be mixed in with kids who may not be masking. What is your message about this?

Mask if you can. If we see another big wave, we may go back to more masking.

Q. (38:07) Explain the difference between the Delta and Delta Plus variants.

While unfortunately, not a lot is known about it, we do know that vaccination does protect you against these variants.

Q. (40:20) Will these show still talk about COVID?

Yes, as long as the pandemic is here, we will provide updates and answer questions.

Q. (40:44) Can you share name of vaccine you discussed yesterday?

Novavax is a small startup company and has had outstanding efficacy.

Q. (42:17) Why do we not hear more about effective outpatient treatments for COVID-19?

The vaccine is leaps and bounds beyond any treatments you can receive. Nothing right now beats the vaccination.

Q. (45:35) If I’ve been vaccinated and I get sick, can I still get treated with monoclonal antibodies?

There are some conditions where you could, but it’s generally not used.

Q. (46:30 ) Can schools 12 and up mandate vaccines?

As physicians, we fully endorse vaccinations, but those decisions are left to public health officials.

Q. (48:01) Why won’t KU require vaccinations?

We mask and patients are masked, so you are going to be safe. Once FDA fully authorizes, hospital will review requiring vaccinations, just as we do for the flu.

Q. (49:46) Infection numbers are increasing in St. Joseph. I am vaccinated, but am stressed about going out. What can I do?

Waves are showing up in areas with low vaccinations. Vaccinations, mask wearing and social distancing can help keep you safe.

Q. (51:46) If there is a spike of COVID again, will show go back to a COVID focus?

Absolutely, we will still cover COVID daily. We will increase coverage of COVID-19 as needed to keep the community informed..

Also, take a look a “Sunnye Says”, a series geared for young child that was just recognized as a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences finalist for a Shared Care Award in the Children’s Health Category (1:00:50).

            Tuesday, July 6 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. Jessica Lovell will host with guests Dr. Greg Nawalanic and Dr. Courtney Rhodes, psychologists from The University of Kansas Health Center to talk about dealing with weight loss during the pandemic as many people may have put on the “COVID-19” (pounds) over the past several months.


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