Coronavirus Media Briefing Monday 4-5-21

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 is falling today. Seven people with the active virus are being treated, down from ten Friday. Of those patients, three are in the ICU, down from five Friday. Two of those patients are on ventilators, up from one Friday. 13 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 16 Friday. That’s a total of 20 patients, down from 26 Friday. HaysMed reports one active COVID-19 patient today, compared to one active and one in the recovery phase on Friday.

            On today’s Morning Media Update, Dr. Gregory Poland (rhymes with Holland), director of Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group and his daughter Caroline Poland teamed up on COVID-19 research that identifies why and how we think the way we do when it comes to vaccine, masks and testing. They explained how they did their research and why it’s important at this stage in the pandemic.                                                            

            Caroline Poland, a licensed mental health counselor, outlined two different styles people use in making decisions. One is the analytical, fact-based style in which we take in information and process the data in a logical way that makes sense to us. The other, which has become more common during the pandemic, is fear-based, which is commonly expressed as, “I heard vaccines are harmful, so I’m not going to get them.” She says we don’t always use the same style in all of our decision making and may be influenced by what others are saying. She adds when listening to the vaccine hesitant, we’re much better off when we can listen to understand rather than listen to reply. When we can show empathy and understanding, the other person doesn’t feel the need to be defensive and it leads to much better conversations when we can be curious about what they’re saying and understand their fears. She also discussed those who believe conspiracy theories about vaccines and how to find out if they’re interested in hearing another perspective while avoiding the “hard sell.” She says we have to be on guard against going into shutdown mode against reality because we’re tired of the pandemic and forget the real threat of the virus.

            Dr. Poland said the advice to listen is true, especially for doctors. He learned the importance of simply sitting down and listening to a patient, rather than having his head buried in the computer while entering and sorting through data. For vaccine hesitant or vaccine rejecting patients, he says there is no one thing you can do that will help them see or think more clearly about the decision they have to make. Rather it’s about building a trusting relationship that takes time. He also says we are no longer in an environment where anyone can legitimately say the vaccine was rushed and they want to see if it’s safe. With more than 100 million doses given in the United States, he points out we have not seen safety problems. He says the risk of anaphylaxis is two to four per million, the same as other routine vaccines. As far as how the vaccines work in the real world, he calls them “stellar.” In his four decades as a vaccinologist, he calls these, if not the best then one of the best vaccines we’ve ever seen, especially for a first-generation vaccine. He says, “I marvel that we can be in the midst of a pandemic that has taken half a million American lives, one out every about 590 Americans is now dead of a disease we know how to prevent with a safe and effective vaccine, so you know, I personally feel a passion and urgency to educate as much as possible, talk to people about their fears and help move them toward accepting vaccines.” He stressed there’s a tremendous need for mental health services during this pandemic. He worries that we are at a high plateau right now with the disease and many scientists are worried we’ll see a fourth wave, as other countries have seen. With 20-25 percent of the population rejecting the vaccines, he says it will be harder to reach the herd immunity rate of 80-85 percent he feels will be needed to stop the pandemic.

            Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, agreed it’s hard to discuss the facts when people are getting their information from untrue sources. His best advice is to forget social media and to seek out the most accurate publicly available sources such as the CDC and county and state health departments.

David Wild, MD, VP of Performance Improvement at The University of Kansas Health System, is in for Dr. Stites. He has advice for those who like to refuse the vaccine by saying “Only one percent of those who get the disease actually die.” He says in the big picture, one percent of 330 million Americans is still a huge number. Plus, of those who do get it, even if they don’t die, 42 percent have long-term debilitating side effects. He strongly encourages anyone who is hesitant or declining the vaccine to reach out to your health care provider or someone you trust to get the best information possible.

            Tuesday, April 6 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. A huge spectacle is headed this way.  It's 155 tons of equipment being hauled on the biggest flatbed you've likely ever seen with police and other motorcades escorting the way.  The entourage is bringing the long-awaited proton therapy gantry and cyclotron that will bring the center one step closer to fruition. We've invited Dr. Ronny Rotondo, medical director of the proton therapy center and VP of Clinical Services and Physician in Chief at The University of Kansas Cancer Center Dr. Terry Tsue to talk about this technology and the rise of cancer diagnosis linked to the pandemic.

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.

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