Coronavirus Media Briefing Thursday 11-5-20

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


          Another record number of COVID-19 patients at The University of Kansas Health System today. 51 patients are hospitalized, up from yesterday’s record of 44. 18 patients are in the ICU, up from 15 yesterday. Ten patients are on ventilators, up from 7 yesterday. 28 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase. That’s down from 29 yesterday. In addition, HaysMed has 21 total COVID-19 inpatients today, up from 18 yesterday, with 2 of those patients in the recovery phase. Doctors noted hospitals all over the city are reporting record numbers. They say this is not what they were hoping for but were expecting.

            On today’s Morning Media Update, a deadline is fast approaching for nursing homes to enroll in a virtual, nationwide interactive training to keep seniors safe.  KUMED has been awarded a grant and is leading the nation with their best practices.  Dr. Shawna Wright, licensed psychologist is the principal investigator for KU Medical Center. She will be joined by Dr. Jessica Kalendar-Rich, national member of the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality.

             Dr. Wright discussed Project ECHO (Extension For Community Healthcare Outcomes). It’s a free service that links community COVID-19 experts, like those at The University of Kansas Health System and KU Medical Center, with staff at long term care facilities right at their work site by remote interactive video. She explained that about a fourth of all COVID-19 patients have been in nursing facilities, which has put a strain on already overworked staff. This service helps by teaching them the latest best practices and best ways to implement rules sent out by different governing bodies. She also mentioned they have technical support staff that can help a facility with broadband connection problems. She even says the ECHO model could be used to help schools. She says the elderly are the most vulnerable population and the people who care for them need the most support now. She said the deadline for nursing facilities to sign up for the service is tomorrow, and they can call 913-588-2226 to register.

            Dr. Kalendar-Rich, who is one of the experts advising nursing facilities, says the facilities don’t always know how to handle all of the available information and she helps take the regulations and put them into practice to improve conditions for residents. She says the basics of infection prevention can keep residents safe but says many times the problem is staff who unknowingly bring the virus into the facility from the community. She notes staffing for long term care facilities has been a challenge, and they are looking at rules changes to allow Certified Nursing Assistants to be trained to help and noted in some cases agency staffing has been needed. As for the holidays, she says as the numbers rise, it will be tougher, if not impossible, to visit loved ones in nursing facilities. She says bringing them home for Thanksgiving dinner may be possible, but they’d need to be quarantined for 14 days in their facility afterward. She also said it’s important for all long-term care facilities to register by tomorrow to be on the distribution list when vaccines are available.

            David Wild, MD, Vice President of Performance Improvement sitting in for Dr. Steve Stites, agreed the ECHO program is a great way to share experts across the state to help keep our older population safe. He says is appears Pfizer will be one of the first vaccine makers to ask for emergency use authorization in the next few weeks. He explained there are about four vaccines each getting close, each with different dosing, transportation and storage requirements. He thinks it could still be several months before we start seeing mass vaccinations. He also emphasized that even with the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, it’s still safe to come for a doctor visit as the risk of transmission in a healthcare facility is extremely low.

            Wissam El Atrouni, one of our infectious disease physicians filling in for Dr. Hawkinson, agreed about the safety of the hospital and doctors’ offices. He also telehealth calls are a great option as well. He reminds us that our elderly are most at risk during the pandemic and it’s vital to keep them from catching the virus while in a long-term care facility. He also said while scientists are looking into the possible virus mutating in some animals, we should not jump to the conclusion that animals are transmitting COVID-19 to humans. He stressed, like Dr. Stites and Dr. Hawkinson always do, the best way to keep the virus from spreading is to observe the pillars of infection control.

            Friday, November 6 at 8:00 a.m. is the next morning media update. “Safe at City Market” is a children’s book designed to teach COVID-19 pillars of infection control to kids. Sue Patterson, Director of Marketing & Communications at City Market and Author Jill Ballu will join us to share how the book came about, how it is being received and how well they think the businesses/patrons are doing with the major themes in the book. We will also answer questions from the community.

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 1-253-215-8782, 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