Coronavirus Media Briefing Thursday 4-8-21

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 still holding steady today. Eight people with the active virus are being treated, the same as yesterday. Of those patients, two are in the ICU, down from three yesterday. Both of those patients are on ventilators, up from one yesterday. 18 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, up from 14 yesterday. That’s a total of 26 patients, up from 22 yesterday. HaysMed reports three active COVID-19 patients today with one in the recovery phase, the same as yesterday.

            Doctors noted that people who live in Kansas, no matter in what county, are now eligible to call for an appointment at the health system to get vaccinated. The health system, which has 8,000 appointments available, is doing clinics seven days a week. Anyone who lives outside of Kansas but works in Johnson County is also eligible. You do not need to be a patient, and anyone wanting a shot that meets the resident or work criteria is eligible. Established patients can register using MyChart. Others can call 913-588-1227 or go to to make an appointment.

            On today’s Morning Media Update, Dr. Anne Wishna, an ophthalmologist at The University of Kansas Health System, joined to answer questions about the impact of COVID-19 on our eyes.                                                            

            Dr. Wishna explained how it’s possible to get COVID-19 through the eyes and says it can cause blockage of blood vessels and inflammation of the optic nerve. Some of the more common problems with wearing masks are dry eyes and fogging glasses, and she had advice on how to cope with both. She stressed the importance of wearing eye protection that wraps around the side, saying regular eyeglasses and sunglasses don’t offer the same protection. She adds even swim goggles will work for children, especially if you’re traveling on an airplane. She has seen patients who have severe dry eyes after having COVID-19 and says lubricating drops several times a day can help. She also says it’s safe to wear contact lenses as long as you don’t touch your eyes, which is one of the main ways the virus is spread. She notes those with eyeglasses tend to touch their eyes more often as they are adjusting them a lot.       

            Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, reminds us that the vaccines are providing immunity, even against the variants. He says there’s more and more evidence that the immunity you gain from vaccination is much stronger than the immunity you get from infection. He discussed the AstraZeneca vaccine, still in clinical trials, and how some countries are now limiting it to older and more at-risk patients due to clotting fears. He noted Israel is doing well because a high percentage of its population has been vaccinated, while other countries in Europe that have not vaccinated as many people are having to go back on lockdown. He advises us all to go to trusted sources for answers to help understand the safety of the vaccines.

Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, explained what can happen if the vaccination effort stalls before we reach herd immunity. He stressed that we’re in a public health crisis and we all have to do our part to stop the pandemic. He says evidence is overwhelmingly clear that the best way to convince the vaccine hesitant is through the doctor-patient relationship and get the vaccine in a doctor’s office. He believes as we watch those who are vaccinated gain protection and those who are not get sick, more and more people will want the vaccine. He noted we’ll have enough vaccine in the next month or so to vaccinate everyone, which he says, “can be the amazing story of the end of the pandemic.” He adds, “Let’s end this thing together, and begin a new journey to where we get to go and when life feels a lot safer and a lot more normal.”

            Friday, April 8 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. Amanda Cackler, director of Quality and Safety at the health system, joins the panel to help answer media and community questions.

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