The number of active COVID-19 patients continues dropping at The University of Kansas Health System. 38 people with the active virus are hospitalized today, the first it’s been below 40 in a long time. That’s down from 43 yesterday. Nine patients are in the ICU, down from 10 yesterday. Five of those ICU patients are on ventilators today, same as yesterday. 63 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, up from 60 yesterday. That’s a total of 101 patients, down from 103 yesterday. In addition, HaysMed has a total of 16 COVID-19 inpatients, up from 12 yesterday, with seven of those active patients and nine in the recovery phase.
On today’s Morning Media Update, Dr. Stites rolled up his sleeve again to get his second dose of the Moderna vaccine, and KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman returned to answer questions about the vaccination rollout in Kansas.
Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, began the program by receiving his second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Nursing Director Thu Janes asked Dr. Stites the screening questions asked of all patients about to receive the vaccine, including reaction to the last dose. Dr. Stites said he had some shoulder discomfort but no fevers, chills or fatigue. After administering the shot, Janes observed Dr. Stites for 15 minutes to make sure there were no severe reactions, which is the usual procedure for everyone who gets the vaccine. He was advised to keep his vaccination card, which everyone receives, in a safe place, possibly for travel.
Dr. Norman reported the COVID-19 numbers across the state are much improved, with about 650 new cases a day compared to two or three thousand cases a day just a month or two ago. Hospitalizations and deaths are dropping as well. He suspects the virus variants will find their way to Kansas and says his department has increased surveillance for those from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. He says there’s no question it’s safer now, but it’s too soon to say when we’ll be able to get back to normal and it will be deep into the summer before the state completes all phases of the vaccination plan. He pointed to the KDHE web site for the latest information on where people can find the vaccine when it’s available. He feels the current allocation of 45,000 doses a week to Kansas is not enough but says that will increase when the next manufacturers get FDA approval for their vaccines. He also said there have been virtually no cases of the flu in Kansas so far this year and gives credit to flu shots and increased infection prevention measures.
Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, agreed there have been very few flu cases at the health system in what is usually the peak of the flu season. He also believes the UK variant of the COVID-19 virus will become one of the more dominant strains in the country, but the vaccine makers have the ability to change the formula to adapt in about six weeks. He also reassured everyone that that vaccine does not contain a live virus. He believes we will one day be able to stop wearing masks but says that day is still a long way away.
Dr. Stites mentioned the Russian Sputnik five vaccine, which has proven 91.9% effective in trials. He also stressed how masks keep the virus from spreading by pointing to the health system’s COVID-19 unit. There have been no cases of anyone getting the virus in that unit because of the masks. He said once the vaccine supply is increased, the health system is ready to vaccinate 10-15 thousand patients a week and pledges it will be done as fairly as possible. He agrees is feels a little safer since the vaccines have started but says now is not the time to let our guard down and we must be diligent in following the rules of infection prevention for the foreseeable future.
Wednesday, February 3 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. Johnson County Director of Health and Environment, Dr. Sanmi (san-me) Areola and Shawnee County Health Department Infectious Disease Division Manager Derik Flerlage (Flur-log") join to update vaccinations in their counties on the Kansas side.
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