Coronavirus Media Briefing Wednesday 11-4-20

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


          A record number of COVID-19 patients are being treated at The University of Kansas Health System today. 44 patients are hospitalized, up from 40 yesterday, which was the previous record. 15 patients are in the ICU, down from 16 yesterday. Seven patients are on ventilators, down from 8 yesterday. 29 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase. That’s down from 33 yesterday. In addition, HaysMed has 18 total COVID-19 inpatients today, up from 17 yesterday, with 1 of those patients in the recovery phase. Doctors noted hospitals all over the city are reporting record numbers. They added it will be another couple of weeks before we see if there is any effect from Halloween gatherings.

            On today’s Morning Media Update, our VP of Support Operations Jeff Novorr shared best practices here at the health system that his teams use every day to feed patients, visitors and employees safely. These are tips you can use with your family this Thanksgiving holiday if you plan to get together.

            Jeff Novorr oversees the health system’s kitchen, and says they plan on serving 1600 Thanksgiving meals to patients and visitors. He outlined all of the steps that have been taken to ensure the food is prepared and delivered safely. He also explained everything that’s been done to make sure the health system’s cafeterias are safe. Many of those safety measures, he says, will work for those having guests in the home for Thanksgiving. He advises staying within your “bubble,” avoiding gatherings of ten or more, seat guests separately by household, eat outside (weather permitting,) wear masks except for eating and space tables and chairs as far apart as possible. When cooking the meal, always wash hands, utensils, the sink and anything that comes in contact with raw turkey and its juices with soap and water. As for the turkey, cook to 165 and use a meat thermometer, don’t rely on the pop-up thermometer built into the bird. He also strongly advises avoiding a buffet table, instead having the host plate and serve each meal. He says any food left out for more than two hours should be discarded, and to use refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days, heating to 165 degrees using a meat thermometer.

            Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of infection prevention and control at The University of Kansas Health System, says it should be safe to go around someone with COVID-19 ten days after the onset of symptoms. He also mentioned that the death rate from the virus is 10-20 times that of influenza and the hospital has never had this many patients in the ICU and on ventilators with the flu. He discussed whether the upcoming vaccine will be like the flu vaccine and whether it will it keep you from getting the virus or just lighten the symptoms. He answered the question about whether it’s safe for someone who’s tested positive to be seated six feet from someone who has not, both wearing masks, for eight hours. He says it’s “low risk, but not no risk.” He also said some experiments have shown the virus can live for a couple of hours on surfaces, but frequent hand washing can keep it from spreading.

             Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, addressed the question of whether hospitals will have to cut back on elective procedures to handle the newest influx of COVID-19 patients. He also explained that animal testing is still a part of developing the vaccine and why it’s important. He discussed the safety of ice hockey and skating lessons and whether the cold and ice keep the virus in the air longer. And he talked about staff members who have contracted the virus, not in the hospital, but in the community, and how it affects staffing levels. He says getting through the COVID-19 crisis depends on each one of us following the pillars of infection prevention no matter where we are.


            Thursday, November 5 at 8:00 a.m. is the next 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.

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