Coronavirus Media Briefing Wednesday 3-24-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


           A big spike in the number of active COVID-19 patients at The University of Kansas Health System today. 16 people with the active virus are being treated, up from 9 yesterday. Of those patients, three are in the ICU, down from five yesterday. Two of those patients are on ventilators, the same as yesterday. 18 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, a big jump from 7 yesterday. That’s a total of 34 patients, more than double the 16 yesterday. HaysMed is doing well with only one active patient. Doctors say the numbers are not where we would like them to be, and unfortunately, the trend is up across the country.

            On today’s Morning Media Update we had Chief Medical Officers back from Advent Health, Liberty Health and Truman Medical Centers University Health.  Dr. Larry Botts, Dr. Raghu Adiga, and Dr. Mark Steele shared their thoughts on the upcoming religious holidays, spring break and sports, plus how their vaccinations are going and patient numbers.                                                            

            Dr. Steele from Truman reports 13 active patients after a recent low of eight. They have given more than 67,000 vaccinations, including more than 4,000 teachers. They also participated in the recent mass vaccination clinic at Arrowhead Stadium. He also described the community clinic outreach to area churches, community centers and senior facilities.

            Dr. Adiga says Liberty Hospital has also seen an uptick in COVID-19 patients with seven today after a recent low of three. Their employee vaccinations have been a success, as none have missed work or tested positive in the last two weeks. He described a mass vaccination clinic called Operation Safe in which they partnered with Cerner and The Clay County Public Health Center to give out more than 50,000 doses. They hope to partner with some area employers once the vaccine supply is plentiful. He says the key is vaccinations, especially with Spring Break and Easter coming, and we must keep up distancing and masking.

            Dr. Botts says so far Advent/Shawnee Mission has not seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases but are bracing for one. They have administered 30,000 doses of the vaccine, including a big weekly clinic at the Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park which is scheduled through May. He cautions those area churches which are reportedly loosening safety precautions that now is not the time to let up. He explained how even singing without a mask can spread the virus and says the rules of infection control go with you everywhere, even in church.

            Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, said it appears so far the health system is not seeing hospitalized patients who have been vaccinated. He addressed the current residency requirements of some vaccination sites and said as more vaccines become available in the coming weeks, those requirements will be lessened. He also said the idea of an area high school holding Prom is dangerous because the CDC guidelines still call for avoiding medium to large groups.

Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, addressed the question of Kansas lawmakers considering a measure forcing counties to revoke mask mandates. Without getting political, he said the virus is still out there and there is overwhelming proof that masks work. He added, “To all the massive doubters out there, I’m sorry. You’re just wrong.” He says right now there is a burning desire to be normal, but he says, “Want has exceeded reality,” He reminds us that the virus level in our communities is much higher today than this time last year and only 8-13 percent of the people have been vaccinated. He urges us to keep following the pillars of infection prevention while we wait for vaccinations to ramp up.

            Thursday, March 25 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. We are going to update our long-haulers clinic.  Dr. Keith Sale, VP of ambulatory will join us and he's bringing along family medicine physician Dr. Jennifer Woodward who is seeing success with COVID-19 patients managing their illness by monitoring their oxygen levels at home. She'll explain that work and what it means for patients. 

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