Coronavirus Media Briefing Wednesday 6-30-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


           No change in the numbers of COVID-19 patients at The University of Kansas Health System today. 13 patients with the active virus are being treated, the same as yesterday. Five of those patients are in the ICU, same as yesterday, with four of those patients on ventilators, also the same as yesterday. One patient remains on an ECMO device, which is like dialysis for the lungs and helps keep the sickest of the sick alive. Eight other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, the same as yesterday. That’s a total of 21 patients, the same as yesterday. HaysMed has two patients today, up from one yesterday.

On today’s Morning Media Update, we were joined by area hospital Chief Medical Officers who have checked in throughout this pandemic.  Dr. Larry Botts from Advent Health, Dr. Raghu Adiga from Liberty Health and Dr. Mark Steele with Truman Medical Centers/University Health have all been experiencing an uptick in numbers.  They discussed how they're sitting going into the holiday weekend. Amanda Cackler, director of Quality and Safety at The University of Kansas Health System, filled in for Dr. Hawkinson, and joined Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at the health system. in the studio. 

            All three of the chief medical officers report an uptick in patients in the last two to three weeks, after seeing single digit numbers to that point. The patients are all younger than in the past and almost every one of them is unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated suffer from other health problems besides COVID-19. Doctors are worried it’s the Delta variant that’s causing the uptick, which is more transmissible and more likely to land someone in the hospital. They attribute the very low vaccination rates in parts of rural Missouri, as low as 15 to 20 percent in some communities, for the latest surge of COVID-19 patients, especially in Springfield. All of them feel it will be a very steep hill to climb to reinstate mask mandates, and think the focus needs to be on getting people vaccinated. They agree with Dr. Fauci who says there is going to be a division between the haves and the have nots when it comes to being vaccinated and said the biggest problem is convincing the unvaccinated to follow CDC guidelines and keep wearing a mask. They note that one dose of the mRNA vaccine is only about 30 percent effective against the Delta variant and it takes both doses to reach 90 percent effectiveness. They are all worried about a potential spike in patients from the Fourth of July holiday weekend and say we could start seeing new cases of the virus within seven to ten days. It could take six to eight weeks before we see the full impact. They fear what that could do to hospital capacity as each facility is nearly full of other patients and no room for a big influx of COVID-19 patients. The good news is, weather permitting, most holiday events are outdoors, which is safer than indoors. All on the panel felt that while voluntary staff vaccination rates are fairly high, it will become mandatory once the vaccines get full FDA approval, which could come in the next few months. None of the doctors are concerned about school starting, as long as all of the adults and the students who are old enough have been vaccinated. All of the doctors agree one of the silver linings from the pandemic was instituting the Chief Medical Officer’s conference call in which all area hospitals put competition aside, compared notes and learned from each other. They say that will continue after the pandemic.

Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, says the Delta variant is a lesson for us, and we’re learning the hard way, especially in the Springfield and Branson area, that if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not safe. He says with more than two billion doses given across the world, there’s no question it’s one of the safest things you can do. He says, “It’s far safer than driving your car, it’s far safer than chemotherapy, it’s far cheaper than any other drug you’re going to take. The proof is in the pudding, folks, and the pudding clearly shows us after billions of doses of vaccination that it is clearly safe.”

            Thursday, July 1 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. What do the Kauffman Foundation, AARP, the CDC, Mercedes Benz, and the Obama White House have in common? Our guest tomorrow!  These are but a few big names who have benefited from Dr. Stephanie Evergreen's ability to take complicated data and make it simple to understand. This has never been more important than during this pandemic. She's a self-proclaimed data-nerd and a lot of fun.

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