“We can say COVID doesn’t affect us, but that’s about as effective as shouting at a Category 5 hurricane. This thing is on us, we have to take action,” said Dr. Amber Schmidtke, one of today’s guests on the Morning Medical Update. And for good reason. The University of Kansas Health System reports another record number of COVID patients today.129 with the active virus are being treated, up from 115 yesterday. Only 22 of those patients are fully vaccinated. Three more patients died since yesterday, making 21 COVID deaths at the health system since the beginning of January. 29 COVID patients are in the ICU, up from 24 yesterday. 21 are on ventilators, up from 19 yesterday. 50 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 51 yesterday. That’s a total of 179 patients, a big jump from 166 yesterday.
Today’s guests included Amanda Cackler, director of Infection Prevention and Control at the health system, Dr. Amber Schmidtke, Chair, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of St. Mary, Dr. Tim Williamson, pulmonologist, critical care specialist and VP of quality and safety at the health system and Bill Teel, executive director of the Kansas City area Restaurant Association. They joined Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control to discuss COVID deaths at the health system, the big nationwide picture and how hospitals in the region are coping with the crisis. Also, how area restaurants are adjusting their annual Restaurant Week for customer safety, and the impact of the Chiefs game, with a lot of Steeler fans arriving, on the region.
Here are the key points from each of today’s speakers:
- Several area school districts closing because of staff COVID. The ripple effect in the community will be huge with parental work absences.
- 85% of health system COVID patients who died in January were unvaccinated
- 53% of those admitted for COVID have just COVID and no other co-morbidities
- Unvaccinated COVID inpatients are sickest and at highest risk
- Kansas and Missouri positivity rates are “sky high.”
- COVID case numbers tend to level off a week after wastewater testing results begin leveling off. Wastewater testing in Metro shows no leveling off.
- Case rates in all regions of the country rising very fast, dwarfing anything we’ve seen before. Cases probably not peaked.
- Use this risk assessment tool to help decide whether to attend a large gathering. Currently shows gatherings of 25 in KC Metro have a 90% chance of at least one person positive for COVID.
- Supreme Court ruling upholding healthcare worker vaccination mandates good news
- Rough couple of weeks in region as hospitalizations rapidly rising along with staff outages
- Surgeries delayed all over Metro and transfers hard to accommodate
- Very difficult to get into the ICU now. Must be very sick
- Restaurants hard hit by COVID in last two years. Most are small businesses and many did not survive
- Staffing continues to be main problem
- Restaurants have stepped up safety precautions with staff masking, constant sanitization, plexiglass barriers and limiting number of guests
- Annual Restaurant week will focus more on delivery and takeout
- Restauranteurs are resilient. 50 new establishments coming in first half of 2022.
- If going to Chiefs playoff game, best to be fully vaccinated with booster. Keep mask on at stadium as much as possible.
- Pittsburgh fans mingling in the community could have an impact
- Avoid big parties to watch the game
- If you have any symptoms stay home
Tuesday, January 18 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. We are off on Monday in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Day. COVID has hit Western Kansas especially hard. We’ll hear from an emergency department doctor from Abilene on the struggles in his community. Plus, one woman who lost her husband to COVID shares her story and the message she says everyone should hear.
NOTE: Journalists should rejoin the Morning Medical Update at 8am as doctors are growing too busy again for individual interview requests. Please bring questions or send to firstname.lastname@example.org until further notice. Thanks for all you do and helping to keep the community safe with your reporting.
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 https://kumc-ois.zoom.us/j/7828978628
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_SDI and is being made available to all with TVU service.
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