The number of active COVID patients at The University of Kansas Health System has decreased. Today, 33 patients with the active virus are being treated, down from 38 the past two days. Only four of those 33 are vaccinated. 17 patients are in the ICU, the same as yesterday and only two of those patients are vaccinated. Nine are on ventilators, down from 10 yesterday. 39 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, the same as yesterday. That’s a total of 72 patients, down from 78 yesterday. HaysMed has 15 total patients, the same as the past two days.
Today on the Morning Medical Update, the program welcomed former Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt to talk about COVID and football as part of Follow-up Friday. Colquitt has been a frequent visitor to the Health System visiting kids who are patients to brighten their days.
Colquitt, a father of five kids, talked about how his family has adjusted to COVID, being smart about how to keep a large family safe by following medical guidance and adapting to getting groceries delivered. He also talked about how professional athletes have adjusted to COVID restrictions to stay healthy and keep bringing football to fans.
“Players are good with rolling with the punches,” Colquitt said as he re-counted his experiences last year with the Chiefs. “We’re an entertainment society and we’re going to do this the safest way we can. I remember we were in Pittsburgh at the time and we even took our team picture in masks because you’re so close.”
He said last year during the Super Bowl run, the team did a great job of spacing players out during visits to the trainer, during meals and everything else to stay safer.
Seeing the stadiums full this year is a welcome sign, he said. Last year, fans were not allowed or severely limited in many stadiums.
“Last year for our first game in New York, you could hear the camera guy when we walked onto the field,” Colquitt said about empty stadiums. “We could hear the traffic outside.”
He knows that the league and local officials are doing everything they can to keep fans and players safe.
“It was fun seeing people doing the right things,” he said. Instead of playing through illness, players were flagging it so they could avoid spreading anything. NFL teams handled COVID differently with meeting check-ins and other variations of the protocols, but ultimately everyone did it right with players, athletic trainers, coaches, PR staffs and others, according to Colquitt.
Community questions included one about long-haul COVID and how long symptoms last. Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, said about 25-40 or 50 percent of patients are getting long-haul syndrome and that begins after three months from the time you’ve had COVID. If you have lung disease as a result of COVID, that is permanent. But some of the other symptoms may go away.
“Hopefully the number of long-haul patients will decrease because people are getting better and symptoms are getting resolved, whether that’s naturally or some of the treatments,” said Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System. “We have seen early studies showing that those who are vaccinated and get COVID have a 50 percent reduction in getting long COVID.”
A question was asked about timing for getting the vaccine after testing positive. While there is no minimum time between getting infected and getting vaccine it is important for those infected to quarantine for 10 days. Those who have gotten the illness and then get vaccine have seemed to show a boosted immunity.
Masking in schools continues to be a popular question and the doctors reiterated that masking is absolutely effective.
“The best way to keep your kids safe in school is to wear a mask,” said Dr. Stites. “The evidence is incontrovertible about that.”
Colquitt also chimed in as his wife is a teacher. He said mask use in school helped keep cases limited in the school last year.
“The references are out there,” said Dr. Hawkinson. “Go to the CDC, look at their guidance for schools…go to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This information is out there. There was a good Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that showed that masking and ventilation in those school situations did reduce incidents by 30 to 40 percent.”
A community question was about heart inflammation due to COVID. Dr. Stites said this can happen with a lot of different viruses. But with COVID, unvaccinated people are at higher risk of heart inflammation. But in most cases, this will likely resolve itself.
A final question was around monoclonal antibodies and why they aren’t just given to everyone who is sick. According to the doctors, it comes down to the patient profiles. In certain populations, monoclonal antibodies work really well. In other populations, they do not work well.
Monday, September 20th at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. The program will tackle the effectiveness of mask usage in Kansas with special guests Dr. Donna Ginther, Dean’s Professor of Economics and Director, Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas and Dr. Carlos Zambrana, Associate Researcher at the University of Kansas.
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