Morning Medical Update Tuesday 1-4-22

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


            The University of Kansas Health System reports another jump in the number of COVID patients today. 80 with the active virus are being treated, up from 73 yesterday. Only six of those patients are vaccinated. 19 COVID patients are in the ICU, down from 20 yesterday, with only one of them vaccinated. 15 are on ventilators, up from 14 yesterday, with none of those patients vaccinated. 40 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, up from 35 yesterday. That’s a total of 120 patients, a huge increase from 108 yesterday.

            On today’s Morning Medical Update, guests were Dr. Kenny Southwick, Executive Director, Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City and Dr. Michelle Hubbard, Superintendent, Shawnee Mission School District. They joined Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer and Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control. The focus was on schools reopening after winter break, and the lingering controversy over mask mandates.


Here are the key points from each of today’s speakers:

Dr. Hubbard

  • Contentious Shawnee Mission school board meeting kept mask mandate in effect for grades K-6.
  • Had to clear the room because of crowd interruption and continue virtually
  • Calls it a “sad time for education” and says the masking issue has become “very polarized.”
  • District leaders are “fatigued and frustrated” and feel schools and hospitals are the only ones fighting COVID
  • Have struggled with school staffing all year because of the pandemic and don’t see it getting better
  • Endorses “testing to stay” protocols for those who may have been exposed to COVID, but says testing for all is not realistic
  • Priority must be keeping kids in school and focusing on academic achievement
  • “Don’t let the bullies win the battle.”

Dr. Southwick

  • Feels governments, especially in Missouri, are wrong to weaken mask mandates and threaten lawsuits against those who support them
  • Health decisions have become political vs. science vs. social media
  • Too many mixed messages from media and leaders
  • School districts can’t rely on government mask mandates and must use current data to make the best decisions for their students and teachers
  • Current surge in hospitalized patients has him worried that “If I wake up tomorrow with appendicitis, I may not be able to be treated.”
  • Must stay vigilant in next few weeks and be prepared to take further action if necessary

Dr. Stites

  • Rise in new COVID cases steeper now that at any time during the pandemic
  • It’s a “twindemic” of delta and omicron outbreaks
  • Chief medical officers from across the state will be on tomorrow’s program to discuss why this is the most “dangerous moment” of the pandemic
  • Believes “If we don’t take the rules of infection prevention seriously, this curve will bend us. We’re at a critical juncture.”
  • Says, “If you refuse to take precautions, it will find its way to you now more than at any time of the pandemic.”

Dr. Hawkinson

  • More than 90 percent of new hospital admissions are unvaccinated
  • This is not just a cold, and it’s far worse than the flu
  • There has been a reduction in civility in the last 18 months
  • Vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic


            Wednesday, January 5 at 8:00 a.m. we will present a special live news and community briefing with chief medical officers from the metro and across the state. They will paint the picture of why this is the most dangerous time since the pandemic began, especially for children, as COVID hospital admissions and clinic visits for them are rapidly rising. We’ll focus on why communities need to rally right now to do something about it.  

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 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

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.

Feel free to send questions in advance to