Morning Medical Update Tuesday 3-15-22

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


The University of Kansas Health System is treating 64 total COVID patients today, down from 77 yesterday. Other significant numbers:

  • 12 with the active virus, 18 yesterday
  • 0 in ICU, same as yesterday
  • 0 on ventilators, same as yesterday

As COVID numbers are decreasing in many areas and social activities are ramping up with warmer weather, March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day, how can people celebrate safely? And how does drinking alcohol impact our brain function?

Key points from today’s guests:

Dr. Matt Shoemaker, Infectious Disease Physician with The University of Kansas Health System

  • The biggest thing is making sure you have your COVID vaccinations with the booster.
  • On top of that, making sure you have your flu vaccine can also protect you from illness in larger crowds.
  • Pay attention to local guidelines on masking and social distancing based on how the virus has been trending locally.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control

  • Super spreader events are hard to define, but as long as we have people to get vaccines, it will cut down on events with large numbers of people that can increase likelihood of spread.
  • As weather warms up, bigger events can be held outside, which has proven to be safer.
  • Individuals will need to continue to evaluate their own risks.

Bill Teel, Executive Director, Kansas City Restaurant Association

  • It’s exciting for everyone to get out and celebrate safely – basketball games, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo – not just for the restaurants, but for people who want to get out and have fun.
  • Most restaurants have kept precautions in place with masks on greeters and servers, disposable menus, extra sanitation, and other activities even though it’s no longer required.
  • It’s important for people to be comfortable when they go to their local establishments and the restaurants are doing the best they can to do make everyone feel welcome.

Dr. Richard Nubinsky, Neurologist, The University of Kansas Health System

  • Alcohol is well known to cause atrophy of the brain. Long-term use can damage the brain. Some damage can be permanent.
  • Drinking alcohol creates a chemical reaction that causes stress on the brain.
  • More recent studies have shown that some of the health benefits of alcohol are overstated.
  • In addition to limiting alcohol, physical and mental activity can help reversing effects of aging the brain.
  • Binge drinking is never good. Drinking in moderation is OK.
  • When it comes to the need to see a neurologist, for adults, it could be a wider range of symptoms – loss of thinking abilities, signs of weakness. For a child, sudden failing in school could be a sign that a neurologist can help.

Media and Community Questions

  • During COVID surges, takeout alcohol drinks were popular. Is that still happening? Most restaurants that started offering that are continuing to do that.
  • What is the reaction around sewage data showing an increase in COVID and a possible spring wave? This is something we are monitoring. Having your vaccination can help prevent any future waves.
  • Are surges ever going away? It doesn’t matter what season it is; we’ve seen COVID surges in every season.
  • What is the future of COVID? This has been a once in a lifetime event for people in our specialty. We don’t have a crystal ball, but we hope that as vaccinations increase, we see less of this. It may still turn into a seasonal virus.
  • Will a fourth booster dose be necessary? We will need to understand additional data from the vaccine manufacturers.
  • What is happening with the rising cases in China? From what we are seeing, this is probably Omicron and not a new strain. It could be in areas where vaccination rates are not as high.

Wednesday, March 16 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update – Open Mics with Dr. Stites. His guest will be Marvia Jones, Health Director KCMO.