The number of COVID patients at The University of Kansas Health System is higher today. 62 patients with the active virus are being treated, up from 60 yesterday. Only ten are vaccinated, and all ten have significant health problems such as end stage liver disease, solid organ transplant, chemotherapy, lung disease and diabetes. 19 of those patients are in the ICU, up from 22 yesterday. 14 are on ventilators, the same as yesterday. 35 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 47 yesterday. That’s a total of 97 patients, down from 107 yesterday. HaysMed has 13 patients today, up from 12 yesterday.
Today, another episode of Open Mics With Dr. Stites. Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, was joined by Dr. Brad Nelson, a pediatrician at the health system, who is treating children for prolonged COVID symptoms.
Dr. Nelson is seeing an increasing number of kids in the long haul COVID clinic, many with symptoms like adults, including brain fog, headaches, shortness of breath and dizziness. He’s also seeing a lot of kids with mood symptoms of depression and anxiety, general fatigue and not feeling themselves. There are a number of treatments such as physical therapy or for those with taste and smell problems, aroma therapy. They also have access to a psychologist who can help them deal with the effects of not being able to be kids. He believes schools are safe as long as everyone is wearing a mask and says being in the classroom is much better than school at home on video. He disagrees with school districts which have made masks optional. He expects the vaccine for younger kids to be approved in the next few months and says the data shows it will be safe. As for worries about myocarditis from the vaccine, he says it’s very rare and when it does happen it’s not severe and clears up in a couple of days. He warns that the risk of getting myocarditis from COVID is much greater. He and Dr. Stites discussed the story of the California teacher who removed her mask to read a story to her class, and in that short time, spread COVID to the masked kids in the front row. He said it was possible because Delta is much more transmissible, and even though the kids were wearing masks, those are designed to keep you from spreading the virus to others. His biggest message is believe the science when it says the risk of not being vaccinated is much greater than any possible effects from the vaccine.
Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, noted that new OSHA guidelines call for healthcare workers to wear N-95 masks on the job, but those are not needed for the general public, especially since they need to be specially fitted. Many people still think if they had COVID they’ve got plenty of natural immunity and don’t need the vaccination. Dr. Hawkinson disagrees saying the best medical information shows even one dose of the mRNA vaccine greatly increases the amount of protection and for a much longer time than natural immunity alone. He also says your risk of long haul symptoms is greatly reduced with a vaccination. He’s also been keeping an eye on the southern hemisphere, which is usually the best indicator of what our flu season will be like. He says it’s been a very light flu season in Australia, but worries ours might be worse than last year’s, when it was non-existent, because our infection control measures have loosened. He implores everyone to get vaccinated, which is going to help us all get through this current surge.
Dr. Stites reminds us the Delta variant is highly contagious, but it can’t survive someone wearing a mask. He says eating outside at a restaurant is safe as long as everyone wears a mask when not eating. He thinks booster shots for everyone will be coming, though the timing is uncertain. A viewer wanted to know if there is a risk of stroke from the vaccines, and he says the risk is not much higher than in the general population, and much higher from COVID itself. While he says it’s too soon to say if there’s been an uptick in vaccinations since the Pfizer approval, he notes there has been an uptick in organizations requiring vaccination as a condition of employment.
Thursday, September 2 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. Amanda Cackler, director of infection prevention and control will discuss CDC recommendations on what we need to do to stay safe as we head into the Labor Day weekend.
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.
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