The numbers of COVID patients are steady at The University of Kansas Health System today. 34 patients with the active virus are being treated, up from 33 on Friday. 16 of those patients are in the ICU, up from 12 Friday. Nine patients are on ventilators, up from seven Friday. 22 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 23 Friday. That’s a total of 56 patients, the same as Friday. HaysMed has two patients, the same as Friday.
On today’s Morning Medical Update, Dr. Barbara Pahud (rhymes with “food”) from Children's Mercy returned to answer back- to- school questions while Dr. Kenny Southwick, executive director of Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City joined to share some of the struggles districts are facing with infection prevention this fall.
Dr. Pahud reported Children’s Mercy is at capacity and cites two reasons. More children with COVID are needing care than ever because those under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated. The other reason is more kids are getting childhood diseases like RSV, which is usually a disease seen in the winter. It’s because last year at this time, everyone was in quarantine and wearing masks, which is not happening now. She discussed the possibility of reinstating mask mandates and said it’s not the popular choice but it’s the right choice to save lives, since not enough people are vaccinated. She urges parents to get their kids 12 and older vaccinated now so they will have full protection when school starts in a few weeks. In her words, “It’s kind of sad, in my opinion, to see that we of course want to put a priority into the economy, reopening everything, restaurants everywhere you go right now around the city, everything’s open, no masks required. But when we’re talking about children and knowing what’s the right thing for them and how to bring them back to school, we really push back on the masks. But it’s important to keep the kids in school.” She says kids have become comfortable with masks and warns they can still transmit the virus to each other. She also says public misinformation about the vaccine is a big problem. The most common myth is it causes infertility. Past vaccines have had clinical trials with only 30 to 40 thousand people, but she stressed with more than three billion doses administered around the world, we have more safety information on this vaccine than any other vaccine ever in the history of the world. She says you are more likely to be hit by lightning than to have a serious adverse reaction. She anticipates full approval for the adult vaccine in September and for kids 12 and older by the end of the year. Clinical trials for young children are in progress. She reminds everyone the mRNA vaccines do not carry a live virus, and therefore are extremely unlikely to have any long-term effects, just the short-term reactions that go away.
Dr. Southwick works with 32 school districts in the region. He says the majority of teaching this fall will be in person, while each school district is reviewing all available data to help form their own policy on masks. He says schools will not be able to ask if eligible children or teachers are vaccinated, which makes masking more likely. When vaccines become available for the younger children, he believes schools will play a big part in helping them get the shots. He says there is some worry whether summer camps will be super spreader events for kids as they come back to classrooms. He says parents above all want information on how to prepare their kids and they want assurances schools will be safe. He strongly advises parents to get all the regular required vaccinations for their children if they have not done so. He stressed a COVID vaccination for every eligible member of the family is the best way to stop the pandemic.
Nathan Bahr, MD, infectious disease physician at The University of Kansas Health System, reminds those getting vaccinated that it isn’t a free pass to hang out in a crowd of 100 without masks before the vaccine takes full effect. He’s frustrated that the guidance of asking those unvaccinated people to wear a mask is not working. He says, “I’m not worried about a downside to a mask mandate. I’m worried about people dying in the meantime.” To those who believe masks are dangerous due to a buildup of CO2, he says emphatically, “That’s not true.” He explained it’s been studied, and the evidence is overwhelming that does not happen. “If masks were causing CO2 buildup, think about all the healthcare workers that would have been passing out in the operating room in eight-hour surgeries.” He says right now if you test positive for COVID, it’s safe to say it’s the Delta variant. He says if you or your children feel sick or think you have symptoms, you should get tested, rather than trying to be tough and going to work, putting your coworkers at risk. He says there are no long-term concerns from the vaccines but there are long term concerns from COVID.
Tuesday, July 27 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. We’ll share stories of COVID survivors who are still struggling with symptoms months after testing positive. We’ll hear from one long-hauler on the COVID divide in her family and the difficulties she's faced physically, emotionally and socially. We'll also share data regarding ages and top symptoms we're seeing in our long COVID clinic.
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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