With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing both nationally and in the Greater Kansas City area, doctors at the University of Kansas Health System discussed the importance of keeping masks on and socially distancing at this time.
While KU Health System admitted its 1,000th COVID-19 patient, cases in the nation have increased from 30 to 40 percent in the two-week rolling average recently, according to Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer for the KU Health System. This is the time to keep your guard up.
Dr. Stites said people in bars and restaurants, for example, need to keep their masks on except for when they’re actually eating and drinking. Some people may feel they can take the masks off for the entire time they’re inside, but that’s not recommended.
Although a vaccine may be coming in the future, they don’t really know yet when they will be able to get back to normal, according to Dr. Stites. It may be a year from now, but life will probably get better a little at a time, not all at once, he said.
With rising numbers of cases, people are probably at a bump in the road, but it will be a question of not whether they will handle it, but how they will handle it, according to Dr. Stites. By following the doctors’ guidelines of wearing a mask, socially distancing, washing hands and staying home when sick, they can beat COVID-19, he said.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, did not agree that the numbers were up only because more testing is being done.
He said the amount of testing didn’t matter, in this sense, because the disease is still out there and people will still get sick.
The new CDC guidelines on cumulative exposure mean that the more you’re close to others, the more risk you have, he said. Masks work when they cover both nose and mouth, and are worn properly, he added.
Also at the news conference Tuesday, KU Health System respiratory therapists discussed the extra work and preparations they have undergone this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The KU Health System reported 36 acute COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Tuesday, an increase from 29 on Monday, according to Dr. Hawkinson. There were 14 patients in the intensive care unit, an increase from nine on Monday, and eight patients on ventilators, compared to four Monday. There were 41 other patients at the hospital from COVID-19 who are not in the acute phase now, an increase from 37 on Monday. HaysMed in Hays, Kansas, reported 20 total COVID-19 patienets on Tuesday, up from 17 on Monday, with four patients in the recovery phase.
Bed availability is a concern with the doctors, who are worried the hospital may not be able to accept as many transfer patients if the numbers keep rising.
Wyandotte County reported an additional eight COVID-19 cases on Tuesday afternoon, for a cumulative total of 8,133. There were no additional deaths, for a cumulative total of 164, according to the UG COVID-19 website at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.
The Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Hub on Tuesday reported 54,608 total COVID-19 cases for the nine-county Kansas City area. Total deaths were at 781. While the case rates and the number of tests was down, the hospitalizations were up, going from 381 last week to 408 this week, according to the hub, which is at https://marc2.org/covidhub/.
Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday night reported 8,777,038 COVID-19 cases in the United States, with 226,673 deaths in the nation. On Oct. 27, there were 66,784 new cases and 477 new deaths in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins website at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/.
Hutchinson inmate who had COVID-19 dies
A Hutchinson Correctional Facility resident who died Tuesday, Oct. 27, had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections. This is the seventh KDOC resident death related to COVID-19.
The resident tested positive for the virus on Oct. 13 and was transferred to the hospital on Oct. 16. The resident’s family has asked that his name not be released, according to a spokesman.
He was a 66-year old male with underlying medical concerns that contributed to his condition, according to the spokesman.
The resident was serving an indeterminate life sentence for aggravated sodomy. He had been imprisoned with the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) since August 1988.
Hutchinson is currently experiencing an outbreak. According to an Oct. 21 chart from KDOC, there were 253 resident COVID-19 cases and 26 staff member cases at the Hutchinson facility.
Free COVID-19 testing available Wednesday
A free COVID-19 pop-up test will continue from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, at Faith Deliverance Family Worship Center, 3043 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.
The pop-up test is through Vibrant Health and the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force.
The Unified Government Health Department has moved its COVID-19 testing from the 6th and Ann location to the former Kmart at 78th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. The hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Tests are free for those who live or work in Wyandotte County.
The tests now are open to asymptomatic people as well as those who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. Check with the UG Health Department’s Facebook page to see if there have been any changes in the schedule because of the weather or for other reasons. Bring something that shows that you live or work in Wyandotte County, such as a utility bill.
For more information about the new testing site at the former Kmart location, visit https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/10092020_newtestingsitewyco.pdf.
The KU doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/1256970957985535.
The UG COVID-19 webpage is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.
The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/.
The Unified Government COVID-19 hub outbreak map is at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/.
To see an NEA list of schools that have had COVID-19 cases, visit https://app.smartsheet.com/b/publish?EQBCT=aa3f2ede7cb2415db943fdaf45866d2f.
The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at https://marc2.org/covidhub/.
The CDC’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.