Kansas seeing downward trend in COVID-19 cases

Kansas COVID-19 cases by symptom onset date, statewide. (KDHE graph)

Kansas is seeing a downward trend in COVID-19 cases after a spike during the past few weeks, according to Gov. Laura Kelly.

Gov Kelly reported at a news conference Wednesday that Kansas was one of only three states seeing downward trends in COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Kansas reported 4,539 new COVID-19 cases since Monday, with 100 new deaths, she said. There was a cumulative total of 252,041 cases and 3,355 deaths.

“The past 10 months have been a long and challenging road, but at this time case rates are going down in our state and vaccine distribution is ramping up,” Gov. Kelly said.

As of Wednesday morning, Kansas had vaccinated more than 93,000 people, and it is closing the gap between the CDC data tracker and actual Kansas vaccination rates, she said.

Kansas is in the top tier of states providing COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Kelly said, because of improvement in reporting the vaccines, and had moved up to 17th.

The state is wrapping up its first phase of vaccinations to health care workers and essential personnel, she said. The distribution plan prioritizes the health of the most vulnerable populations, she said, and the federal government now is advising to add about 50 percent of the population to the first wave of those vaccinated. The state feels comfortable in placing 65 and older population in its next group, she said, as its placement is comparable to the federal guidelines.

As Kansas prepares to enter its second phase, it is working to ensure there is an adequate network of providers, and has agreed to participate in a national pharmacy partnership to increase the number of available vaccination sites across the state, she said. They will provide more information during the next week about vaccination sites.

The state would like to get more vaccine from the federal government, and it can start mass vaccine clinics when it gets enough vaccine, she said.

This week, Kansas received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 66,000 of Moderna vaccine. Of Moderna, 17,000 doses were prime, used for the first vaccination, and 49,000 were for the second vaccination, Gov. Kelly said. More information is at Kansasvaccine.gov.

Gov. Kelly said her proposed state budget announced this week includes funding for Medicaid expansion and for behavioral health care. It protects the services that communities and businesses need, not only to recover from the pandemic, but to emerge from it stronger than ever, she said.

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas health secretary, said it’s encouraging that Kansas is not seeing the heavy overcrowding of hospitals currently seen on the coasts, and that staff shortages are not as bad as they have been previously in Kansas, with most hospitals having some intensive care unit beds available. There is a “good sense of calm,” he said. There is a sense of relief.

“It’s gratifying to see health care workers get a little bit of a reprieve,” he said. He is hoping there isn’t an increase in case numbers from post-New Year’s gatherings.

“We cannot let our guard down,” Dr. Norman said. The vaccine is now being given to health care workers, who are not letting their guards down, but they feel there is progress being made, he said.

At the University of Kansas Health System news conference on Wednesday morning, doctors discussed the long-haul clinic offered there. Dr. Leslie Spikes, pulmonologist, said the most concerning complications they see are from inflammation to the lungs, causing scarring. From 30 to 50 percent of ICU patients show low oxygen levels, but are not short of breath and feel all right, she said. Dr. Spikes encouraged everyone, especially patients with pulmonary hypertension, to get the vaccine.

COVID-19 case numbers

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control, said there were 60 active COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Wednesday morning at KU Health System, a decrease of four from Tuesday. There were 25 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, an increase of two from Tuesday, and 11 of the ICU patients were on ventilators, a decrease of two from Tuesday. In addition, 50 other COVID-19 patients were still hospitalized, but were out of the acute phase, a decrease of one since Tuesday. The total of COVID-19 patients was 110, a decrease of five since Tuesday.

The doctors were seeing an improvement in the case numbers, and believe that residents were doing better at observing masking, social distancing, hand washing and other preventive measures after the holidays.

Wyandotte County reported an increase of 81 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 12, according to the Unified Government’s COVID-19 webpage. There were a cumulative 15,816 cases. There was a cumulative total of 208 deaths.

The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 136,495 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. There were 1,658 deaths, and 167 was the daily average of new hospitalizations.

The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday reported 23,077,262 total cumulative cases in the United States, with 384,764 total deaths nationwide.

Free COVID-19 testing available Thursday

Free COVID-19 tests will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Quindaro Community Center, 2726 Brown Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. The tests are offered through Swope Health and the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force. Appointments are not needed.

The Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 test site at the former Kmart building at 78th and State will be open on Thursday, Jan. 14, with testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tests are free for those who live or work in Wyandotte County. The tests are nasopharyngeal swab tests. The Health Department no longer uses saliva tests.

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. Bring something that shows that you live or work in Wyandotte County, such as a utility bill.

COVID-19 tests will be available from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pierson Community Center parking lot, 1800 S. 55th St., Kansas City, Kansas. Hours are subject to change depending on the weather and other factors. These tests are through WellHealth Management. For more information and to schedule a test, visit www.GoGetTested.com/Kansas.

Testing sites are at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.

For more information about the testing site at the former Kmart location, visit https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/10092020_newtestingsitewyco.pdf.

The governor’s news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/428831938311562.

The KU doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/739748226439484.

The new health order on hours for bars and restaurants is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/localhealthofficerorder011221.pdf.

Information about the new health order on extended hours for bars and restaurants is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/01112021ugissuesnewbarrestaurantorder.pdf.

The school health order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/localhealthofficerschoolorder01042021.pdf.

A letter explaining the school health order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/schoolletter_01052021_english.pdf.

To see information about the UG giving vaccines to health care workers, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/ug-to-start-giving-covid-19-vaccines-to-health-department-and-ems-personnel-next-week/.

Wyandotte County residents who are interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine may sign up at https://us.openforms.com/Form/2f2bcc68-3b6a-450b-9007-d39819db6572.

The KDHE vaccine report is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1708/COVID-19-Vaccine-Updates–123020-FINAL-PDF?bidId=.

Cards and letters of encouragement for caregivers at KU Health System may be sent to Share Joy, care of Patient Relations, 4000 Cambridge St., Mailstop 1021, Kansas City, Kansas, 66160. Emails can be sent to ShareJoy@kumc.edu.

Wyandotte County is under a mandatory mask and social distancing order. Also, the Wyandotte County health order with a limit of 10 persons to a gathering, and a closing time of 10 p.m. for restaurants and bars, with other new restrictions, is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/11162020localhealthorderexecuted.pdf.

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 KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at https://marc2.org/covidhub/.

The Wyandotte County page on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website is at https://bao.arcgis.com/covid-19/jhu/county/20209.html.

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