Kansas COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations slowing as weather warms up

Medical experts encourage vaccinations to maintain low caseload

by Noah Taborda, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, some Kansas hospitals are seeing low to no COVID-19 patients in critical care units as case numbers statewide appear to be in a lull.

Case numbers across the state continue to decrease from the spike in omicron variant cases in mid-January, easing the burden on many overwhelmed hospitals. For example, Ascension Via Christi in Manhattan reported earlier this month they no longer had any COVID-19 patients in their intensive care unit for the first time since 2020.

In Topeka, Stormont Vail reported nine total COVID-19 inpatients. The University of Kansas Health System still has 75 COVID-19 patients, but only 1 in the ICU because of the disease.

Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control for KU Health, said if the status quo were to remain, Kansas is trending in a good direction as the weather gets warmer.

“We are building up good individual immunity, and I hope community or population immunity as well,” Hawkinson said. “But we also know that the virus is continuing to circulate. Overall cases have been going down, hospitalizations have been decreasing, and so have deaths. So those are all good things, but we may be in a lull right now.”

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as of March 17, there are 29% of ICU beds available in reporting Kansas hospitals. The reduction in patient traffic comes as daily case numbers have dropped into and sometimes below the hundreds statewide, as opposed to the peak of the omicron surge where new patient counts were in the thousands every day.

Reporting from KDHE indicates 115 new COVID-19 cases, 4 new deaths and 45 new hospitalizations between Friday and Monday. That brings the total since March 2020 to 769, 333 cases, 8,150 deaths and 19,894 hospitalizations.

Vaccine rates also continue a slow climb statewide. Currently, 73.9% of Kansans have received at least one dose and 60.7% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among adults, the fully vaccinated rate is 71.5%.

Hawkinson once again encouraged Kansans to pursue full vaccination. He said while further research and guidance are still needed, recent reports indicating the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remained durable and effective during the delta variant surge is an encouraging sign for those who received the shot.

“It adds to this story that we know is true, that these vaccines continue to protect against hospitalizations, severe disease and death,” Hawkinson said.

With the BA.2 variant of COVID-19 surging in foreign countries, Hawkinson said now is the time for people to ensure they are well prepared. The so-called “stealth omicron” variant now accounts for 75% of coronavirus cases globally but only 23% of cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Karin Porter-Williamson, director of palliative care at the KU Health System, said her division is focused on helping families and patients deal with the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of COVID-19. She said case numbers spiking last year after a tame summer where restrictions were dropped was a gut punch to many people’s mental health.

With similar conditions this year, she is preparing her staff just in case.

“Right now, we’re, we’re in another lull that hopefully will be sustainable,” Porter-Williamson said. “We’ve worked to develop skills of resiliency, just to keep coming to work and doing our best job. We need to be able to adapt and just do the work that is in front of us the best that we can.”

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See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2022/03/21/kansas-covid-19-case-numbers-hospitalizations-slowing-as-weather-warms-up/

Police to begin towing vehicles with expired tags more than 45 days past due on May 1

Beginning on Saturday, May 1, the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department will begin towing any vehicles displaying tags that are more than 45 days past their renewal date.

Last March, in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-66, extending the deadline for vehicle renewals and new vehicle registrations. An additional extension in September specified that all vehicle renewals and new registrations needed to be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.

“The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department understands that while the extensions were very helpful, they may have caused some confusion for members of our community,” Major Kelly Herron, assistant chief, said in a news release Friday. “For that reason, we made the decision to delay towing orders in Kansas City, Kansas, until May 1 to allow us time to educate the community on the consequences of expired tags.”

After May 1, officers with the KCKPD can, and will cite any individual driving a vehicle with tags whose renewal or registration is 45 days past due and order its immediate towing, according to police.

Additionally, any vehicle parked on a city street with tags or registration 45 days past due, will also be subject to immediate towing.

Owners are then responsible for all fees associated with towing ($125) and storage of the vehicle ($35 a day), a police spokesman stated. Vehicles will only be released once owners present proof of current registration to the towing company.

“Delaying renewal or registration any longer means you could end up with a hefty bill as fees add up quickly,” Herron said. “We really hate to see that happen, but we are well past the governor’s deadline and still have many vehicles out there driving around with tags that are more than six months past due, and equally concerning, without proper insurance. So our plea to the community is act now so that we don’t have to tow you later – nobody wants that.”

Below are the ways in which tags may currently be renewed:
• on your cell phone with the myWYCO app.
• online at mywyco.wycokck.org.
• by placing renewal documents and payment in the drop-off box located outside the Wyandotte County Annex, 8200 State Ave.
• by mailing renewal documents and payment to 710 N 7th St., Suite
240, Kansas City, KS 66101.

If mailing, be sure to include a copy of insurance and note your license plate number in the check notation

To determine if you can drop off or mail in titling on a new vehicle, complete the online eligibility form at wycokck.org/Auto. If eligible you need to send the original signed title, copy of insurance, copy of your valid driver’s license and the vehicle inspection certificate (if purchased outside Kansas). Additional documentation may be required.

For more information, or if you have questions, visit wycokck.org/Auto or email the Wyandotte County Treasurer’s Office at ugmotorvehicle@wycokck.org with questions.

KCKCC deals Cowley first Jayhawk baseball setback

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC sports information

Kansas City Kansas Community College dealt No. 7-ranked Cowley College its first Jayhawk Conference defeat in 10 games Tuesday.

Limiting the Tigers to four hits, the Blue Devils took a 5-2 opening game win before dropping a 14-1 5-inning nightcap.

The two teams will complete their four-game series at KCKCC Tuesday, April 5. At Johnson County Thursday, the Blue Devils (4-2) next play host to the Cavaliers Saturday.

Lefthander Tre Simmons allowed four hits in six innings to run his record to 2-0. A freshman from Olathe West, Simmons struck out three and walked three. Sophomore Parker Weddle finished up, striking out two three hitters he faced.

Raymond Paniagua delivered the game’s biggest blow. Paniagua followed a one-out walk with a run-scoring triple and then scored on Caleb Adams’ ground ball for a 2-1 lead in the third. KCKCC broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth, scoring the go-ahead run on a double play after loading the bases without a hit and then added two insurance runs in the seventh, scoring both on wild pitches after a lead off singled by Camden Karlen.

Cowley (19-3) broke open the 11-1 nightcap by scoring seven runs on the second off starter Alan Mercado (0-2) and reliever Joseph Reyes.

KCKCC was limited to singles by Cole Dawson, Darius Freeman, Beau Grable and Paniagua. Cowley’s Racer Felter and Jerome Tylicki combined to strike out nine and walk two.