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Wichita hospitals report re-emerging cases of viruses including flu, RSV

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:59 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita’s two main hospitals say viruses like colds, flu and RSV are re-emerging. Ascension Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center say this comes after almost a year of seeing low numbers of those illnesses.

Part of the explanation is that masks -- designed to prevent COVID-19, but also effective at slowing the spread of other viruses -- are no longer required at many places. Doctors say the saw a dramatic difference in their hospitals with people taking COVID-19 precautions.

“Over the wintertime, because of all the masking that was going on and the hygiene due to COVID, we haven’t seen much influenza at all,” said Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Emergency Medicine Medical Director Dr. Howard Chang. “Actually, I don’t think I personally diagnosed a single case of influenza, which is unheard of.”

Dr. Chang said they’ve seen more colds overall in emergency departments with the number of people wearing masks going down.

Wesley Medical Center Emergency Room Dr. Mark Mosley said the resurgence has happened within about the past month.

“It’s kind of weird to go to work and have quite a few kids with colds that we haven’t seen in the past 18 months,” he said.

What do the doctors recommend?

“If you’re having cold symptoms, wear a mask. Because wearing a mask will help prevent the spread of these common colds as well as COVID,” Dr. Chang said.

Dr. Mosley shared a similar message.

“We now have data that we weren’t even looking for, which is, that masks make a dramatic difference in the spread of other viruses that have just been off the radar,” he said. “And if someone believes that masks are not helpful for prevention and spread of viruses, they’re really living in an imaginary world of their beliefs not grounded in any scientific reasoning.”

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