COVID concerns grow in Kansas as cases rise amid omicron variant

COVID cases, hospitalizations increasing up in Kansas
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 5:35 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - November and December 2020 are marked as the peak months of the coronavirus pandemic. But one year later, hospitals are facing another grim outlook.

Dr. Heather Harris is the medical director at Hays Med. She says it’s still a large curve and the COVID-19 cases are going in the wrong direction, especially with the vaccine available.

“It’s just unfortunate that people are still getting sick even when they don’t have to get sick,” said Dr. Harris. “I had a patient today die. I recommended the vaccine to him multiple times, and he, unfortunately, got COVID. He was unvaccinated. He was in his 60′s, and he’s now passed away.”

Hays Med started refusing transfer patients a week ago. Since then, the hospital has turned away close to 30 patients needing care.

“It’s very disheartening. Still, the great majority of our patients are unvaccinated, so you can imagine how if everyone was vaccinated, we would have less hospitalizations, and we would be able to care for everyone,” said Harris.

Hospitals are anticipating even more patients in the next few weeks after new testing data shows an increase in cases after Thanksgiving. On Thursday, Sedgwick County changed the status of its area hospital assessment from cautious to critical after the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped from 156 to 172 and the number of patients with the virus in the ICU increased from 48 to 59.

“We have definitely seen an increase going in the wrong direction,” said Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne. “Just a week or two ago, we were seeing maybe 100 cases a day, which is still a lot, because you’re looking at 700 a week. Yesterday and today, it will be 300 new cases a day. The day before, it was 200. So we are going from 700 cases a week to 1400-18000 cases a week.”

As hospitals prepare for another winter, doctors are asking yet again for people to protect themselves.

“Our message continues to be the same, that vaccination is still your best protection against the virus,” said Dr. Harris.

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