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Kansas City becoming epicenter of current COVID-19 surge, other communities could be impacted

Doctors and nurses at St. Luke Hospital in Kansas City say they are feeling the impact of the...
Doctors and nurses at St. Luke Hospital in Kansas City say they are feeling the impact of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.(KWCH)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:03 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KWCH) - Top doctors in the Kansas City region are giving a stern warning that Kansas City can become the epicenter of the current COVID-19 surge.

Hospital beds are full, transfers are being turned away, and doctors fear it will only get worse as the Delta variant spreads.

Wichita hospitals worry that they too will see the same thing.

Currently, more than 70 people are in Wichita hospitals with COVID-19. That number is manageable for them, but other infectious diseases have spread since mask mandates ended, playing a big role in overwhelming their systems.

“We’re past the tipping point. We’re in trouble,” Dr. Steve Stites at the University of Kansas Health System said.

With masks in the past, other infectious diseases like influenza and RSV also spread throughout Kansas communities, using up beds that could be filled by COVID patients.

“We have a lot of medical patients here who are sick,” Stites said. “We can’t turn that off, that’ll keep coming. So another reason, going ack to those infection control guidelines will help shut off some of that flow of patients as well and open up more beds.”

For the first time since last fall, they’re out of beds, turning away transfers, and creating makeshift rooms for patients.

And as the delta variant spreads throughout the state, he fears this could happen in other communities too, unless more Kansans get vaccinated.

“We’re not vaccinated like we need to be, and people have gone back to trying to live life as normal. When in reality, we live in abnormal times.”

Since vaccination rates are lagging statewide, Stites said he thinks chief medical officers like himself will push for new mask mandates throughout the KC metro in hopes of reducing both COVID-19 hospitalizations and other viruses.

“We know the things that will keep us safe, even against the delta variant. Those are the rules of infection prevention and control.”

As of Thursday morning, more than 90 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the KC metro have not gotten the vaccine.

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