Doctors warn fans headed to Chiefs game to get boosted, mask up as hospitals see record-breaking COVID trends

13 News at Six
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 3:47 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas City area doctors have warned fans headed to the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game to get boosted and mask up as hospitals continue to see record-breaking COVID-19 trends.

The University of Kansas Health System says it has another record-breaking number of COVID-19 patients on Friday, Jan. 14. It said 129 patients have been admitted to the Kansas City hospital for treatment of active cases, which is up from 115 on Thursday. Only 22 of those patients are fully vaccinated.

“We can say COVID doesn’t affect us, but that’s about as effective as shouting at a Category 5 hurricane. This thing is on us, we have to take action,” said Dr. Amber Schmidtke, Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of St. Mary, a guest on Friday’s Morning Medical Update.

The Health System said three more patients died as a result of the virus on Thursday, which brings the hospital’s death total up to 21 since the beginning of the month.

According to the Health System, 29 patients are in the ICU, which is up from 24 on Thursday, and 21 of those are on ventilators, up from 19. It said 50 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID, but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 51.

In total, that is 179 patients being treated at KU’s hospital, a jump from 166 on Thursday.

Amanda Cackler, director of Infection Prevention and Control at the health system, said 85% of health system COVID patients who died in January were unvaccinated and 53% of those admitted are only admitted with COVID and no other co-morbidities.

According to Cackler, unvaccinated COVID patients are the sickest inpatients and are at the highest risk.

Dr. Tim Williamson, pulmonologist critical care specialist and VP of quality and safety at the health system, said it has been a rough couple of weeks in the region as hospitalizations have quickly spiked along with staff shortages. Surgeries have been delayed all over the Metro and transfers have been hard to accommodate.

Currently, Williamson said it is incredibly difficult to get into the ICU. He said patients have to be very sick in order to be admitted.

Dr. Schmidtke said Kansas and Missouri positivity rates are “sky high.” She said COVID case numbers tend to level off a week after wastewater testing results start to, however, testing results in the Metro show no signs of leveling off.

According to Schmidtke, case rates in all regions of the nation are rising fast, which dwarfs anything doctors have seen before. She said cases probably have not peaked yet.

Schmidtke used a risk assessment tool to show gatherings of 25 people in Kansas City have a 90% chance of having at least one person test positive for the virus. She said residents should use the tool to help decide whether to attend large gatherings or not.

With that, Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, warned Chiefs fans headed to the playoff game to get fully vaccinated and boosted before they go. He said to keep a mask on at the stadium as much as possible as Pittsburgh fans who mingle in the community could have an impact on COVID case numbers.

Hawkinson also warned Chiefs fans unable to attend to avoid big parties to watch the game and to stay home if anyone starts exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

Bill Teel, executive director of the Kansas City area Restaurant Association. said restaurants have been hit hard by COVID in the past two years. He said most are small businesses and have not survived the pandemic as staffing continues to be the main issue for all restaurants.

According to Teel, restaurants have stepped up their safety precautions with staff masking, constant sanitization, plexiglass barriers and limited guest numbers. He said Annual Restaurant week will focus more on delivery and takeout to keep the community safe.

Teel reminded Kansans restaurants are resilient as 50 new establishments have opened in the Metro in the first half of 2022.

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