With new subvariants, COVID cases, hospitalizations jump in Kansas

KU study finds masks slow spread of COVID-19
KU study finds masks slow spread of COVID-19(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - You may have thought it had gone dormant, but COVID-19 continues to have an impact on Sedgwick County, Kansas and the country.

Kansas saw a 30 percent jump in new cases over the last two weeks, according to data compiled by the New York Times. Hospitalizations from the virus are also up in the state in the last couple of weeks with a daily average of 223. That’s a 26 percent increase.

In Sedgwick County, hospitalizations are up as well. The percentage of tests coming back positive is nearing 17 percent, not including positive at-home tests.

“And it’s important to remember that these are just with the people that are actually going in somewhere to get tested, where it’s reported to a lab,” Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne said. “There’s a lot of people that are using home tests, and the majority are not reporting it through the website listed in that information, or to Sedgwick County or to KDHE.

Leaders at Wesley Medical Center say cases among hospitalized patients are typically mild, but there are some who are admitted to the ICU.

“In terms of our hospitalizations, in June we were in the single digits and those numbers have certainly increased to more than double to triple that number in the last two to three weeks,” said Wesley Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lowell Ebersole. “A majority of those patients are being admitted into acute care and not into the ICU. And some of those patients have been incidental findings in terms of if they’re admitted for something else. And of course, (we) test those patients for COVID. I looked recently and over the last two to three weeks, 5 to 15, 20 percent of our patients are in the ICU, so we are still seeing severe illness.”

Sedgwick County advises wearing a mask in large groups because the subvariants are extremely contagious.

Cases are on the rise again in many U.S. states as new immune-evading omicron subvariants are now dominating worldwide.

Omicron BA5 is now the dominant strain, accounting for around two in three new infections. The CDC said the variant is more transmissible and people with prior infections, even from BA1 and BA2 are still at risk.

Health leaders point out that deaths from COVID still remain relatively low given the number of infections. They credit that due to the availability of vaccines and the antiviral treatment Paxlovid. There is also talk of expanding second booster shots.

“In terms of opening up boosters to people under 50 or to all adults, let me be very clear--we have conversations all the time about what are possible things we can be doing to better protect the American people. So those conversations have been going on for a while. We are also very, very clear- I am very, very clear-- that these are decisions made by our regulatory agencies the FDA and the CDC,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha.

The CDC said vulnerable adults should not wait until the fall for omicron-specific COVID-19 shots, instead get boosted as soon as possible.

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