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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — COVID-19 hospitalizations have been steadily increasing since November, though the numbers are still below peaks seen earlier this year. It’s reached a point that’s concerning to Kansas City area doctors, especially with another holiday ahead.

“I know people are getting sick and tired of this, but every time we loosen up some of our regulations or let down our guard, we get another one of these spikes,” St. Luke’s Health System emergency physician Dr. Marc Larsen said.

Larsen said St. Luke’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled in one month.

“And most are unvaccinated,” he said.

On Nov. 1, there were 37 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 at hospitals in the St. Luke’s Health System. On Monday, there were 118 patients.

Over the weekend, the University of Kansas Health System had four people die due to COVID-19.

“It’s hard to explain it unless you’ve seen the patients when they’re struggling,” Larsen said, “you’ve seen the fear when they can’t breathe.”

In Johnson County, Kansas, officials said the COVID-19 positivity rate is about four times where we were a few weeks ago.

“We encourage everyone to get their booster shots,” Johnson County Health Director Dr. Sanmi Areola said.

This week, Johnson County’s health department started administering booster shots to 16- and 17-year-olds. Missouri approved the same rules for its health departments Monday.

Larsen said the science shows boosters increase antibody levels.

“So just having a two-shot series right now is great,” Larsen said, “but if it’s been more than six months since your last shot, it’s important that you get that booster so that you are fully protected.”

Areola also still recommends masking and distancing while indoors.

“It appears that omicron might be more infectious, and that’s a scary thing for us because we basically have taken away all of our protection measures,” Areola said.

Doctors also said influenza cases are significantly up from last year. If you haven’t gotten you flu shot and are able, they encourage you to make an appointment now.

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