‘Starting to be fairly concerning’: KC doctors wary as COVID-19 increase creeps toward metro

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The news is grim, from both the Centers for Disease Control and doctors in the Kansas City metro.

The CDC said Wednesday that COVID-19 cases increased in more than half of U.S. states and territories. According to a map the agency tweeted, Missouri is included among the highest number of cases. The CDC placed Kansas in the second highest category.

Overall, the CDC said the seven-day average of daily new cases is up more than 65% in the past week. The Mid America Regional Council tracks the number of COVID-19 cases in the Kansas City metro. According to MARC, cases here are up more than 20% over the past 7 days.

“It’s starting to be fairly concerning, we know it was very concerning down in southwest Missouri in Springfield,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infection prevention medical director at the University of Kansas Health System. “Here in the metro area, it’s starting to get concerning as well, with the number of cases certainly increased from a few weeks ago with the seven-day rolling average, but more concerning is the hospitalizations.”

In Springfield, Mercy Hospital said it had more than 129 COVID-19 cases Thursday. A total of 16 COVID-19 patients have died this week at that hospital.

Across town at CoxHealth in Springfield, doctors and nurses are dealing with similar numbers. Nearly 240 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized between the Mercy and CoxHealth in Springfield.

The numbers in Kansas City are much lower, but still higher than they were last week.

The University of Kansas Health System said it was treating a total of 44 patients for COVID-19 Thursday morning. That compared to 39 patients Wednesday. Metro-wide, the number of people admitted to hospitals because of COVID-19 jumped from 69 admissions on Monday to 86 admissions on Tuesday, according to MARC.

“The vast majority of these people that are in the hospital right now are unvaccinated,” Hawkinson said. “It’s a tragedy because this is so preventable, that’s a sad story.”

Hawkinson and other health experts continue to say the only way to lower the number of COVID-19 cases is to increase the vaccination rate. They’ve said the vaccine is safe and it’s available to people 12 and older.

“We do continue to have concern, you know, we do have frustration, all of that is kind of balled in together, because we know that these vaccines right now, continue to be a miracle of modern science and medicine to have this, these vaccines, which elicit very good immune responses to all the variants that we have seen, they are life saving and preventive measures that people still don’t want to take for one reason or another.”

Hawkinson said while he’s heard many reasons why his patients haven’t been vaccinated, he said the unvaccinated need to reconsider the decision.

“There are various reasons, but none of those reasons are good enough to override the general fact that these vaccines prevent you from going to the hospital, prevent severe illness, even in these young people because we are seeing a lot of young people in the hospital that are unvaccinated and otherwise healthy,” Hawkinson said.

If you want to get a COVID-19 vaccination, many retail pharmacies, county health departments and hospitals have walk-in availability.

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