KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City metro continues to shatter unwelcome records in the fight against COVID-19.
October set a new high, with more than 14,000 infections, up 35% from just a month ago. Hospitals big and small continue to worry these big numbers could spell trouble.
As thousands already head to the polls to cast votes in this election, health experts are getting nervous about other numbers coming in.
Kansas City reported its single day high this weekend with 729 coronavirus cases.
“Obviously is the more infections, generally result in more hospitalizations and more deaths which is exactly what we don’t want to have happen,” said Dr. Mark Steele, Truman Medical Center chief clinical officer.
The University of Kansas Health System, Liberty Hospital, Truman Medical Center, and Advent Health Shawnee Mission all shared Monday, COVID cases within hospitals are holding steady, but recognize that could change in an instant, becoming a dangerous situation.
“It won’t take a lot of increase in either non-COVID or COVID patients to stress us,” said Dr. Larry Botts, Advent Health Shawnee Mission chief medical officer.
And it’s not just cases from the Kansas City area putting stress on the system. Liberty Hospital said more than half its current COVID-19 patients are coming from small, rural communities.
Some smaller hospitals are now having a hard time finding places with open, staffed beds to send patients needing a higher level of care.
“When people don’t take COVID seriously, hospitals and schools and businesses have to pay the consequences,” said Dr. Raghu Adiga, Liberty Hospital Chief Medical Officer.
Hospitals said they’re seeing hospital patients get younger.
Shawnee Mission schools show its number of students in “active isolation” for COVID-19 more than doubled, to 232 students, in the past week.
“We’re still able to care for both our COVID patients and other patients requiring care but there is a concern that as respiratory illnesses increase, as they always do during winter months as you know, we may find there’s a concern that we’ll find ourselves in a difficult situation,” Botts said.
If there is good news, doctors said because they’re getting better at treating COVID-19, most patients are spending less time hospitalized and the number of hospital patients dying has dropped in half at many facilities.
“We bent the curve before, we can bend it again. It’s all about following pillars of infection control…if you don’t change your behaviors, we’re going to get in trouble,” said Dr. Steven Stites, University of Kansas Health System pulmonology and critical care specialist.