Tuesday Media Briefing on COVID-19

Tuesday Media Briefing on COVID-19

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Doctors are pleased by another slight drop in the number of active COVID-19 patients being treated at The University of Kansas Health System today. 64 people with the active virus are hospitalized, down from 66 yesterday. 23 patients are in the ICU, same as yesterday. 13 of those ICU patients are on ventilators today, down from 14 yesterday. 51 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 56 yesterday. That’s a total of 115 patients, down from 122 yesterday. In addition, HaysMed has a total of 26 COVID-19 inpatients, up from 24 yesterday, with 21 of those active patients and 5 in the recovery phase. One patient there died since yesterday.
On today’s Morning Media Update, KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman joined to answer questions about vaccines and how they are being distributed. Dr. Mario Castro returned with news of a trial involving two new monoclonal antibody therapies. He's enrolling patients and shared the criteria.
Dr. Norman was quick to dispel reports that Kansas was 50th out of 50 states in vaccinating its citizens saying it was a reporting delay and not a vaccination delay. He says Kansas “blew by” 30 states since Friday and is now in the “top tier” of states that have given vaccinations. He explained each state has the authority to make its own determination of vaccine priorities, which can differ from the Federal plan. He outlined the Kansas Vaccination Phases by population, which can be found at the website kansasvaccine.gov. He described the five phases, and said the second phase, which should be ready by the end of January, will be the longest at approximately two months. It will be June when the vaccine is available to the general population. He says the state wants to be fair and equitable with the vaccine and does not want doses sitting on shelves or wasted. He also advised that Kansas is not holding back doses for second vaccines because new doses are arriving. He noted Wyandotte and Johnson Counties are all ready for mass vaccination clinics and are just waiting for the vaccine. He also pointed to the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker to show how many people in each state are getting the vaccine. He does caution that the data reporting will always lag behind actual vaccinations. He wishes people would think of their fellow man and said there’s no reason for “COVID-shaming,” in which some people disparage those who try to get their vaccine early, or those who say they don’t want it at all. For the vaccine hesitant, he says most people choose to get the vaccine out of fear of the disease or somebody they trust tells them to. He urges everyone to find that trusted person for advice and says healthcare workers need to be the biggest advocates. He also discussed an aggressive marketing campaign on the way thanks to an influx of federal money.
Dr. Castro said he’s now enrolling patients for a clinical trial of two new monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19. Those are treatments designed to be given to outpatients who are in the early stages of infection. "The criteria for these trials are different than before as there's a need to focus more on high-risk individuals," Castro said. The trials are open to those 60 and older or those under 60 who are smokers or who have obesity, high blood pressure, active cancer, chronic lung disease, kidney or liver disease, or who are immunocompromised due to chronic illness or cancer treatments. He says the sooner you enroll the better and suggests doing so as soon as you get a positive test result, even if your symptoms are not severe. He says it’s better to get treatment early than let the symptoms get worse. To enroll or get more information, call study coordinator Luigi Boccardi, at 913-588-4022.
Dana. Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, reminds us that reinfection can happen but it’s rare. He says there’s no evidence the vaccine will make long hauler symptoms worse and if you get a negative COVID-19 test but symptoms persist, get tested again with the PCR, or nasal swab, as false negatives can happen with other kinds of tests.
Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, urges us all to sit back and listen to the science. “Faith helps keep us strong, hope gets us through to tomorrow and science gets us back to the way we want to be. Together we can do that.” He says we need to take care of each other and always follow the rules of infection prevention, even after receiving our vaccination.