TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly and two Kansas City doctors held a news conference at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Johnson County to discuss ICU capacity in Kansas and concerns regarding COVID-19 spreading in schools.
Kelly said the situation in Kansas is concerning.
“Over the past several weeks, COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations of Kansans of all ages have risen exponentially. It shouldn’t be like this,” she said. “Not surprisingly nearly all the people admitted to our ICUs with COVID-related issues are unvaccinated. Our health care system is being stretched to the max.”
The governor said six of the state’s largest hospitals are at 100% capacity and two-thirds of the beds are filled with COVID-19 patients. She said others are perilously close to maximum capacity.
“I learned Wednesday night that more COVID patients had been admitted to our hospitals that day than on any other single day since the pandemic invaded Kansas,” Kelly said. “These patients are younger and sicker than those infected pre-vaccine availability.”
Two Kansas City area doctors talked before the governor about what they are seeing.
Dr. Andrew Schlachter and Dr. Dena Hubbard said hospitals are filled with younger and sicker patients due to the delta variant.
Schlachter said their health system had calls from as far south as the Texas border for urgent COVID and non-COVID transfers.
“Imagine, every hospital operating room, emergency room, and ICU bed that is too busy to take care of your true emergency,” he said. “We are running around all day, every day, from one fire to the next.”
Schlachter said most of the ICUs are filled with unvaccinated patients under the age of 60.
“These are patients on ventilators and ECMO machines with tubes coming out their body, comatose and paralyzed,” he said.
Hubbard, who deals with pregnant women and their children, said they continue to see more children hospitalized in the latest surge.
“This year, we are seeing many more COVID positive moms, unvaccinated, with more severe illness, needing not only ICU care but ECMO, heart-lung bypass,” she said.
She stressed the importance of pregnant women and anyone eligible getting the vaccine.
“While many have said, ‘I’m going to wait and see, I’m going to wait and see,’ there is no more time. There is no more time to wait. By the time you know you need it, it may be too late,” Hubbard said.
She added that children, as well as everyone else, should be wearing masks.
“If this continues, we will see outbreaks in schools. Kids will be in quarantine. Schools may shut down without an option for virtual learning,” Hubbard said.
As for misinformation on the pandemic, the doctors and the governor agreed there has been plenty.
“If you have questions, don’t go to Facebook, YouTube. Go to your physician,” Hubbard said.
“Hopelessness, because we are not feeling that we are being heard about how bad things are, and that we are seeing too many people choosing unwisely to remain unvaccinated,” Schlachter said.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Kansas has risen over the past two weeks from 605.14 new cases per day on Aug. 3 to 797.14 new cases per day on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the county health officer in Sedgwick County is proposing a mask mandate.