Flu, RSV, COVID on the rise in Kansas and Missouri.  Hospitals reach capacity

Flu, RSV, COVID on the rise in Kansas and Missouri. Hospitals reach capacity

Flu-like illnesses like COVID-19, RSV, influenza, and other viruses are on the rise in Kansas City and beyond. Data this week shows that COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the five counties and two cities that make up the metropolitan area.

Data reported on Tuesday shows there were 1,643 new cases reported on the subway last week. This is more than the 1,309 cases reported the previous week and 997 the previous week.

Local experts have warned of a rise in viral illnesses on the subway as flu season coincides with an RSV outbreak and colder weather forces more residents to congregate indoors. Children’s Mercy Hospital is already at capacity with sick patients, and other hospitals are starting to feel the pressure as well.

How are hospitals resisting the surge in viral illnesses?

As of Thursday morning, the University of Kansas Health System reported having 45 patients with active COVID-19 infections, five of whom are in intensive care.

“Our number of active infections has increased from the past two weeks, when it was in the mid-20s to low 30s,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of disease prevention and control. hospital infections, during a press briefing on Thursday. .

Data from the Mid-America Regional Council shows that hospital beds in the metro area are filled to about 82.5% of capacity as of Monday, Dec. 5. COVID-19 patients represent just over 5% of the total bed capacity in the metro.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment tracks two endpoints of “flu-like illness,” which Hawkinson says includes COVID-19, RSV, and other viruses that cause fever and cough or a sore throat.

The percentage of patients with these symptoms has exploded in recent weeks, far exceeding the positivity rates of the past two years. The graphs below show the presence of flu-like illnesses in clinics, emergency rooms, and other health care facilities in Kansas.

ILINet graph.png
This graph shows the percentage of patients seen with ILI at local family practice practices, emergency departments, student health centers, and pediatric practices as reported through their partnership with the CDC. ILINet Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Syndromic Surveillance Chart.png
This graph shows the percentage of ER visits for flu-like illness in all of Kansas. 116 of Kansas’ 138 emergency departments provide data for this graph. Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of Community Outbreaks (ESSENCE) Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Should I get vaccinated even if I have already been sick?

Hawkinson recommended getting the flu shot and the COVID-19 shot amid recent surges of both viruses. This is true even if you have recently had a flu-like illness.

“For the flu, it’s recommended that you always get that flu shot even if you’ve had it (recently),” Hawkinson said. That’s because the flu shot provides protection against four strains of flu – and even if you’ve been sick before, the shot can help you avoid getting re-infected with another strain.

The same is true for COVID-19.

“It is always recommended that if you have had COVID-19, that you are updated with a reminder if you haven’t already,” Hawkinson added. “It can be done as soon as ten days you are no longer in isolation…but the CDC also considers that you can wait up to 90 days after having the acute illness before receiving your booster.”

Here’s where to find flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters in Kansas City.

Do you have any other questions about security during the latest virus wave? Ask the Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com.

This story was originally published December 9, 2022 5:30 a.m.

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Natalie Wallington is a reporter in The Star’s service desk, covering government programs, community resources, COVID-19 data and environmental action, among other topics. His journalism has previously appeared in The Washington Post, Audubon Magazine, Popular Science, VICE News and elsewhere.

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