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A Record 100 People Are Hospitalized With Coronavirus At The University Of Kansas Health System

FILE - In this April 22, 2020, file photo, a nurse prepares to take a sample for a COVID-19 test during a drive-in testing outreach in the parking lot of a church in Kansas City, Mo. Doctors and nurses treating those sick and dying from the coronavirus said politics around social distancing and the lethality of the virus are complicating treatment efforts. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Charlie Riedel/AP
Doctors at the University of Kansas Health system said Monday they're treating a record 100 patients with active cases of COVID-19.

Doctors are pleading with the public to wear masks, as COVID hospitalizations continue to break new records around the Kansas City area.

University of Kansas Health system doctors are now treating a record-shattering number of patients for COVID-19 and they're warning the situation could get worse.

Almost half the 100 patients at the KU hospital are in intensive care. Of those, 26 were on ventilators Monday. Nearly 40 more patients remain hospitalized, but are recovering.

The system’s hospital in Hays, Kansas, is also seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients.

“We are on fire in the Midwest,” said KU Health System Chief Medical officer, Dr. Steve Stites on a video conference Monday.

The crisis is even more acute at Stormont Vail in Topeka. The hospital is treating a record 103 patients as of noon Monday. Hospital president and CEO Robert Kenagy called it an “all hands on deck” situation, and said hospitalizations are mounting quickly.

Kenagy said staff are currently triaging patients in the emergency room, and contemplating plans to transfer them to other hospitals.

Stites said that about one-third of the patients currently admitted are from outside the Kansas City metropolitan area.

In Kansas and Missouri, infections are still tracking at near-record levels, though down slightly from peaks set earlier this month.

Health officials warn another spike could come after Thanksgiving.

Stites said the situation is likely to intensify until more people routinely wear masks. Stites pointed to the the rate of infections inside hospitals as proof masks are effective.

“The infection rate inside hospitals of staff who wear masks taking care of COVID positive patients prove the point. The rate is virtually zero,” said Stites.

Stites says that without masks, the coronavirus would run rampant through the medical community, and hospitals that are overflowing with patients now might otherwise be closed.

KU doctors say masking will likely have to continue until a majority of the population is vaccinated, which could be next spring.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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