Kansas City health officials optimistic about recent COVID case counts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When it comes to COVID-19, there is cautious optimism in the public health community.

The head of the World Health Organization is speaking out, saying he believes the global pandemic has a good chance of ending in the coming year. Kansas City subway doctors and public health officials are optimistic, but uncertain.

At the end of last week, General Tedros Adanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, addressed an audience at the last WHO briefing of 2021. He reportedly said: “2022 must be the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know the virus very well and we have all the tools to fight it. “

The WHO leader believes science and medical advances are making this possible. Here in the Kansas City area, hospitalizations are up slightly for at least one hospital.

The most recent patient totals from major Kansas City metro hospitals show the University of Kansas health care system had 63 patients as of Monday.

A spokesperson for the St. Luke Health System said 136 COVID-19 patients were in that hospital system on Sunday and, on Monday, University Health, formerly known as Truman Medical Center, had 63 active cases.

” We do not know. We don’t have a crystal ball, ”said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Kansas Health System. “We certainly have the resources to do it. We have the technology and the science to do it, but we need to be able to reap the benefits of science, which is vaccinations. “

Hawkinson is an optimist, as is Ghebreyesus, but he is among those who believe it is too early for the victory laps.

Subway health officials said on Monday that 51% of people living in the Kansas City area were fully immunized, and while the WHO may be right globally, there is still work to be done in many communities.

“We know how to make sure it’s not scary. We know how to make COVID something we could possibly live with, but we’re not taking these steps in this region right now, ”said Christina Heinen, director of the City of Independence, Missouri Health Department.

The Christmas season will likely affect total hospitalizations in the near future. Doctors saw spikes in infection rates after Thanksgiving in November and after the 2020 holidays as well. They are waiting to see if the total number of patients will jump again over the next two weeks, as the virus typically takes two to 14 days to show symptoms in patients.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, doctors have advised families to reconsider holding large gatherings or, at least, making sure all attendees are fully immunized.

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