News Briefs

Hospitalizations in Kansas and nationwide signal ‘summer surge’ of COVID-19

By: - August 4, 2023 2:39 pm
Nurses draw vaccine doses from a vial as Maryland residents receive their second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine March 25, 2021, at the Cameron Grove Community Center in Bowie, Maryland. The vaccinations were provided by Prince George's County's Mobile Units as vaccinations in Maryland are now over the 20% threshold. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Medical officials are calling the national uptick in COVID-19 cases a "summer surge." (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

TOPEKA — A national summer uptick in COVID-19 cases has arrived, but Kansas physicians are still waiting to see if cases in the state follow national trends.

Across the U.S., hospitalizations have been on the rise since the beginning of July, the first increase seen this year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The organization reported 8,035 new hospital admissions for the week ending July 22, marking a 12.1% increase compared to the week prior. The CDC has stopped tracking cases of infection, so hospitalizations are now the primary indicator of COVID-19 spread.

For the past three years, summer surges in COVID-19 have happened because of increased movement and travel. While the increase in cases isn’t near the levels seen during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, state physicians recommend taking summer booster shots.

The University of Kansas Health System reported treating 15 COVID-19 patients this week. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection prevention and control at the system, said it may be too soon to say there was an overall “summer surge” in Kansas.

“Whatever community you’re living in may be different than the next community over, or something that is further away from you, so I think we just need to wait about that, as far as the overall numbers,” Hawkinson said during a Friday news briefing.

New Kansas COVID-19 cases haven’t been widely documented since the end of the federal COVID-19 emergency declaration in May, when the state stopped updating statistics, but the vaccination rate is still tracked on a monthly basis.

CDC data show 65.6% of Kansans, including 76.3% of adults, have completed a primary vaccination series for COVID-19. And 15.9% of Kansans, including 19.6% of adults, have received a booster shot.

Hawkinson said elderly Kansans, along with residents who have pre-existing conditions, remain the most vulnerable to infection.

“This disease has really started to become a disease of those most at risk — certainly age, those with immunocompromising conditions,” Hawkinson said.

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.