WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) — Speaking to doctors Thursday, they tell Eyewitness News that inpatient hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain low. Still, the number of patients with COVID-19 coming to the emergency room and the need for immediate COVID-19 care is increasing.
This is because variations of the Omicron variant are increasing case numbers across the country.
With the bank holiday weekend, doctors are reminding people who may be preparing to shed COVID-19 not yet out of their day-to-day lives.
KU School of Medicine – Wichita Associate Professor of Medicine/Director of the Center for Clinical Research Tiffany Schwasinger-Schmidt, MD, Ph.D., FACP said, “This virus is not going anywhere. It’s still with us. It still causes people to get sick.”
The latest update from KDHE shows that many counties in Kansas have high or significant prevalence of the virus.
With the prevalence and growing reliance on at-home testing, Dr. Schwasinger-Schmidt, the concern is that the data doesn’t give the whole picture.
She said, “We think our numbers are underrepresented again because we don’t have that steady influx from county health officials or some of the free testing that we used to have.”
dr Schwasinger-Schmidt added that they’re also seeing people staying home if they have symptoms and not getting tested, so they’re not counted in the data.
One encouraging sign is that the latest variants of COVID are showing milder symptoms, but that’s with a word of caution.
“People who are unvaccinated see some more severe symptoms than we do in the vaccinated population, so if you haven’t been vaccinated it’s still crucial. Please talk to your doctor about this,” said Dr. Schwasinger-Schmidt.
We also spoke to Wesley Medical Center’s ICU Medical Director, Dr. Chloe Steinshouer. She said people should remain cautious about the long-term effects. She added that the CDC recently found that 1 in 5 adults with COVID-19 had a long history of COVID-19, including people who only had mild symptoms during the original virus.
There are also more tools that doctors need to treat COVID, including antiviral pills that people can get at pharmacies.
“We’re hoping to create more of this in the outpatient world rather than our hospitals becoming overwhelmed like in the past, but it’s hard to predict. This virus is always changing, so the next change could also be something else,” said Dr. Schwasinger-Schmidt.
The KU School of Medicine – Wichita’s Center for Clinical Research continues to research the impact of some FDA-approved drugs during the virus outbreak. They are looking for participants over the age of 30 who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days.
The study, which is entirely off-the-shelf, will examine whether certain FDA-approved drugs can help people with mild to moderate COVID-19 feel better faster and stay out of the hospital.
But the best thing you can do overall is keep yourself as healthy as possible.
“So it’s really important that we all stay alert, we’re all doing and continuing to do all these measures to prevent the spread of infection and just making sure people stay safe and healthy,” said Dr . Schwasinger-Schmidt.
dr Steinshouer said people need to be mindful of their risk of exposure and be aware of being in areas that could put them at higher risk.
She added that people who have symptoms must stay at home until they recover to avoid spreading the virus to others.
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