Omicron variant affecting health systems as new year begins

Posted at 9:46 AM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 10:51:38-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Kansas Health System held its first media briefing of 2022 as the omicron variant continues to push COVID-19 case totals to record levels in the Kansas City area and across the country.

The hospital had 73 active infections, with 20 in their intensive care units, 14 on ventilators, and 35 in recovery on Monday morning, putting their total patient population at more than 100. The system is also dealing with staffing issues.

"We have over 500 employees out and that's a big number," chief medical officer Dr. Steven Stites said. "They're both on isolation and people who are quarantined... it's a challenge because I suspect in our area we have a mix of delta and omicron, I've seen some things that are speculating we're probably on 45% Delta and 50% or 60% of omicron."

He said cases are rising following the holiday season.

"Now that we've had the New Year's Eve, we're still seeing our numbers escalate here and across the country," Stites said.

Stites confirmed that 500-plus figure is out of more than 13,500 employees, but said that hospital resources are still stretched. He added later in the briefing that he hopes to see more masking in the community.

"If you want to keep schools open and you want to keep businesses open, you've got to keep people healthy. You're either not going to have enough teachers or enough staff or too many students out in this omicron wave to think that you're going to really have successful schools in my opinion, or the business is going to be able to work if they don't have enough employees," he said. "So to me if you go inside public places, you have a mask on."