Some area hospitals seeing slight increase in COVID-19 patients

Some area hospitals are seeing a slight increase in COVID-19 patients during the past two to three weeks.

Doctors from area hospitals at the Tuesday morning media update at the University of Kansas Health System said they had seen a slight increase in COVID-19 patients. Typically, the patients are younger and nearly all are not vaccinated.

A few COVID-19 patients who have been vaccinated had other health problems beside COVID-19, according to the doctors.

Doctors think the Delta variant may be causing the slight increase.

Dr. Mark Steele of Truman Medical Center said the Delta variant has proven more transmissible, and the people who are at risk are those who are unvaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated need to be careful about masking and social distancing, and get vaccinated as soon as possible, he said.

In parts of rural Missouri, vaccination rates may be as low as 15 to 20 percent, which could be responsible for the surge in areas of Missouri, including Springfield, according to the doctors.

Dr. Larry Botts of AdventHealth said it would be very difficult to reinstate a mask mandate, and he did not see that happening in Kansas, although it’s a good idea to voluntarily wear a mask to protect oneself and others. Instead, the focus should be on getting people vaccinated, according to the doctors. One current problem is trying to get unvaccinated people to follow CDC guidelines and wear masks, according to the doctors.

One dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is only about 30 percent effective against the Delta variant, and it takes both doses to reach 90 percent effectiveness, according to the doctors.

A potential spike in patients from the Fourth of July weekend could mean problems for hospitals, as they are nearly full of other patients currently, according to the doctors.

Dr. Rahgu Adiga of Liberty Hospital said any spikes in COVID-19 patients from the Fourth of July weekend would be a concern. If most gatherings happen outside rather than indoors, that’s a plus, he said.

Typically, infections may take a week or two to show up, and hospitalizations a longer time, six to eight weeks, after an event, according to Dr. Adiga.

KU Health System had a total of 21 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday morning, as compared to single digits a few weeks ago, according to Amanda Cackler, director of quality and safety.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, said they’re learning the hard way, especially in southern Missouri, that if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not safe. He said KU Health System and the other area hospitals were getting some COVID-19 patients from the Springfield area because those hospitals were full.

The vaccines are safe, one of the safest things you can do, and more than 2 billion doses have been given in the world, he said.

“It’s far safer than driving your car, it’s far safer than chemotherapy, it’s far cheaper than any other drug you’re going to take,” Dr. Stites said. “ The proof is in the pudding, folks, and the pudding clearly shows us after billions of doses of vaccination that it is clearly safe.”

KU Health System is giving COVID-19 vaccinations to those who make an appointment.People may make an appointment through MyChart, may call 913-688-1227 or may visit

Free COVID-19 vaccines available

The Unified Government Health Department’s east vaccine location at the Kansas National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th, (near 18th and Ridge), Kansas City, Kansas, will be open to those age 12 and older from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 1. Walk-ins will be accepted.

Hours now through July 2:

• Kmart site (7836 State Ave, Kansas City, Kansas)
o Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. – vaccine and testing incentives available.
• Armory site (100 S. 20th St, Kansas City, Kansas)
o Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. – vaccine and testing incentives available.

Hours beginning the week of July 5:

• Kmart site (7836 State Ave, Kansas City, Kansas)
o Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. – vaccine and testing incentives available.
• Closed: Armory site (100 S. 20th St, Kansas City, Kansas

Mobile vaccines can still be requested online at or by calling 3-1-1 (913-573-5311).

Other sites available for vaccinations

Vaccinations at KU Health System are open to the public. Current patients may use MyChart to make an appointment. Others may call 913-588-1227 or visit to make an appointment to get vaccinated. KU Health System currently is vaccinating residents of Kansas and Missouri who are 12 or older, by appointment only. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the appointment.

There are also pharmacies giving free COVID-19 vaccinations in Wyandotte County by appointment, when available. These include Price Chopper and Hen House pharmacies, which are now also accepting walk-in vaccinations or appointments, and are starting vaccinations for age 12 and up at those pharmacies that are giving Pfizer vaccine (see

CVS has announced walk-in appointments for COVID-19 vaccine at some of its stores. Those interested in getting a vaccination at a CVS pharmacy are asked to visit a CVS website in order to make sure there is vaccine available. The website is at Walgreens and Walmart also were listed on as giving vaccinations.

Other pharmacies and sites giving vaccines are listed at The website also tells whether vaccines are in stock at the locations.

Case numbers reported

There were 13 active COVID-19 patients on Wednesday morning at the University of Kansas Health System, the same as Tuesday, according to Amanda Cackler, director of quality and safety. Five patients were in the intensive care unit, the same as Tuesday. Four of those patients were on ventilators, the same as Tuesday. One remains on an ECMO device, which is similar to dialysis for the lungs. Eight other COVID-19 patients were still hospitalized but were out of the acute phase, the same as Tuesday. There were a total of 21 COVID patients, the same number as Tuesday. There was a wide range of ages.

Wyandotte County reported an increase of 15 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, June 30, for a cumulative 19,080 cases, according to the Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 webpage. There was a cumulative total of 299 deaths reported, no change.

The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 177,327 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday in the Kansas City region. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 58.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 318,106 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Kansas on Wednesday, June 30, an increase of 455 cases since Monday. There was a total of 5,156 cumulative deaths reported statewide.
According to KDHE figures, Johnson County had a cumulative 59,916 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, June 30, an increase of 92 since Monday. Sedgwick County had a cumulative 58,027 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, June 30, an increase of 74.

The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday night 33,664,949 COVID-19 cases in the United States, with 604,714 total deaths reported nationwide. There were 11,596 new cases nationwide and 359 new deaths nationwide.
States with high numbers of new cases were Texas, 2,095; Missouri, 933; California, 931; Nevada, 625; and Arizona, 546.
Countries with high numbers of new cases were Brazil, 64,903; India, 45,951; Colombia, 25,880; Argentina, 24,065; and U.S., 11,596, according to Johns Hopkins information.

Free testing available

Free COVID-19 testing is available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 1, at the Kansas National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th (near 18th and Ridge, Kansas City, Kansas, through the UG Health Department.

Besides Health Department sites, free COVID-19 testing is available at several locations in Wyandotte County.

Visit for more sites.

Wyandotte County residents may contact the Health Department at to sign up for a test to be delivered to their home.

For more details about free COVID-19 testing offered by the UG Health Department, visit, or call 3-1-1.

The Health Department’s general contact page is at The department’s Facebook page is at

Testing sites are at There are more test sites listed on this page.

Saliva testing is now offered at the UG Health Department. For more information, visit

The University of Kansas Health System morning media update is online at

The University of Kansas Health System COVID-19 update page is at

A vaccine report for the state of Kansas is at

The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at

The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at

The Wyandotte County page on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website is at

The Johns Hopkins Data in Motion, a presentation on critical COVID-19 data in the past 24 hours, is at

Monarchs rained out again

The Kansas City Monarchs might be in the business of offering lakefront lots instead of baseball seats this Wednesday as the rain once again foiled the club’s start of their series with the Sioux Falls Canaries.

In lieu of building a dock, the club has been forced to postpone the doubleheader, originally scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Wednesday, until Thursday owing to the lake-like conditions over Kansas City during the last 24 hours.

The teams will play a doubleheader of two seven-inning games at 5 p.m. Thursday, with the gates opening at 4 p.m.

If fans purchased tickets for Wednesday’s game, they can be exchanged for Thursday’s game or for any future 2021 regular season home game. To exchange tickets, fans can either call the Box Office Thursday starting at 10 a.m. at 913-328-5618 or exchange them in person at the Box Office. For fans holding tickets for Thursday night, those tickets are good for both games.

The gates will open at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon at Legends Field in KCK. The games can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 4:35 p.m. and the video stream airing on

Tickets to Monarchs games can be purchased by calling 913-328-5618 or by

  • Story from Dan Vaughan, Monarchs

4 ways Republicans could redistrict the only Kansas Democrat in Congress out of a job

Now that Congress has killed a major bill changing election rules, redrawing legislative and congressional lines will fall to the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature. That could endanger the only Democrat representing Kansas on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids has now won Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District twice. But Republicans in control of redistricting in Kansas may attempt to change that by gerrymandering her district to become unwinnable. (Photo by Carlos Moreno, KCUR)

by Abigail Censky, KCUR and Kansas News Service

Topeka, Kansas — When Republicans in Congress blocked debate on the Democratic-led elections overhaul bill last week, it dashed U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids’ hopes that her district could be redrawn by an independent commission.

Instead, the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature looks poised to draw maps used for the 2022 election and likely to determine political careers for the next decade.

With a nonpartisan panel charting the new districts based on the 2020 Census, Rep. Davids could expect to run for re-election in a district fairly similar to the one that elected her to the U.S. House twice.

With redistricting left to state lawmakers, the Republicans who dominate the Legislature have more freedom to gerrymander — the practice of manipulating a voting district to ensure a favorable outcome for one party. Rep. Davids told MSNBC in early June she’s worried that state Republicans are “saying, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em.’”

Former state Senate President Susan Wagle said nearly as much to a group of conservatives in Wichita last fall.

Gov. Laura Kelly can veto the redistricting plan. But Republicans would have the votes to override her.

“We can do that, I guarantee you,” Wagle said. “We can draw four Republican congressional maps.”

That video went viral. Democrats and The Kansas City Star editorial board alleged Republicans were saying the quiet part out loud.

Kansas is one of 29 states where the state legislature wields total control over redrawing the lines of both state legislative and congressional districts. For now, the 2020 Census data is delayed. That forces lawmakers to contemplate whether to begin holding town halls across the state for public input on the new maps without the latest population numbers. All the information the state needs to draw new maps should arrive by the end of September.

Lawmakers could theoretically begin to work with the state’s legislative research department to draft maps then. But that process could remain behind closed doors until legislators return to session next January. Here are four strategies that the Republican-controlled body may use to oust Rep. Davids from her seat:

Kansas’ 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Emporia to the Colorado border, has lost population over the last decade while Kansas City commuter counties like Johnson and Wyandotte have grown. That change will need to be reconciled in new maps. The Kansas Legislative Research Department says each of Kansas’ four congressional districts will need to have roughly 734,470 people.

The drawing board

Republicans could dilute the strength of Johnson County, the state’s bluest and most populous county, by adding part of Johnson County to the state’s 2nd Congressional District. But that could put Republican U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, who represents Topeka and Lawrence, in jeopardy by making his district more Democratic.

Michael Smith, a political science professor at Emporia State University, said you’d have to do more than strip out Wyandotte County to make the 3rd District losable for Rep. Davids, given her vote totals and President Joe Biden’s eight-point victory there.

“You have to split Johnson County in order to achieve that,” Smith said.

Yet that risks infuriating constituents and groups that want to remain together in the county that’s home to more than 20% of the state’s population and produces a quarter of its GDP, Smith said.

Toy with Wyandotte County

The 3rd Congressional District currently covers all of Johnson and Wyandotte counties and parts of Miami County. Republicans could further weaken Democrats by shifting the borders so parts of reliably Democratic Wyandotte County get included in the sprawling, heavily Republican and mostly rural 1st Congressional District.

“I absolutely think that there are some individuals in the Legislature that will want to give it a try,” Smith said.

State Sen. Ethan Corson, a Democrat from Johnson County and former executive director of the state party, said shifting Wyandotte out of the district could backfire on Republicans.

“I don’t think that’s going to pass legal scrutiny,” Corson said.

Veto override

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly can veto any maps that don’t keep counties whole, dilute minority voting strength or don’t keep districts “clear and contiguous” as prioritized in the redistricting guidelines used by the state in 2002 and 2012.

But after winning seats in the 2020 elections, Kansas Republicans have an even stronger supermajority in the Legislature. If Kelly vetoed a map that endangers Rep. Davids, they could override her. However, the Kansas Supreme Court will still need to approve the final maps.

Running out the clock

A dramatically less plausible fourth strategy for Republicans would be to stall and cross their fingers that Kelly isn’t re-elected to a second term. Then a Republican governor could sign off on their maps.

Ten years ago, Kansas was the last state to draw its congressional districts because of a dispute between Republicans about where to move Manhattan. Federal courts intervened and drew the current maps.

But congressional and state legislative candidates are required to file to run for office by June 1, 2022, so maps need to be drawn before the end of next year’s session in May.

“The courts will run out of patience, the federal courts in particular,” Smith said. So, running out the clock really isn’t a practical option because the courts will just “draw the district if they drag this out too long.”

Abigail Censky is the political reporter for the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @AbigailCensky or email her at abigailcensky (at) kcur (dot) org.
The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.
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