Kansas COVID-19 infection rate now highest in US

TOPEKA, Kan. — The state of Kansas now has the nation’s highest rising average of COVID-19 cases per-capita, according to local doctors.

“The state that now has the highest average case per capita is Kansas,” KU Health System’s Dr. Steve Stites said Monday. “If you look at Kansas, highest increasing rate in the United States, not exactly the honor you want to receive.”

The news came alongside the latest statistics from the University of Kansas Health System, which show six people died of COVID-19 overnight, marking a total of 46 deaths since 2022 began. University Health has seen similar numbers with 39 patients dying from COVID so far this month.

The total number of COVID patients at KU Health System also hit an all-time high with 215, up from 213 Tuesday. Additionally, 27 patients are in the ICU with 16 on ventilators.

Stites went on to say that though the omicron variant is thought to be less severe, people can still die from it.

“Omicron, while perhaps less severe in overall for all patients, is very severe if you get it and end up in the hospital and it still causes a lot of deaths,” Stites said.

“Most of the deaths though are from people who are very remote from their initial vaccination, have never been vaccinated or had a really severe underlying disease suggesting that their immune system is very compromised. It should be a warning to all of us that Omicron is still very dangerous.”

Chief medial officers from across the region joined KU Health System on Wednesday, stressing that high COVID-19 cases also affects others with illnesses, injuries and necessary surgeries.

“The community – its not just COVID patients that we’re here to care for,” said Dr. Patricia Martin, St. Luke’s Health System’s vice president of medical affairs. “It’s these time sensitive critical diagnosis – strokes, heart attacks and trying to get those patients taken care of as well.”

Martin said their emergency rooms are swamped at at capacity, and that’s not just the case at St. Luke’s hospitals.

“We have nine holding in our ERs waiting admission,” said Dr. Lisa Hayes, chief medical officer at Advent Health Shawnee Mission. “Our longest wait is 32 hours. That’s a long time to spend on a cot.”