COVID-19 highlights for the week of 01/24/2022:
In the region, we are still suffering from COVID’s relentless attack — more cases, deaths, and hospitalizations every day, day after day.
- Cases have more than doubled in the past 2-weeks; hospitalizations remain at an alarmingly high level.
- One of many potential causes for COVID’s rampage is our inattention to mitigation measures — inadequate masking, crowded venues, and insufficient levels of vaccinations and boosters.
Strain on Healthcare:
- The strain all of this puts on our healthcare system puts everyone at risk. Waiting times in Emergency Rooms have increased, resulting in some patients waiting hours for access to critical care.
- Fluctuations day-to-day and facility-to-facility are unpredictable and make it difficult for hospitals to anticipate future needs.
- Limited staff and specialized equipment increasingly stretched to respond to continued high levels of admissions of patients with COVID, seriously affecting capability to provide much needed critical care for those with life-threatening chronic conditions and victims of accidents.
- Reduction of non-life-threatening medical procedures in hospitals due to shortages of space, staff, and supplies.
Risk to Essential Infrastructure:
- Workers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors continue to be impacted by increases in infections, stress, and fatigue, diminishing public infrastructure capacity.
- Our health, safety and security, and transportation systems are at severe risk of falling short of providing essential services.
- The nonprofit sector, which provides much need support to the at-risk populations in our community, are feeling the strain in cold weather shelters, homeless shelters, and food pantries.
What Can I Expect?
Diminishing Standards of Care:
- Longer wait times for emergency services and a decreased availability of local hospital beds.
- You may receive this message: “The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases has created more demands of the healthcare system. You may receive communication as we prioritize critical healthcare resources. Please know your care team continues to offer in-person and telehealth appointments, diagnostic testing and treatment. If reallocation of resources affects your visit or procedure, you will be contacted directly. We are committed to your care.”
Increased prevalence of COVID:
- Given the current trajectory, we can anticipate continued increases in cases and hospitalizations throughout the region.
- Mitigation measures (masking, distancing, and vaccinations / boosters) remain our best option to change this trajectory, but we are falling short.
- Unvaccinated individuals or those without a booster have a greater risk of contracting and spreading COVID.
What Can I Do?
Avoid large-scale gatherings:
- Don’t give COVID-19 a chance to spread. Avoid, cancel or postpone large gatherings/meetings where you can’t maintain social distancing.
- If you choose to attend a gathering, wear a mask — even in outdoor settings — and follow these guidelines:
- Don’t host or attend events for eating or drinking (which requires the removal of masks and increases risk of virus transmission).
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
- Choose events that take place outside with enough space for attendees to stay at least 6 feet apart.
- Stay home if you feel sick.
- If you are planning a large-scale event, require proof of vaccination for attendees.
- Gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice.
Wear a well-fitting mask and wear it correctly – this has an immediate effect on lowering risk of transmission.
- Everyone should wear a mask in public indoor settings. Community levels of transmission are over 13 times higher than the CDC threshold recommending this action in a majority of KC Metro and surrounding counties (CDC).
- Things to remember that can keep you safer:
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, can be secured under your chin, and fits snugly against the sides of your face.
- Select a mask that has a nose wire toprevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.
- Visit the CDC’s page “Your Guide to Masks; How to select, properly wear, clean, and store masks” for a “how-to” of all things to do with masking – especially as a tool to fight Omicron.
Get vaccinated or get your vaccine booster – this protects into the future.
- Check with your primary care physician or pediatrician’s office on where to find a vaccine or booster near you.
- You may also visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233; or visit Prepare Metro KC (preparemetrokc.org).
- Boosters have shown to be especially important in combating the Omicron variant.
- CDC recommends that everyone ages 12 years and older get a booster shot after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series.
- You are eligible for a booster at 5 months after completing Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series, or 2 months after the initial J&J/Janssen vaccine.
- Individuals ages 12-17 are only eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Reduce the Burden on our Healthcare System
- Minimize community spread: Re-evaluate your activities to reduce the risk of infection.
- Get tested after potential exposures.
- Visit PrepareMetroKC to see testing locations near you. If you cannot get tested and have been exposed, take additional precautions until you are able to test.
- Continue to follow your local public health guidance regarding isolation and quarantine.
- Emergency rooms remain open; Please reserve these resources for medical emergencies. Use your Primary Care Physician or an Urgent Care Facility as an alternative to Emergency Rooms whenever appropriate.