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COVID-19 Delta variant driving concern with rise in hospitalizations

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As the Delta variant of COVID-19 begins to pick up speed in Sedgwick County, health experts fear hospitalizations will continue to rise again.

Currently in Sedgwick County, 44 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 27 two weeks ago. The county’s hospitalization status is still considered “good,” but that’s not the case in some nearby communities where the Delta variant is driving another surge. It’s a trend already seen in Missouri. The Delta variant, which originated in India, is driving another surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated people. It’s seen at Cox Medical Center in Springfield, Mo.

“Virtually every single patient in the hospital with COVID is not completely vaccinated,” said Cox Health President and CEO Steve Edwards.

At Cox Medical Center, hospitalizations are five times higher than a month ago and about 90 percent of cases are the Delta variant. Once again, healthcare workers at Cox Medical Center are becoming overwhelmed.

“We’re already exhausted. We’re already emotionally fatigued. We’ve already been through this and now we’re having to go through it again,” said Cox Health ICU Nurse Sarah Henslee.

Hospitalizations in Sedgwick County are slightly increasing, as are cases. University of Kansas Health System Director of Infection Prevention and Control Dr. Dana Hawkinson said currently, the Alpha, or UK variant, is the dominant strain locally, but that could soon change.

“It looks like the Delta variant is becoming more and more prevalent, working its way to being more prevalent than Alpha, or UK variant,” Dr. Hawkinson said.

The vast majority of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Kansas are unvaccinated. Dr. Hawkinson said even as the virus evolves, the vaccines still prove to be effective in preventing severe illness.

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