Testing confirmed emergence in Kansas of more than 10,000 cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and documented 25 instances of the Omicron mutation, while public health reports showed more than 1,000 hospitalizations and 250 fatalities linked to the virus so far in December.

Medical professionals in Kansas attributed the rise in hospital patients to the Delta version of COVID-19. In Kansas, an Omicron spike in hospitalization could arrive in January.

“I, like everyone else, was hoping that the Delta was the worst we were going to see and then we were going to get past that and we could move on to more normal,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “I think Omicron has taken everybody a bit by surprise — the fact that it is so transmittable.”

She said growth in COVID-10 hospitalizations placed stress on health facilities expected to care for the typical caseload of patients and those requiring post-release rehabilitation services. The compounding burnout is prompting resignations and retirements among health workers, she said.

On Monday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 512,461 infections, 16,846 hospitalizations and 6,964 deaths attributed to coronavirus since March 2020. So far in December, KDHE confirmed 42,694 cases, 1,064 hospitalizations and 259 fatalities.

In terms of vaccinations among Kansans 12 years of age or older, the state health agency said 66% were fully vaccinated as of Dec. 17. The highest rates of vaccination among the state’s 105 counties: Geary, 81%; Johnson, 80%; Graham, 79%; Jackson, 70% and Brown, 67%. The lowest rates of vaccination by county: Neosho, 30%; Elk, 37%; Linn, 38%; Sheridan and Riley, both 40%.

The lowest infection rates among Kansas counties per 100,000 population: Stevens, 10 per 100,000; Gray, 12; Stanton, 14; Hamilton, 17; and Ottawa, 20. Highest infection rates by county: Wabaunsee, 161 per 100,000; Harper, 155; Woodson and Chautauqua, 132; and Allen, 125.

Physician Chris Brown, a hospitalist at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, said people should pay attention to symptoms of COVID-19 and seek medical assistance before the virus had time to cause serious illness. Common symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of smell or taste, sore throat, congestion, nausea and diarrhea.

Last week, KUHS was treating 64 people with the active COVID-19 virus. Only three of those patients had received a vaccination for coronavirus.

“Listen to evidence-based medicine,” Brown said. “Get vaccinated. Get your booster.”

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