Kansas hospital runs out of ventilators as virus cases soar

January 9, 2022 GMT

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A hospital in eastern Kansas ran out of ventilators Friday as the state continued to report a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Lyons County Board declared a local emergency Friday after the Newman Regional Health hospital in Emporia ran short of ventilators. The Kansas City Star reports that the emergency declaration will help the hospital receive two additional ventilators from the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

Lyons County health officials reported 209 new virus cases Friday with most of those coming from the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus. They also said a total of 481 people in the county had active COVID-19 cases.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Kansas soared over the past two weeks from 1,109.29 new cases per day on Dec. 24 to 6,543.43 new cases per day on Friday.

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In the Kansas City area, officials at the University of Kansas Hospital said they were scrambling to deal with staff shortages as the number of COVID-19 patients they were treating increased to 153 Saturday, up from 108 on Monday.

The number of staff members at the hospital who are either out sick with the virus or awaiting test results hit roughly 900 Friday. Just a few days earlier, about 500 of the hospital’s more than 13,000-person staff were out on Jan. 3.

“We’ve never even been close to this amount throughout the pandemic… It’s just unbelievable,” said Gail Schuetz, assistant chief nursing officer at the hospital.

Staff members who don’t normally treat patients are being asked to help with care as long wait times are reported in the hospital’s emergency room. The hospital has also restricted surgeries to help conserve resources.