Article updated at 6:21 p.m. Thursday:
Lawrence Memorial Hospital has opened a COVID-19 unit because of its recent uptick in COVID inpatients, the hospital said in a community update Thursday afternoon.
As of Thursday, the hospital had 16 COVID inpatients — 14 active and two recovering, according to the update from LMH Health spokesperson Rebecca Smith.
The county has seen an increase in its 14-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases. This Wednesday, that number was almost 31 new cases reported daily; just last Wednesday, Dec. 1, the number was 22.4.
The current 14-day average is the highest it’s been since mid-September.
There were 619 active COVID-19 cases in Douglas County, as of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health’s Wednesday update, with 120 new cases reported since Monday.
Lawrence Public Schools have reported 34 new confirmed COVID-19 cases between Wednesday, Dec. 1 and Wednesday, Dec. 8. The district reported nine additional new cases on Thursday.
The CDC is recommending that all adults (18 and older) get a COVID-19 vaccine booster at least six months after full vaccination. That recommendation could soon extend to younger people, too.
“We’re watching news related to today’s FDA announcement recommending a single Pfizer booster dose for 16 and 17 year olds who are at least six months out from their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine,” Smith wrote in Thursday’s update. “We’ll keep you apprised as details come together locally.”
The omicron variant is spreading worldwide, including in 23 states, but Kansas has not yet had any case reports, Smith wrote. Delta is still the main variant circulating in Kansas.
“The omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, and we don’t yet know how it will compare to delta in that respect,” she wrote.
“The CDC expects that people with omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated and/or asymptomatic. Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths with omicron, though breakthrough infections are likely to occur.”