The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Lawrence has started to reflect the recent record-breaking numbers of new cases.
As of Friday, LMH Health had 24 inpatients, according to the latest updates from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. Hospitalization generally lags five to 14 days after the onset of symptoms.
Douglas County’s new emergency mask mandate went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. It’s aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus disease as health care providers are struggling to keep up, with no end in sight.
The county had nearly 3,000 active COVID-19 cases as of Friday, according to LDCPH, with 804 new cases reported since Wednesday.
The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 tests hit a new high of 16.3% Friday, too, according to LDCPH. That number had previously peaked at about 12.3% back in November 2020.
The 14-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases reported each day to the local health department hit 142.14 on Friday. That is about a 73% increase over about 82 new cases per day, which prior to the past week was a longstanding pandemic record the county hit in November 2020.
Friday’s statistic represents a 180% increase over the same stat from the two weeks prior — Dec. 8 through Dec. 21 — of about 51 new cases reported each day.
LMH Health announced Dec. 9 that the hospital was opening a COVID-19 unit amid increasing numbers of cases. Prior to Friday, the total number of inpatients had most recently peaked at 18 on Dec. 10. The vast majority of COVID-19 inpatients at LMH — about 75% — have been people who were not fully vaccinated.
Rebecca Smith, spokesperson for LMH Health, said in a community update Wednesday that LMH is “working hard to ensure that we can be here when you need us.” But a significant number of team members have been unable to work because of COVID-19.
Omicron is quickly overtaking delta as the most prevalent variant in the state, according to Kansas Department of Health and Environment data.
KDHE determines variants by genetically sequencing a very small sample of all COVID-19 tests statewide. Out of 35 statewide COVID-19 samples that underwent genetic sequencing for the week of Jan. 2, 88.57% were the omicron variant and just 11.43% of the samples were delta. Testing had confirmed nine total cases of omicron in Douglas County as of Friday.
The delta variant of COVID was confirmed in Douglas County on June 28, 2021; omicron was confirmed in Douglas County on Dec. 17.