TOPEKA (KSNT) – The explosive increase in U.S. coronavirus case counts is raising alarm.

The University of Kansas Health System held its first statewide conference to hear from 18 chief medical officers and infectious diseases doctors to discuss the COVID-19 crisis.

Doctors and hospital leaders from Hays to Kansas City appealed to Kansans to get vaccinated and wear a mask to stop the spread of the coronavirus and its variants.

The surge of hospitalizations is affecting all hospitals, according to the doctors, and affecting the care residents are able to receive.

Dr. Michael Davoren of Olathe West said the majority, 79%, of the Intensive Care Unit is unvaccinated.

Kansas City VA Medical Center’s Dr. Brian Barash said 19 patients were hospitalized and only one was fully vaccinated.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported on Monday, Jan. 3 that the state had 14,855 new cases, 43 new deaths, and 146 new hospitalizations since Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021.

“Vaccines are safe, they are available, we must wear masks,” Dr. Kevin Dishman said, “and we must do it now.”

As the super-contagious omicron variant rages across the U.S., new COVID-19 cases per day have more than tripled over the past two weeks, reaching a record-shattering average of 480,000.

The Shawnee County Health Department reported 88 new cases on Dec. 28, and 1,140 individuals in isolation. While isolation numbers continue to rise in the county hospitalizations have dipped slightly from 79 to 74 in the two weeks before Dec. 28.

Deaths have been stable over the past two weeks at an average of about 1,200 per day, well below the all-time high of 3,400 last January.

Public health experts suspect that those numbers, taken together, reflect the vaccine’s continued effectiveness at preventing serious illness, even against omicron, as well as the possibility that the variant does not make most people as sick as earlier versions.