UPDATE: Nebraska virus hospitalizations hit new high over weekend


LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Following the report of a high rate of coronavirus hospitalizations, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) released a statement to Nebraskans.

UNMC officials say “we are entering a dangerous period” and have become complacent in our fight against COVID-19. Also the medical center highlights that the pandemic is not a political issue, but a health issue.

Read the full press release below:

We are entering a dangerous period for our state in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest surge of cases and hospitalizations we have seen is currently upon us. We know how to beat this virus, but we’ve gotten complacent. COVID-19 has now killed nearly 500 Nebraskans, and many more are likely to die if we don’t take more action immediately. Nebraskans have a long history of helping our neighbors to work through the most difficult tragedies – floods, ice storms, tornadoes and droughts. We need to find that spirit of community now more than ever to overcome COVID-19.

We can’t emphasize this enough: COVID-19 ISN’T a political or ideological issue. Our advice is the same regardless of political leadership at any level:

· Wear a face covering in public

· Avoid large gatherings and close contact indoors

· Maintain at least six feet distance from others in public

· Practice good hand hygiene

· Stay home and call your doctor if you are ill

· Quarantine at home if you have close contact with someone with COVID-19

· Cooperate with public health in tracking exposures and illness

Our daily counts of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are now equal to our May peak and rising rapidly. However, we continue to relax social distancing measures and fully open schools, all while cooler weather begins to drive activities indoors and the annual flu season looms. To absorb the increasing load of patients, Nebraska is relying on hospitals that are currently more than 85% full, which is a very different scenario than in April and May, when hospitals were 50% full. It is a potential perfect storm.

Early in the pandemic, Nebraska took sensible and strong actions to mitigate COVID-19 spread, and we reaped the results of those actions by having one of the lowest fatality rates of any state. We built a solid structure of community protection, but like the game of Jenga, we steadily have removed block after block of that tower: lifting limitations of occupancy inside restaurants, opening bars, allowing large gatherings and opening schools at full student density. As the structure weakens, our case counts accelerate. Now, some communities are considering rolling back the use of face masks. Remove that block, and the entire structure may collapse.

We understand everyone has pandemic fatigue – we do, also. But we are hearing too many COVID patient stories that start with, “I went to a party” or “I visited extended family, but everyone seemed well.” You’ve seen it on your Facebook feeds – a dozen friends eating dinner in a small indoor space with no masks in sight. This is the perfect environment for COVID-19 to continue to spread, which threatens the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors and family members. We can’t let down our guard.

Finally, the COVID-19 response isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Many states and countries have shown it is possible to suppress spread without going into complete lock-down. We can strike an effective balance. Now is clearly not the time to relax restrictions, but by following the precautions mentioned above, we can weather the storm this fall and winter and still while supporting our economy and overall community well-being. Together, we can emerge in the spring to a vaccine and a clearer road back to normal.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The number of deaths linked to the coronavirus has topped 500 in Nebraska, and more people are hospitalized with the virus than ever before.

The state reported four new deaths and 404 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday to give Nebraska 501 deaths and 47,807 cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

The number of hospitalizations for the virus jumped to 249 on Saturday and remained at that level on Sunday. Previously, the number of people being treated in Nebraska hospitals peaked at 232 on May 27, according to the state’s online virus tracker.

But even with the high number of hospitalizations, Nebraska said 33% of the state’s intensive care beds and 78% of the ventilators remained available.

Last month, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts eliminated nearly all of the state’s social-distancing restrictions in favor of voluntary guidelines. Ricketts has said the hospital statistics show the state’s medical facilities have not been overwhelmed with virus cases.

Nebraska continues to report a high rate of virus cases. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 11.86% on Sept. 20 to 13.49% on Sunday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Categories: Coronavirus, Nebraska News