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COVID-19 hospitalizations rise as Nebraska sees increase in cases

COVID-19 hospitalizations rise as Nebraska sees increase in cases

More people are being hospitalized with COVID-19 as cases rise in Nebraska.

Hospitalizations jumped to 150 statewide as of Thursday after sitting at 103 as recently as last Saturday. In the Omaha metro area, the number of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals rose to 106, up from 72 last weekend.

Both Omaha and Nebraska hadn’t seen that many COVID-19 hospitalizations since about June 17.

That lines up with case trends and the progression of a COVID-19 infection. Omaha and Nebraska last saw daily case numbers that high back in late May and early June, resulting in higher hospitalizations a few weeks after that as the conditions of people with COVID-19 worsened.

Last week, health experts warned that Nebraska’s daily count of positive cases had turned higher and would lead to higher hospitalizations within weeks.

The Nebraska Medical Center has reopened a second COVID-19 unit after a period in which the medical center’s hospitalizations dropped from its peak, said Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of the infectious diseases division at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Although the Nebraska Medical Center’s patient numbers are about two-thirds of that peak, Rupp said the hospital’s count has been rising.

The increase comes as the hospital takes in patients for all other medical problems. Rupp said the hospital’s capacity to take on another COVID-19 surge is “pretty limited.”

“We really don’t have much capacity to flex at this point,” he said, “and it’s kind of scary.”

Statewide, Nebraska had 1,417 hospital beds available as of Thursday, according to data from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. That represents an available capacity of 37%.

Nebraska hospitals have 262 intensive care beds available, also reflecting 37% availability, according to state figures.

In Lincoln, hospitals remain in a healthy position, Pat Lopez, director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, said Friday. A total of 19 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized there, and 55% of local ICU beds are available, Lopez said.

Friday, Lincoln city officials said pandemic indicators are staying flat or slightly improving. The city’s numbers still reflect a high risk of COVID-19 spread.

Lincoln is in its second week with an indoor mask mandate.

Lopez urged people to remain vigilant in wearing face coverings, keeping distance and washing their hands. “That will allow us to continue to progress in the right direction,” she said.

Friday, Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department, cited a positive trend in the Omaha area: The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators here has dropped to four.

That is the lowest total since Douglas County started reporting the figure publicly in early April.

“That is very good,” Pour said.

Pour said she’s hearing that hospitals are putting a patient on a ventilator only if there’s “no other possibility.”

Overall, metro area hospitals have 245 medical and surgical beds available, but that means 82% of those beds are occupied.

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