Hospital officials talk about potential for COVID-19 surge and testing in Lincoln

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 6:13 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - More than 20,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Nebraska, with the number of new cases each day slowly trending downward.

But health officials said the state isn't in the clear yet.

"But we haven't seen that stark decrease in positives during these warmer months, it's 91 degrees and we're still getting 45-50 new cases a day," Derek Vance, president of CHI Health St. Elizabeth said.

Nebraska isn’t like the rest of the U.S., which saw 60,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with Texas and Florida facing the biggest jumps in numbers.

“We’re not seeing that yet but we do anticipate that being a possibility,” Vance said.

Even if Nebraska doesn't see a surge, the state is still being impacted because a lot of the COVID-19 tests done by Bryan Health get sent to national labs to be processed."

Bob Ravenscroft, VP of Advancement for Bryan Health said those labs are inundated and it’s impacting how long it takes to get results back.

“We are really at mercy of national conditions,” Ravenscroft said. “We’ve been as low as two days on our turn around time now pushing into four-six days.”

Ravenscroft said they’re not struggling to get the test kits that get sent out to labs, but they can’t get the supplies needed to do more tests in house.

"It's kind of unpleasant that we can't figure out who is running the allocations for these items but we are working to get to the bottom of it," Ravenscroft said.

CHI Health does do all of their testing in house or at a local lab in Omaha so they're aren't facing the same problems.

They also run the Test Nebraska tests which use a different process which is also not impacted.

What is a challenge at Test Nebraska currently is getting enough test slots.

Looking at availability on Wednesday, only four cities had testing slots available this week. Four sites, including Lincoln had no test slots in the foreseeable future and 11 sites had testing slots open for next week.

Vance said this is due to the high demand and limited number of test sites.

Taylor Gage, representative for Governor Pete Ricketts said he believes there has been enough access to Test Nebraska but they are constantly working on opening more as they have the resources.

Overall, the governor's office said Test Nebraska has gone well.

Vance agrees.

"Lots and lots of testing has been done that wouldn't have happened and that's how we win this pandemic," Vance said.

Vance did say if you’re experiencing symptoms and can’t get a Test Nebraska time slot, there are other options like calling a personal care provider.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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