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Nebraska hospitals see slight uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 8:21 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Nebraska hospitals are seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 patients. COVID units that were down in the single digits are once again reaching capacity. Statewide, COVID-19 Hospitalizations are at 97. It’s nowhere near the peak of COVID cases, but compared to a month ago it’s more than double.

On June 16 there were just 42 hospitalizations. Health officials said people getting sick now are, by and large, unvaccinated. It’s a number heading in the wrong direction.

“Ninety percent-plus of patients coming into the hospitals are people have chosen to be unvaccinated,” said Dr. Mark Rupp, Professor and Chief of Infectious Diseases, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “It’s a real tragedy and so people who are getting hospitalized, and unfortunately losing their lives, are largely a preventable, avoidable sort of problem.”

UNMC just filled their largest COVID unit that normally holds around 25 people. Statewide hospitalizations are increasing and patients are younger than before.

“I want to make it clear to those of you who are on the fence about this,” said Dr. Cary Ward, Chief Medical Officer at CHI Health. “We are seeing people in their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s who were healthy people prior to this, that are seriously ill such that they require hospitalization because of this disease.”

Hospitalizations for COVID have more than doubled at CHI Health Hospitals across the state from their low point in mid-June and are nearly five times greater at Bryan than they were just over a month ago.

Compared to Nebraska’s peak, these numbers are relatively small. Health officials said it’s manageable now, but if things don’t change we could soon run into another capacity surge.

“You’ve heard stories,” said Dr. Ward. “People in the hospital on the ventilator, profoundly short of breath, can barely get enough air. It’s too late at that point.”

Rural communities, where vaccination rates lag behind, are particularly vulnerable. Another thing to consider, these hospitals have resumed doing things like elective procedures, which takes staff away from COVID units.

CHI Health said they are close to requiring employees to be vaccinated and are hoping to be part of a larger movement of state hospitals requiring the shot.

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