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Omicron surge overwhelming Nebraska hospitals

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:01 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Right now the state of Nebraska is averaging more than 2,300 cases daily last week. With one in every four tests coming back positive, local hospital and doctors said this Omicron-fueled surge is far from over.

Lancaster County is averaging 380 cases a day, that’s up nearly 200% from two weeks ago.

Omicron is more transmissible.

“It’s doubling time seems to be about two days or so, sort of exponential spread we’re seeing in the U.S.,” said Dr. Mark Rupp, UNMC.

The more this virus replicates, the more it weighs on Lincoln hospitals.

“Being able to accept patients from other facilities we typically will turn down maybe about 10% of those calls in a typical year,” said Ivan Mitchell, CEO at Great Plains Health. “Right now we’re turning away 30-35% of those calls.”

As the virus spreads, it reaches and infects our community, including health care workers providing critical services. Critical services like desperately-needed surgeries.

“We continue to suppress the operation room schedule so that we can ensure we have beds for those that critically need it,” said Josie Abboud, President and CEO of Methodist Health Systems. “We’re actually looking at class c surgeries now. Those are the surgeries that are more urgent, like a cancer surgery that needs to take place.”

There are 602 active COVID hospitalizations in our hospitals. In December, Lancaster County peaked at 637 before dropping back into the 400s.

“We are still dealing with car accidents, cancer, heart attacks. We have seen huge numbers of pediatric needs, which is unusually high this year in Nebraska and across the Midwest,” said Todd Consbruck, CEO at Avera St. Anthony’s. “What do you do when you can’t find a bed for the level of care we provide in O’Neill or Creighton?”

Making critical transfers to other hospitals with perhaps more expensive, nearly impossible, putting more Nebraskans at risk for serious COVID-19-related problems.

Another sore point is testing. Both doctors with UNMC that spoke with 10/11 NOW said testing is critical in slowing the spread of Omicron, and the lack of access to tests is creating problems.

They said if you think you may have it, it’s best act like you have it and stay home.

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