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Area doctors discuss rise in COVID-19 cases

Area health officials say while COVID cases are on the rise, the number of hospitalizations has yet to reflect the case numbers.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 1:25 PM CDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 2:38 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - According to area health systems, while COVID cases are on the rise across Lancaster County and the state, hospitalizations remain low.

Cases in Lancaster County have risen six consecutive weeks. The current Omicron subvariant, BA. 2, is the most prevalent and highly infectious.

CHI’s chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, said it’s too early to tell if there will be another surge in COVID hospitalizations.

“You always have like a week or two lagging time as people are getting more and more people are getting the infection,” Dr. Vivekanandan said. “Thankfully we’re not seeing a major increase in numbers at this time.”

Last week at Bryan Health, 71 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase from 55 patients from the previous week.

Bryan is caring for nine COVID-19 inpatients – six from Lancaster County and three from outside Lancaster County. There are no COVID-19 inpatients on ventilators.

The CHI health system in Nebraska and Iowa have 17 COVID patients hospitalized.

Overall, Bryan Health’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained under ten inpatients, which they said is pretty consistently, since mid-March.

Dr. Jim Nora, medical director of infection prevention, said the hospital system is now seeing an increase in other types of patients instead.

“It seems like there’s a lot of people who are being admitted that maybe didn’t seek care or weren’t able to seek care during the height of the COVID pandemic earlier,” Dr. Nora said. “It does seem like we’re catching up on a couple years worth of cases.”

To keep hospitalizations low, Dr. Nora encouraged individuals to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine helps to reduce the chance of infections, as well as lessening the severity of infections, if caught.

Bryan Health is currently paying attention to the epidemic of monkeypox. Dr. Nora said that it is unlikely that this epidemic will turn into the next COVID-19.

Dr. Nora said due to a two-week incubation time, monkeypox is a lot easier to track than most of the current COVID-19 variants. Likewise, there is a lot less pre-symptomatic spread of monkeypox.

“So, from the perspective of the general public, I don’t think there’s any reason for undue alarm right now,” said Dr. Nora. “I do think from a public health standpoint, it is important to keep a very close eye on this, and it’s important for clinicians across the state and across the nation to be on the lookout for cases that would meet the case definition of this.”

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