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Nebraska COVID-19 hospitalizations up 37% since Monday

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 157% since the start of October, according to Nebraska...
COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 157% since the start of October, according to Nebraska DHHS.(MGN / Bill Schammert / NE DHHS)
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 9:11 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - More Nebraskans are ending up hospitalized because of COVID-19, according to data released by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. As of Friday, October 30, there was a record of 584 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Nebraska.

The total has jumped 157 since Monday when the state was at 427 patients, or an increase of 37%. In fact, Nebraska set hospitalization records on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week.

DateNE COVID-19 HospitalizationsDaily Change
October 26427-8
October 27436+9
October 28483+47
October 29528+45
October 30584+46

Hospitalizations have more than doubled since the start of October, going from 227 to 584, or an increase of 157%. Major hospital systems have not expressed immediate concerns about capacity issues, but many said it’s possible if the trend continues.

Here’s a look at hospital capacity, according to DHHS, as of October 30:

Hospital Beds AvailableICU Beds AvailableVentilators Available
1,218 / 4,671 (26%)174 / 652 (27%)629 / 827 (76%)

10/11 NOW has also tracked daily average patient totals in both Lincoln and statewide since this summer. On July 10 and 11, Nebraska reached a pandemic-low of 95 COVID-19 patients. On August 20, Lincoln hospitals reached their low of 10 COVID-19 patients. As of October 30, both Lincoln and Nebraska are at record COVID-19 hospitalization levels.

MonthAvg Daily COVID-19 Patients (LNK)Avg Daily COVID-19 Patients (NE)
July17113
August18154
September41187
October60351

The biggest concern revolves around COVID-19 intersecting with the upcoming flu season.

Bryan Health told 10/11 NOW that its patient census typically peaks during the height of flu season, however, it’s currently averaging its highest daily patient census of 2020 in October, at 525 total inpatients per day. On Friday, that number was 543, including 63 COVID-19 patients. There are currently 76 total COVID-19 patients spread across Lincoln’s hospitals.

COVID-19 patients put an atypical strain on hospital resources, according to Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez.

“Several of these patients are in intensive care units, others are in progressive care units, a step down from intensive care, and more still are in the general census population of a hospital,” Director Lopez said. “But they all require an extra level of care that’s not necessarily seen, for example, in people recovering from surgery.”

On Friday, Bryan Health implemented Phase One of its surge plan, decreasing elective surgeries requiring an overnight length of stay by 10% for the week of November 2. According to a release, it said it’ll monitor certain metrics on a daily basis to determine when Phase One can be reversed or needs to be extended.

Last week, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced up to $40 million in CARES Act funding would be made available to various hospital systems in Nebraska to pay for medical needs and staffing. All were required to submit a plan to the state and will get the money before December 30.

CHI Health said this week that because of evolving treatments or even perhaps a change in the virus, people aren’t getting as sick. CEO Dr. Cliff Robertson said a fewer percentage of patients are ending up in the ICU or on ventilators, but he did echo concerns about overwhelmed and exhausted staff. He said they’re hiring traveling nurses to give employees time off to rest and recharge.

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