Tuesday Sept. 21 COVID-19 update: Health director concerned about rise in deaths, hospital capacity
Also: Nebraska’s new data dashboard, Fremont’s new testing site, Douglas County reports another 240 cases
(WOWT) - Below are today’s vaccination updates as well as data reports on new cases and other COVID-19 stats reported by health officials across Nebraska and Iowa.
Keep scrolling to find helpful links and other information, including phone numbers to call for help getting signed up for your vaccine.
Nebraska launches interactive dashboard
As announced by Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday, the state has deployed its new hospital capacity dashboard.
As of noon Tuesday, the state’s COVID-19 page did not have a link for the dashboard, but you can find the link on the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services home page.
The new dashboard offers a comparison of adult and pediatric hospital data for the state, including interactive charts showing the daily progression of availability of beds — the lower the numbers on the chart, the fewer the hospital beds available.
It also contains interactive maps of the local health districts that show the breakdown of adult and pediatric beds for each area, as well as a comparative case rate heat map of the counties; hovering over each county shows the actual and 14-day average numbers of cases reported in each county in addition to vaccination data there.
The new dashboard also includes the same daily charts as the previous iteration, with the death toll, running case and testing totals, vaccination data, as well as interactive charts on positivity, hospitalizations, testing, and vaccination numbers. Like before, it also includes tabs with age, gender, and racial breakdowns of COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.
DHHS has also included an explanatory page that gives further details about the presented data.
DEATHS: The DHHS dashboard on Tuesday was reporting an additional 15 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,379.
CASES & TESTING: The state added 4,292 new cases since its update on Wednesday, Sept. 15, for a total of 260,199 cases statewide since the start of the pandemic. The new dashboard does not include any data about variant cases; last week, 277 new delta variant cases were reported, giving the state a total of 3,601 variant cases to date.
From Sept. 12-20, there were 63,011 new COVID-19 tests. Positives among the tests kept the state’s overall positivity at 9.0%, the same as reported from tests conducted Sept. 5-11.
HOSPITALIZATIONS: Currently, there are 448 active COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, an increase of 33 patients since Wednesday’s update.
VACCINATIONS: Another 17,283 Nebraskans were vaccinated in the last six days. The state’s dashboard on Tuesday was reporting a 66% vaccination rate for the state — a big jump from last week’s percentage: of 54.1% despite the total of vaccinations administered being nearly 2,500 fewer than reported the week prior.
VACCINE BREAKTHROUGH: The dashboard doesn’t include COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough data.
Three Rivers adds testing site
Three Rivers Public Health Department said Tuesday that the Fremont community will have access to a new temporary test site in upcoming days.
Thanks to a donation from First State Bank & Trust Co., members of the public will be able to get a COVID-19 test at 210 E. Military Ave. during the following timeframes:
- 8-11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22
- 3-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24
- 8-11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27
- 3-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1
The site will offer drive-through appointments, which can be scheduled online via the 3RPHD TotalWellness portal; or you can simply show up during the above hours.
The site will offer antigen and PCR tests, with results expected to be available within a few hours, the health district said in its release.
“We are very thankful for our hospital partnerships and our healthcare heroes and as we continue through the pandemic it became apparent that we needed additional COVID-19 testing, so we brought that back into Fremont,” said Terra Uhing, 3RPHD executive director.
Douglas County health director update
The county health director gave her weekly update to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday morning.
Dr. Maureen Boyle, Dist. 5 commissioner, urged continued pressure on Gov. Pete Ricketts about the need for the state’s COVID-19 dashboard to remain up, even if the threshold should again fall below the governor’s limits.
DEATHS: Dr. Lindsay Huse expressed concern at the number of COVID-19 deaths in the past week, saying the Douglas County Health Department had confirmed 15 COVID-19 deaths in the past week.
“Of those, 11 were not vaccinated; the ones that were vaccinated — the four that were vaccinated — were all individuals who had underlying conditions and/or were in higher age groups,” Dr. Huse said.
She said she gets to see each of the death certificates of those reported as COVID-19 deaths.
“I take each one of those very seriously, and it’s impactful to reach each of those,” she said. “Some of those deaths are certainly individuals who are in their 50s, early 60s, and did not have any pre-existing conditions.”
CASES: The health director also reported the county’s COVID-19 indicators had “essentially plateaued” the past few weeks at high rates of cases, noting in particular that cases had been increasing shown among those ages 20-39, and cases among those younger staying the same.
HOSPITALIZATIONS: The health director also pointed out a concerning number of hospitalizations, with capacity hovering in the mid- to upper-80% range. That can cause problems for patients needing care for any reason, not just COVID-19, she said.
Currently, 89% of ICU beds are occupied and that “is definitely concerning,” she said, but noted that pediatric ICUs are 60% occupied.
“The good news is that we are currently seeing RSV rates starting to go down, so that at least provides a little bit of breathing room. But we are seeing an uptick over the past few weeks in the number of hospitalizations for COVID for pediatrics,” said Dr. Huse, noting that a month or more ago, there were only one or two pediatric cases while recently, there have been as many as 11 pediatric COVID-19 patients.
VACCINATIONS: The county is reporting that 66.7% of Douglas County residents ages 12 and older are vaccinated; that translates to 56% of the entire county population.
Dr. Huse noted that vaccinations are still lagging in the local Black population, and said DCHD is prioritizing efforts to “get those numbers up,” working with north Omaha partners and community leaders.
The health department is also working hard to get COVID-19 vaccinations to ages 12-17, going into any schools as they’re allowed.
Meanwhile, DCHD is keeping an eye on the progress Pfizer is making in its COVID-19 vaccination for children so that the county is ready whenever that EUA comes, noting that it’s still going to take a while before the vaccine is available for distribution to those younger ages.
VACCINATION BREAKTHROUGHS: The week’s total hasn’t yet been updated, but the early estimate sits slightly higher than the previously reported rate of 0.54%: Early data suggests the rate is now closer to 0.77%.
“The rate remains low, and we’ll continue to track that,” Dr. Huse said Tuesday.
Douglas County cases update
The Douglas County Health Department on Tuesday reported an additional COVID-19 death: a woman in her 80s who was vaccinated has died, bringing the local death toll to 774.
DCHD also reported that 240 new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed since Tuesday, nudging the rolling seven-day average down slightly 186 cases. About a month ago, the average was 149 cases; two months ago it was at 35 cases. To date, the health department has reported 81,929 positive cases.
Hospitalizations fluctuate daily according to staffing. On Tuesday, DCHD reported that local hospitals were 84% full, with 216 beds available. Adult ICU beds were 89% occupied with 33 beds available. Local hospitals are caring for 198 COVID-19 patients, up from 185 on Monday. Tuesday’s total includes seven pediatric patients, up from six reported Monday.
Among current COVID-19 hospitalizations, 54 are in ICUs; 36 are still on ventilators. Five additional adult patients are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
Noting the nation’s total COVID-19 death toll had surpassed that of the 1918 flu pandemic, the Douglas County health director continued to urge residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
“We are all horrified by this number, but it is even more concerning that the pandemic is not over,” Dr. Lindsay Huse said in Tuesday’s release from the health department. “If you are not vaccinated, today is the best time to get the COVID-19 shot so we can move closer to a return to normal.”
Lincoln-Lancaster County update
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported a COVID-19 death on Tuesday: an unvaccinated man in his 20s died, bringing the local death toll to 282.
LLCHD also reported another 112 cases, bringing the local total to 37,959 cases to date.
Currently, 105 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, 24 of them are on ventilators.
Among the county’s population ages 16 and older, 73.1% are fully vaccinated, Tuesday’s LLCHD report states.
Iowa focuses on masks as coronavirus deaths rise
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - More than 18 months after Iowa’s first coronavirus case, the state finds itself in a protracted argument over the value of wearing masks, especially in schools.
Even as the COVID-19 death toll in Iowa tops 6,400 people, discussions have shifted away from vaccination efforts and more toward masks following a federal judge’s ruling temporarily blocking a state law banning mask mandates in schools. In the courts, the state has been seeking to have the mask mandate ban restored.
In school districts, officials have been holding often-heated meetings about whether to require masks. Efforts to question the value of masks in Iowa and elsewhere have left some health officials frustrated.
Federal Retail Pharmacy Program: Pharmacies in and near the Omaha-metro area currently participating in the program include:
- Medicine Man Pharmacy, 15615 Pacific St. Suite 8, Omaha NE 668118
- Think Aksarben Pharmacy LLC, 7100 W. Center Road, Omaha NE 68106
- ViaRx, 825 N. 90th St., Omaha NE 68114
- Walmart, 3010 E. 23rd St., Fremont NE 68025
Douglas County COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled at several local schools and events this week:
- 9 a.m.-Noon at Metro Community College Elkhorn Valley, located at 2801 Edward Babe Gomez Ave.
- 1-3 p.m. at Metro Community College South Express, located at 3002 S. 24th St.
- 9 a.m.-Noon at Metro Community College Fort Street (North) campus, located near 32nd and Sorensen at 5300 N. 30th St.
- 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Heart Ministry, located at 2222 Binney St.
- 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at UNO’s Criss Library, located at 6401 University Drive; visitors are asked to park in Lot E.
- 1-4 p.m. at Metro Community College South Omaha campus, located at 3002 S. 24th St.
- 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Fiserv/First Data, located at 7302 Pacific St.
- 4-7 pm. at Salem Baptist Church, located at 3131 Lake St.
- 9-11 a.m. at Metro Community College Applied Technology Center, located at 10407 State St.
- 1-4 p.m. at Metro Community College North Express campus, located at 2112 N. 30th St.
- 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st St.
- 8 a.m.-Noon at the Omaha Farmers Market, located at 1011 Jackson St.
- 9-11 a.m. at the Community Garden, located at 3118 N. 24th St.
- Noon-4 p.m. at the Community Unity Block Party, located at 4318 Fort St.
- 1-5 p.m. at the Omaha Rally for First Responders, happening at TD Ameritrade Park, located at 1200 Mike Fahey St.
Nebraska Medicine is offering COVID-19 vaccinations at clinics in several retail pharmacies and health centers around the Omaha-metro.
NebMed will provide Pfizer vaccinations by appointment at:
- Eagle Run Health Center, located at 132nd Street and West Maple Road
- Fontenelle Health Center, located at 50th Street and Ames Avenue
- Girls Inc. Health Center, located at 45th Street and West Maple Road
- Old Market Health Center, located at 13th and Leavenworth streets
- Village Pointe Health Center, located at 175th and Burke streets
For those looking for walk-in appointments, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccinations will be available at these pharmacies:
- Outpatient Pharmacy at Bellevue Health Center, located at 25th Street and Highway 370, will offer J&J vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
- Outpatient Pharmacy at Durham Outpatient Center, located at 45th and Emile streets, will offer J&J vaccinations from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekends.
- Tuesday and Thursday appointments available at the Mission Village location, 16909 Q St. Call 402-955-7575 or 402-955-SHOT (7468) for available times.
- Thursday and Friday appointments available at the Dundee location, 4825 Dodge St. Call 402-955-7676 or 402-955-SHOT (7468) for available times.
SOUTH OMAHA: Testing and vaccinations available at OneWorld, located at 4920 S. 30th St. Call 402-734-4110 to make an appointment for vaccinating anyone age 12 and older.
CHARLES DREW HEALTH CENTER: Call 402-451-3553 to schedule an appointment.
CHURCH CLINIC: Metropolitan Community Chuch of Omaha will host a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. No ID is required, but a parent or guardian must be present at the clinic with teens ages 12-18.
MCC FORT OMAHA: Vaccinations also will be distributed Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus, located at 5300 N. 30th St. Appointments will be made through the county’s vaccination registry.
TOTAL WELLNESS: DCHD has been working with Total Wellness, located at 9320 H Court, to establish a vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
VETERANS: Any eligible veterans can go to the Omaha VA Medical Center’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics’ walk-in hours from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the new Ambulatory Care Center.
Three Rivers health district
- In Dodge County, the Three Rivers Fremont location is open for walk-ins from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday.
- In Saunders County, the Three Rivers clinic in Lake Wanahoo is open to walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month.
- In Washington County, the clinic at First Lutheran Church in Blair is open to walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
CHI HEALTH VACCINE INFORMATION: The info line is available at 402-717-1255 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily in August.
NEBRASKA VACCINE HOTLINE: Nebraskans can call 531-249-1873 or toll-free at 833-998-2275 for more information on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination process.
DOUGLAS COUNTY HELPLINE: Local COVID-19 information, in Spanish and English, is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, except for holidays. Call 402-444-3400 for assistance.
IOWA VACCINE HOTLINE: Older or home-bound Iowans looking for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment can call 1-866-468-7887 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; or contact Connections Area Agency on Aging at 712-328-2540 or 1-800-432-9209.
Where to get a test: Douglas County
Vaccine dashboard: Iowa
School info: Omaha Public Schools | Millard Public Schools | Bellevue Public Schools | Westside Community Schools | Gretna Public Schools | Elkhorn Public Schools | Council Bluffs Community Schools | Lincoln Public Schools | UNL | Midland University
COVID-19 risk dials: Lincoln-Lancaster County
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