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High COVID-19 case count in Douglas County along with flu and RSV creates hospital capacity concerns

735 positive COVID-19 tests received in the last day
COVID-19 ventilator
Posted at 11:43 AM, Dec 29, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Wednesday, the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) confirmed in an email that 735 new positive COVID-19 tests have been received since midnight the previous day. On Tuesday the county reported 502 new positive COVID-19 tests.

The health department received three new death certificates: a man in his 20s, who was vaccinated and two unvaccinated men, one in his 40s and one in his 70s.

READ MORE: Daily COVID cases in U.S. hit all-time high

3 News Now reached out to the health department for more details about this report, Phil Rooney, resource specialist with DCHD told us the high numbers are the result of more people getting tested and a lab sending in a bit of a backlog. He also emphasized that the number would still have been over 500 without those factors.

Rooney said that the deceased man in his 20s did have underlying conditions, but he also said that underlying conditions tend to be misunderstood and are not listed on death certificates as the cause of death; COVID-19 is still the cause of death. The health department doesn't fill out the death certificates, it only reports the numbers, he explained.

"It is too early in the history of this disease to say what ailments, that a person normally can live with, increase the risk of complications," said Rooney in an email. "I don't want people to think, 'They would have died anyway,' because that is not the case."

He also said that dismissing a person's death because they had an underlying condition is "incredibly cruel."

With increasing COVID-19 cases the health department is concerned about pressure on hospitals. The flu and RSV cases (more than 200 in the last week) are not helping hospital capacity, said Rooney.

The Omaha Metropolitan Health Care Coalition — which encompasses Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders, Dodge and Washington counties in Nebraska, plus hospitals in Council Bluffs and Missouri Valley, Iowa — releases updated COVID-19 case counts and hospital capacity report to the Douglas County Health Department on a near-daily basis.

The most recent local hospital report received by the health department on Tuesday afternoon:

  • Medical and surgical beds were at 86% occupancy with 164 staffed beds available.
  • Adult ICU beds were occupied at an 88% rate with 35 staffed beds available.
  • Forty-one individuals who were confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 were on ventilators.
  • There were 296 individuals hospitalized who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with 89 of them receiving adult ICU level care. 
  • Eight pediatric patients were confirmed among those hospitalized. 
  • Pediatric ICU beds were at 90% capacity with 13 beds available.
  • There were four additional COVID-19 persons of interest (generally waiting for test results) to report, with all of them adults.

The number of COVID-19-related deaths in Douglas County during the pandemic increases to 906. The total number of positive cases reported since March of 2020 is 102,063.

The health department will hold a COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Thursday in its offices at 1111 S. 41st St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All three of the COVID-19 vaccines will be offered.

Flu cases also continue to increase in Douglas County and across the nation, said DCHD in a statement.

The DCHD reported that 247 new lab-confirmed cases of seasonal influenza were received last week. That brings the season total to 539 cases, with most of them Type-A flu. No influenza-associated adult or pediatric deaths have been reported. In addition, DCHD received 201 positive RSV test results last week.

“The winter cold and flu season is here,” Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said. “I hope you will consider choosing to get a flu shot. If you feel sick, please stay home.”

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