UPDATE: 5:20 PM
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases continues to decline sharply across Nebraska giving hospitals some relief. But hospital officials said Monday that their facilities remain busy with non-COVID-19 patients, and they are dealing with ongoing staff shortages and a backlog of procedures that were delayed during last month’s surge driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.
State healthcare leaders say it appears we're seeing the "beginning of the end" of the omicron surge.
Jeremy Nordquist, the president of the Nebraska Hospital Association says the current numbers are similar to what they were in December. In Douglas County, the health department also reported a decline in positive COVID-19 tests on Monday.
The state said 496 people were hospitalized with the virus in Nebraska on Sunday. That number has declined steadily since hitting a peak of 767 on Jan. 28 after climbing dramatically from the Dec. 25 low of 445.
However, hospitals still face big challenges.
"Because of the staffing challenges and backlog of procedures that we need to work through, some of our larger hospitals continue to have barriers in accepting transfers from other hospitals around the state. So, we have a long way to go still to work our way out of these challenges," said Nordquist.
He also said that positions for Registered Nurses, lab techs and respiratory therapists are among the most difficult to fill.
Watch the entire press conference below or on Facebook.
Jim Ulrich, CEO, York General
Mike Hansen, President and CEO, Columbus Community Hospital
Jeremy Nordquist, President, Nebraska Hospital Association