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COVID cases in unvaccinated people, hospitalizations surging

Nebraska Medicine's COVID unit is at full capacity
Posted at 6:24 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 19:28:57-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to grow across the country and right here in the metro area.

The Douglas County Health Department reported 137 additional positive COVID-19 tests over the past weekend. Hospitalizations are rising just as fast as the delta variant continues to make its presence felt.

“It’s much more contagious than the virus that initially hit Omaha last month,” Infectious Disease Physician for Methodist Hospital Dr. Jessica Jones said. “There also seems to be data that if someone catches COVID-19 with the delta variant, they are two times more likely to require hospitalization.”

Almost all of these severe cases have one thing in common.

“Over 97% of hospital admissions from COVID-19 are unvaccinated individuals,” Co-Executive Director for the Global Center for Health Security at Nebraska Medicine Dr. James Lawler said.

Nebraska Medicine has announced that its COVID ward has reached full capacity for the first time in several months, and they are worried if things don’t slow down, they won’t be able to help everyone.

“Now that it’s full, we will have to start spilling over into additional wards, which obviously we did last fall during the peak of the pandemic,” Lawler said. “Even if we don’t get to the level of hospitalizations that we saw last fall, it’s going to be more than we can handle if we continue to grow at this pace.”

Not only are they worried they can’t keep up, but hospitals are worried about the medical workers who feel like they’re reliving last year all over again.

“It’s a nightmare to go through once, it’s another kind of worse nightmare to go through it and know that the key to prevention of having the same scenario replay out is literally an arm’s length away,” Division Chief for Pediatric Hospital and Medicine at Children’s Hospital Dr. Russell McCulloh said.

Now, it is the younger people who are currently being hit the most by the new variant.

“Some of these patients are 30 years old and 20 years old, and they were healthy before becoming ill,” Chief Medical Officer at CHI Health Dr. Cary Ward said. “The vast majority of them are unvaccinated.”

Teenagers that can get the vaccine are highly advised to do so before the school year begins.

“The severe illness right now is the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” McCulloh said. “I can’t overemphasize the importance of vaccination for kids who are able to get it returning to school.”

While the delta variant has made a big splash, medical experts continue to circle back to the real reason for the surge in cases and hospitalizations

“All of these hospitalizations and long-term consequences of those hospitalizations, and all of these fatalities we are seeing from COVID-19, are completely preventable if we can get everyone fully vaccinated,” Lawler said.

“It absolutely breaks our hearts to see someone become critically ill, on a ventilator in this day in age,” Ward said. “If they had the vaccine, if they had not been victims of misinformation, and if they had not listened to the wrong people giving them bad advice, they would’ve had the vaccine and wouldn’t have been hospitalized.”

Watch the entire Q & A with Ward below or on our Facebook page: