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Douglas County Health Dept. officials provide COVID-19 update

Posted at 8:07 AM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 19:56:11-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Officials with the Douglas County Health Department spoke at the Douglas County Board of Health meeting Wednesday about COVID-19 in the community and vaccinations.

Douglas County Health Department Director Dr. Adi Pour said the biggest concern remains hospital capacity. She said 302 medical surge beds are available at 80 percent occupancy.

Fifty-two adult ICU beds are available at 83 percent occupancy.

A total of 435 COVID-19 patients are in area hospitals with 133 in ICU beds — the highest it’s ever been, according to Dr. Pour.

"What I want to share with you really is my biggest concern, and all of our concern at this point, is the concern of our hospital capacity. We know it has increased over the last two to three weeks. We have heard and we have seen that hospital capacity for COVID patients is now at an all time high," Dr. Pour said.

Dr. Pour also expressed her concern for the number of COVID patients on ventilators. Currently there are 52 COVID patients on ventilators, up from about 20 a few months ago.

"Medical health care providers have learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic, better treatment. They know how to handle these cases and to put a patient on a ventilator is really the last resource and what they are sharing with us is that any person on a ventilator has a 50% chance of not surviving. So to see that number increasing is of great concern to us," Dr. Pour said.

Dr. Pour urged that now is the time everyone should work to follow public health measures. She was hopeful that going into the holiday season residents can hunker down for a few more months until a vaccine is in supply.

She added that long-term care facilities are still the biggest category of COVID-19 clusters.

“With everyone you meet you need to think - this person could be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic,” said Dr. Pour.

Douglas County Health Department Division Chief Kerry Kernen also spoke, mentioning that vaccines will be supplied in phases with the first being distributed to direct healthcare workers and those who are high risk.

Being that the vaccines will be distributed outside of the United States as well, supply will be very limited.

"We are going to get very limited vaccines to start until they are really ramping up production in supply and demand. We are going to have to be very thoughtful when those vaccines come into the state of Nebraska and here in Douglas County and how this is going to be allocated by priority populations," Kernen said.

Kernen said distributing vaccines will take a lot of staffing and they will be looking for outside entities such as drive-thrus and pop-ups to meet the needs of the community.

She reminded residents that the vaccine will not be mandatory. However, for those receiving the vaccine a second dose will be required.

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