OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Thursday, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour held a press conference to talk about COVID-19 case trends, the Moderna vaccine and the continuing impact of the virus on the community.
In regards to vaccination distribution, the city and Douglas County Health Department said they’re planning on vaccinating medics and paramedics, who are involved in the transport of COVID-19 patients, as early as next week using the Moderna vaccine.
Pour said the mortality rate is about 0.9% and the average age of those who die from COVID-19-related issues is about 80. The average age rate differs for other demographics, however. In the African-American community, the average age is 74 and among Hispanics, the average age is 64, Pour said.
As to why those groups saw lower ages among those who died while infected with COVID-19, Pour said it could be related to seeking treatment after a longer time period.
When it comes to the safety of the vaccines, Pour pointed to the 94.5% effective rate for Moderna’s and the 95% effective rate of Pfizer’s. To put that in perspective, flu vaccines have an effective rate between 60-70%, said Pour. Also, those who may be infected with COVID-19 tend to have less adverse effects than those who weren’t vaccinated.
She said studies have shown that elderly people tend to have less adverse reaction to the vaccines than those who are middle-aged. As to why, Pour said that is still being studied.
Hospitalization rates, compared to one month ago, are drastically better. On Nov. 23, 445 people were hospitalized due to coronavirus. As of Monday, there was a 34% decrease in hospitalized patients with 292 at area hospitals.
Pour and Stothert said it’s important to stay vigilant against the spread by masking up, washing your hands, getting tested, staying home if you feel sick, socially distancing and avoiding gathering in large groups.
Following Thanksgiving, the county didn’t see an expected surge, Pour said. She hopes that’s the case with upcoming Christmas celebrations.
While this year presented challenges in regards to Omaha's budget, Stothert said the city should finish the year out just fine thanks to hiring freezes, closing city libraries and pools and CARES Act funding provided by the state and county.
The city is projected to see a shortfall of about $75 million due to canceled events and people spending less money in the community. While next year’s budget is still a concern, Stothert said she’s hopeful following talks with College World Series organizers and those involved with the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.
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