(WOWT) – Below are today’s vaccination updates as well as data reports on new cases and other COVID-19 stats reported by health officials across Nebraska and western Iowa.
Keep scrolling to find helpful links and other information, including phone numbers to call for help getting signed up for your vaccine.
Hospitals, DHHS discuss omicron
Infectious disease doctors joined state medical officials for a discussion Wednesday afternoon on the COVID-19 omicron variant and how it is — and is expected to — affect hospitals across the state.
On the panel:
- Dr. Gary Anthone, chief medical officer and director of public health at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
- Dr. Matthew Donahue, acting state epidemiologist at DHHS
- Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, chief of infectious disease at CHI Health-Creighton University
- Dr. Angela Hewlett, infectious diseases specialist at Nebraska Medicine and medical director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit
Dr. Anthone gave an update on how much the COVID-19 numbers have changed in Nebraska in about a month’s time.
“What we see in Douglas County is what we see across the state,” he said. “…Most of the hospitalizations over the last two-week period have been mostly concentrated in the metropolitan areas — Douglas County and Lancaster County — but we’re also seeing an increase in what we call our ‘community’ and ‘critical-access’ hospitals.”
The numbers are getting back to levels we were at more than a year ago.
Hospitalizations in the state did reach a high of 637 briefly in December, but then there was a sharp decline to 446 on Dec. 26. On Wednesday, the DHHS respiratory illness dashboard was showing 649 COVID-19 patients, the most since Dec. 15, 2020.
There was also a spike in Nebraska’s positivity rate: 26.3% as of Jan. 9 is nearly the highest rate reported in the entirety of the pandemic — the state started the pandemic with a positivity reading of 27.1%.
Nebraska is also getting close to the 15% rolling seven-day average that triggers hospital procedure reductions. Dr. Anthone said the average of COVID-19 patients in Nebraska hospitals hit 13.6% this past week.
Ventilator use is also up, he said; 75 ICU patients across the state are on ventilators.
“Even with the increase of patients in the hospital we often see a lag in the number of patients on the ventilator and in the ICU, it usually takes about two to three weeks for that number to catch up to the patient being hospitalized,” Dr. Anthone said.
The possibility that those trends continue is what’s concerning medical officials. But he sees some hope: Hospitalizations and ICU numbers have been down some in the last week, he said.
But others on the call weren’t so optimistic.
Dr. Donahue cases are still on the rise across the country, increasing in the south and northeast.
“The U.S. has not seen COVID-19 transmission like this in the two years we’ve been at it,” he said, noting that most states are still breaking records in case counts, which can be a precursor to hospitalizations, especially in areas with inadequate vaccination rates.
In Nebraska, between 1-3 and 1-4 people are testing positive in recent days, but anyone who might be just thinking about testing is probably positive, he said, which is why it’s so important to wear masks and isolate.
Dr. Vivekanandan said that’s very likely if you know you’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive.
The numbers are worse than delta, Dr. Donahue said. At the peak of the delta variant in November 2020, Nebraska hit nearly 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. In December 2021, the peak was 637.
“We can be thankful that the variant that’s been thrown at us is less severe; but because it’s reaching so many more people, hospitalizations are continuing to increase,” he said. “Many states setting records for new cases now are also setting records for hospitalizations.”
But the increase in cases is no reason to doubt vaccines, Dr. Donahue said.
In December, fully vaccinated people were 11 times less likely — those with vaccine boosters were 46 times less likely — to be hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to those who are unvaccinated. That translates into about 3,200 hospitalizations and an estimated 700 deaths prevented in Nebraska just last month, he said.
“We know omicron is doing better than previous variants at evading some immunity, which is why there are more mild vaccine breakthroughs with omicron,” Dr. Donahue said. “However, we certainly haven’t seen any drop in vaccine effectiveness yet, not for preventing severe outcomes like hospitalizations or death — and that’s exactly what we need a vaccine to continue doing, and that’s exactly what it is continuing to do.”
Dr. Hewlett agreed, noting that of the 120 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Nebraska Medicine facilities, most requiring ICU-level care are unvaccinated. And the medications that worked for delta don’t work for omicron, she said, and all Nebraska hospitals have small supplies of the ones that do.
Omicron is also affecting hospital staffing levels — they’re not immune. Nebraska Medicine is experiencing “an unprecedented number of healthcare workers who are out sick right now,” she said. “…We have a very difficult time staffing our clinical services, so even things like clinics, outpatient situations — not even just for hospitalized patients — that becomes even more difficult when we’re seeing this large number of cases in our community and it carries over to our healthcare workers as well.”
Dr. Hewlett said she wished people would stop using the term “flurona” because “coinfection with respiratory viruses has actually been well known for a long time,” and there were cross-infections that happened with previous variants as well. But there haven’t been any proven cases of double-variant infection in a single patient, she said. One variant generally pushes the other out of the way.
What she has seen, she said, was that one variant doesn’t necessarily give you immunity against the other, even if they are essentially the same virus. There have been cases of patients with delta contracting omicron within a month or two, she said.
“People that had some immunity from delta — it’s not necessarily protective against omicron,” Dr. Hewlett said.
Dr. Vivekanandan stressed the importance of wearing masks right now — N95s or KN95s if you can get them, and double-masking if you can’t. Dr. Hewlett said Omaha’s mask mandate was welcome news and that Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse is doing the right thing.
Watch Wednesday’s livestream
Pottawattamie County data snapshot
Iowa Department of Public Health updated its county-by-county data on Wednesday, showing another big jump in positivity among an increasing number of tests.
DEATHS: IDPH reported three COVID-19 deaths in Pottawattamie County in the past week, bringing the death toll to 258. The state’s COVID-19 death toll increased by 182 to 8,201.
CASES: Test numbers in Pottawattamie County nearly doubled again in the past week, sparking another jump in positivity. As of data collected through Tuesday, the county had a 31% positivity rate for the week after 1,028 positive tests were confirmed in the last seven days. That’s up from 22% last week and 14% two weeks ago. The ratio equates to 23,015 positive tests per 100,000 people, according to IDPH data. By comparison, the state’s seven-day positivity rate increased from 18% to 23.8%.
HOSPITALIZATIONS: There were 41 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals this week, one fewer than last week. Of those patients, nine were fully vaccinated: three in their 50s, one in their 60s; four in their 70s, and one age 80 or older.
Tuesday’s data also showed that patients ages 50 and older accounted for most of the county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations: of those 32 patients, 13 were in their 50s — 10 were unvaccinated; eight were in their 60s — all but one unvaccinated; seven were in their 70s, four of them vaccinated; and four were ages 80 and older — three unvaccinated.
Of those COVID-19 patients, 15 were in county ICUs.
HOSPITAL CAPACITY: IDPH continued to report high hospital capacity for the county, but less so than last week. As of Tuesday, there were 10.7% of hospital beds available, up from 8.3% last week and 3.7% two weeks ago. In total, there were 18 in-patient beds available — four more than last week; and six ICU beds available, up from just one reported available last week.
Region 4, which includes Pottawattamie and nine surrounding counties, has 39.2% of beds available, up from 30.8% reported a week ago; that amounts to 142 hospital beds and 17 ICU beds, up from 112 hospital beds and eight ICU beds available a week earlier.
VACCINATIONS: The county was reporting a 53.2% vaccination rate among those ages 5 and older, according to IDPH data, compared to a 60.2% vaccination rate for the same age group in all of Iowa. That amounts to 49.9% of the county’s total population, compared to the 56.4% vaccination rate for the state.
Douglas County update
DEATHS: The Douglas County Health Department on Wednesday reported two COVID-19 deaths: two men ages 75-85 have died.
“Neither of these individuals was vaccinated,” the DCHD report states.
These most recent deaths bring the local COVID-19 death toll to 954 people, according to the health department.
CASES: DCHD said Tuesday that 1,266 more people tested positive since Tuesday’s report, bringing the community total to 116,636 cases.
The health department has now reported more than 1,100 cases for a week, with the latest confirmed cases again pushing the seven-day average to a record for the pandemic: 1,263 cases, up from 1,221 on Tuesday.
HOSPITAL CAPACITY: Local hospital capacity fluctuates according to staffing levels. As of Tuesday afternoon, local hospitals were 89% full, with 159 beds available, down from 174 the day before; and ICUs were 94% full with 17 beds available, down from 22 reported a day earlier. Pediatric ICUs were 83% full, with 23 beds available — two more than were available a day earlier.
HOSPITALIZATIONS: As of Tuesday afternoon, local hospitals were caring for 395 COVID-19 patients — 14 of them in pediatric care. That’s 25 more patients, including two additional pediatric patients. In local ICUs, there were 99 adult patients, up from 91 a day earlier; 49 were on ventilators.
Additionally, 10 adult patients were awaiting COVID-19 test results.
Bryan Health update
Bryan Health, based in Lincoln, reported Wednesday that its hospitals across Nebraska were caring for 80 COVID-19 patients, down seven from a day earlier. Bryan is also treating one pediatric COVID-19 patient.
Bryan officials also reported that 23% of its 47 ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Of those patients, 11 were on ventilators, up from 10 on Tuesday.
Additionally, Bryan hospitals are caring for 11 patients with pending COVID-19 tests.
Federal Retail Pharmacy Program: Pharmacies in and near the Omaha-metro area currently participating in the program include:
- Medicine Man Pharmacy, 15615 Pacific St. Suite 8, Omaha NE 668118
- ViaRx, 825 N. 90th St., Omaha NE 68114
- Walmart, 3010 E. 23rd St., Fremont NE 68025
Below is a list of the Douglas County COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled for this week, including child vaccination clinics at area schools. All clinics are open to the public for any approved shot in the vaccination series as indicated below. Those planning to get a booster shot should bring their vaccination card.
- 9 a.m.-noon at Metropolitan Community College’s South Omaha Campus, located at 2801 Edward Babe Gomez Ave. A – Pfizer for ages 12+
- 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 5544 Ames Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+ and Moderna
- 1-4 p.m. at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha Campus, located at 5300 N. 30 St. Head for Building No. 23 near 32nd Street and Sorensen Parkway; parking in Lot A. – Pfizer for ages 12+
- 4-7 p.m. at Benson High Magnet School, located at 5120 Maple St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
- 4-7 p.m. at Omaha South Magnet School, located at 4519 S. 24th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
FRIDAY JAN. 14
- 9 a.m.-3 p.m at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
TUESDAY JAN. 18
- Noon-4 p.m at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
DCHD is helping those homebound to get vaccinated, scheduling in-home appointments for all three adult vaccination varieties, for any shot in the series.
To arrange this, call the DCHD information helpline at 402-444-3400.
OneWorld child vaccination clinics
OneWorld is offering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations, for children ages 5-11, at the following clinics:
- Livestock Building, located at 4920 S. 30th St. in south Omaha
- In Bellevue, at 2207 Georgia Ave.
- In northwest Omaha at 4229 N. 90th St.
- In Plattsmouth at 122 S. Sixth St.
OneWorld will also offer children’s COVID-19 vaccinations at school health centers:
- Bryan High School, located at 4700 Giles Road
- Indian Hill Elementary, located at 3121 U St.
- Liberty Elementary, located at 2021 St. Mary’s Ave.
- Spring Lake Elementary, located at 4215 S. 20th St.
Walk-ins are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis; or you can call 402-734-4110 to make an appointment.
Children’s Hospital is planning to offer dedicated COVID-19 vaccination clinics for about a month, starting by Thursday, Nov. 11 — or sooner, if they are supplied the doses before that.
- 5-7 p.m. Thursdays at West Village Pointe and Spring Valley offices
- 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays at West Village Pointe and Spring Valley offices
After Saturday, Dec. 11, pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations will be available by appointment at any Children’s Hospital location.
- Tuesday and Thursday appointments available at the Mission Village location, 16909 Q St. Call 402-955-7575 or 402-955-SHOT (7468) for available times.
- Thursday and Friday appointments available at the Dundee location, 4825 Dodge St. Call 402-955-7676 or 402-955-SHOT (7468) for available times.
Nebraska Medicine is offering COVID-19 vaccinations at clinics in several retail pharmacies and health centers around the Omaha-metro.
NebMed will provide Pfizer vaccinations by appointment at:
- Eagle Run Health Center, located at 132nd Street and West Maple Road
- Fontenelle Health Center, located at 50th Street and Ames Avenue
- Girls Inc. Health Center, located at 45th Street and West Maple Road
- Old Market Health Center, located at 13th and Leavenworth streets
- Village Pointe Health Center, located at 175th and Burke streets
For those looking for walk-in appointments, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccinations will be available at these pharmacies:
- Outpatient Pharmacy at Bellevue Health Center, located at 25th Street and Highway 370, will offer J&J vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
- Outpatient Pharmacy at Durham Outpatient Center, located at 45th and Emile streets, will offer J&J vaccinations from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekends.
SOUTH OMAHA: Testing and vaccinations are available at OneWorld, located at 4920 S. 30th St. Call 402-734-4110 to make an appointment for vaccinating anyone age 12 and older.
CHARLES DREW HEALTH CENTER: Call 402-451-3553 to schedule an appointment.
CHURCH CLINIC: Metropolitan Community Chuch of Omaha will host a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. No ID is required, but a parent or guardian must be present at the clinic with teens ages 12-18.
MCC FORT OMAHA: Vaccinations also will be distributed Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus, located at 5300 N. 30th St. Appointments will be made through the county’s vaccination registry.
TOTAL WELLNESS: DCHD has been working with Total Wellness, located at 9320 H Court, to establish a vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
VETERANS: Any eligible veterans can obtain COVID-19 vaccinations or boosters at the Omaha VA Medical Center’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics’ walk-in hours from 8 a.m.-2:45 p.m. weekdays. Appointments can also be scheduled online.
Sarpy/Cass health district
The Sarpy/Cass Health Department offers COVID-19 vaccinations at its offices, located at 701 Olson Drive in Papillion:
- Tuesdays: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Wednesdays: 1-6 p.m.
The health department offers the first and second doses of Pfizer and Modern vaccines, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single doses, and booster doses of all three vaccines.
Sarpy/Cass vaccination clinics
The Sarpy/Cass Health Department has scheduled vaccination clinics for all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including pediatric dose.
Appointments are recommended but not required. For scheduling assistance, call 833-998-2275 or 531-249-1873.
Three Rivers health district
Three Rivers Public Health Department is giving out boosters to those in certain risk categories who have had Pfizer vaccinations. It is also working with area businesses and schools to provide plan more COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Three regular pediatric vaccination clinics have been set up for children ages 5-11:
- Wahoo: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month at 1320 E. 31st St.
- Fremont: 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and noon-3:30 p.m. Fridays at 2400 N. Lincoln Ave.
The health department has the necessary forms posted on their website, for minors and adults, for those who would like to fill them out ahead of their visit.
3RPHD’s regular clinics will continue:
- In Dodge County, the Three Rivers clinic at 2400 N. Lincoln Ave. in Fremont, is open for walk-ins from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; and noon to 3:30 p.m. Friday.
- In Saunders County, the Three Rivers clinic in Lake Wanahoo, located at 1320 E. 31st St., is open to walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month.
Those who are home-bound or require special accommodations but need a COVID-19 test or vaccine can contact the health district at 402-704-2245 to make arrangements.
CHI HEALTH VACCINE INFORMATION: The info line is available at 402-717-1255 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily in August.
NEBRASKA VACCINE HOTLINE: Nebraskans can call 531-249-1873 or toll-free at 833-998-2275 for more information on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination process.
DOUGLAS COUNTY HELPLINE: Local COVID-19 information, in Spanish and English, is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, except for holidays. Call 402-444-3400 for assistance.
IOWA VACCINE HOTLINE: Older or home-bound Iowans looking for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment can call 1-866-468-7887 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; or contact Connections Area Agency on Aging at 712-328-2540 or 1-800-432-9209.
Where to get a test: Douglas County
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COVID-19 risk dials: Lincoln-Lancaster County
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