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Ricketts rescinds hospital restrictions as capacity improves

October 21, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska hospitals can resume lower-priority surgeries starting Friday after Gov. Pete Ricketts announced he’s ending the restrictions that have kept facilities from being overwhelmed with patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ricketts said the restrictions will end at 11:59 p.m. Thursday. They had originally been set to expire at the end of the month.

The order applied to inpatient Class D and E elective surgeries for all acute care, critical care and children’s hospitals in Nebraska. Class D and E surgeries are elective procedures, such as knee surgery, that can wait four weeks or longer without substantially changing a patient’s outcome.

Ricketts said he rescinded the restrictions because coronavirus hospitalizations in Nebraska have fallen below 10% of statewide hospital bed capacity, as measured by a seven-day rolling average.

He said the state will also stop providing daily updates on its online hospital capacity dashboard, opting for weekly updates instead. The dashboard will also no longer include demographic data and county-specific statistics, which will make it harder to track what’s happening in parts of the state.

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Ricketts imposed the order in late August to help hospitals with a glut of patients. Some of those patients were hospitalized because of the coronavirus, but most were in for other reasons.

Nebraska hospitals have 247 hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients and 2,126 occupied by non-virus patients, out of a total of 3,109 staffed beds, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.