Omaha-area hospitals see another uptick in virus patients

May 26, 2020 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Omaha-area hospitals have reported another uptick in coronavirus patients but local health officials are still managing the caseload without any issues, the state’s top doctor said Tuesday.

Nebraska Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Anthone, said Douglas County’s hospitals are treating 135 patients, up from 122 last week. But Anthone said the increase hasn’t had much impact on the availability of hospital beds or ventilators.

“Everyone feels like they’re able to handle the situation,” he said at the governor’s news conference.

Among the new coronavirus patients is state Sen. Mike Moser, of Columbus, who is receiving care at Nebraska Medical Center. Gov. Pete Ricketts said Tuesday that he was “praying for (Moser) and his family as he goes through this recovery process.”

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Moser, 68, was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2018. The Columbus music store owner previously served as the city’s mayor from 2004-2016. In an April letter to his constituents, Moser said he supported the “tough, but necessary” decision to postpone the legislative session because of the pandemic.

Lawmakers suspended their session in late March but are expected to return July 20 to finish the remaining scheduled days.

Another state lawmaker, Sen. Tony Vargas, of Omaha, announced last month that his 72-year-old father had died in New York after contracting the virus.

Nebraska reported 221 new cases as of Sunday night, bringing the statewide total to 12,355. The largest number is in Omaha’s Douglas County, with 3,186 known cases. Among whose who tested positive for the coronavirus, 150 have died.

The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest that people can be infected without feeling sick.

Statewide, 46% of Nebraska’s hospital beds, 43% of intensive care unit beds and 77% of ventilators are available, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Those numbers drop in Douglas County. Anthone said 29% of hospital beds, 24% of intensive care unit beds and 59% of ventilators are available.

The numbers come as Ricketts prepares to further loosen Nebraska’s social-distancing restrictions in June, arguing that the state has kept the virus from overwhelming Nebraska’s hospitals.

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For some infected people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness or death. But for most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks.

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Check out more of the AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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