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Nebraska hospital capacity stretched thin as cases rise

September 16, 2021 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Hospital capacity remains a concern as the number of virus cases continues to rise across Nebraska.

In Lincoln, Bryan Health officials said their two hospitals are operating “at the breaking point” with large numbers of COVID-19 patients putting stress on the system.

Dr. Jim Nora, Bryan’s medical director for infection prevention, said the hospital has been beyond its “comfortable capacity” for several weeks now. And those hospitals already curtailed elective surgeries weeks ago.

Hospital officials said the most severe cases they are seeing are among unvaccinated people. Only 10 of Bryan’s 71 COVID-19 patients were vaccinated and none of them were in the ICU or on ventilators.

Cases are up across the state and hospitalizations are growing. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said 415 people were hospitalized Wednesday with the virus. That’s more than 2.5 times higher than it was in early August when 158 people were hospitalized. In late June, 28 were hospitalized statewide.

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In the Omaha area alone, 195 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, and 89% of the area’s intensive care beds were occupied.

Nebraska said in its most-recent weekly update Wednesday that 5,643 virus cases had been reported over the previous week, up from 5,153 the week before. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 603.71 new cases per day on Aug. 31 to 763.86 new cases per day on Sept. 14.