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Douglas County may refuse federal vaccine allocation next week, health director says

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 4:09 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Douglas County may refuse its allotment of COVID-19 vaccinations next week, the health director told county commissioners on Tuesday morning.

Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County’s health director, said the county accepted 25,060 COVID-19 vaccination doses this week: 21,060 Pfizer and 4,000 Moderna doses — one of the only Nebraska counties to accept such a large dose.

“We decided to accept them because we have so many vaccination events planned,” she said, noting the high school vaccination clinics happening at several high schools in the area in coming weeks start Tuesday. DCHD is partnering with Sarpy/Cass Health Department next week on more such clinics.

But that decision may change next week, she said. Many health departments — including Lincoln/Lancaster County — did not accept any new vaccine doses this week, she said.

Dr. Pour also noted in her report that there had been eight COVID-19 deaths in Douglas County so far in April, and that none of them were fully vaccinated. She said three were in their 40s, two were in their 50s, and three were elderly.

In reporting on the demographics of COVID-19 vaccinations among residents, Dr. Pour said that almost a third of the county’s eligible teenagers — ages 16-19 — have had at least one dose. She also noted that Blacks were among the lowest percentages of those getting COVID-19 vaccinations last week.

Meanwhile, positive cases are trending down again, she said. The county confirmed 946 cases last week — a 20% decrease in cases from the previous week. There is also less testing being done: About 194 fewer tests were conducted last week than the week prior, she said.

Among these positive cases, 66% were younger than 40 years old: 25% were age 19 and younger; 21% were ages 20-29; 20% were ages 30-39.

Dr. Pour said that previously, younger people weren’t testing as much because they were often asymptomatic and such cases would go undetected. But variant cases among younger people are more symptomatic, she said, so they go and get tested.

The rolling seven-day average is 18 per 100,000 people. Dr. Pour reiterated again that the health department is trying to get that number below 10. The local test-over-test positivity rate did fall to 6.3%, but is still higher than the state’s, which is 4.8%.

Hospitalizations are down from recent levels but up compared to last year: 83 were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday night, compared to 117 last week — but in April 2020, 48 were hospitalized. Of those currently hospitalized, 19% are on ventilators.

“We still have a ways to go,” Dr. Pour said.

The county is doing what it can to make COVID-19 vaccinations accessible, including making all clinics available for walk-in appointments and working to shift clinic schedules to accommodate after-work walk-ins. She said DCHD is still seeing about 300-400 walk-ins every day — generally in late afternoon — at the clinic located at 35 & L streets.

To date, 241,000 — or 56.5% — of Douglas County residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

The highest population demographic increase in vaccinations (at least one dose) was Asians, now at 54.8%; followed by Hispanics, at 44.6%. Among the white population, 53.8% have had at least one dose, but only 34% of the Black population has — the lowest percentage after Native Americans.

Breaking down the number by ages, the higher the age the more have received one dose, but the highest increase is among ages 16-19, a 3.8% increase.

“Hopefully, we’ll see an even bigger increase,” she said.

Douglas County is still behind Lancaster County in terms of percentage of population that is fully vaccinated.

DCHD outreach continues, she said. Many businesses, however, are turning down clinics because many of the employees have already been vaccinated.

Watch Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting

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