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Douglas County not requesting COVID-19 vaccine doses this week

Dr. Pour, Mayor Stothert give update on local COVID-19 response.
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:29 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Days after becoming Nebraska’s most-vaccinated county, a Douglas County Health Department spokesman confirmed to 6 News on Monday morning that DCHD would not be requesting any COVID-19 vaccination doses this week.

This is the first time since COVID-19 vaccinations have been available that the county has opted not to receive additional doses. DCHD warned last week that they may not accept more doses if there wasn’t enough demand.

Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour reported in a news conference with Mayor Jean Stothert on Monday that the county had 20,000 doses in storage.

The county’s COVID-19 dashboard showed Monday morning that 43.3% of Douglas County residents are fully vaccinated; and that the local positivity rate is 18.5%. In the afternoon, Dr. Pour reported that the percentage of fully vaccinated Douglas County residents is now 46%.

Dr. Pour said that 93% of Douglas County residents ages 65 and older have received a COVID-19 vaccination — 85% are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Pour said Monday that while the county has seen the fewest number of deaths reported in a single month since last April, more recent COVID-19 deaths have been among those in their 40s-60s.

The U.K. variant — the most contagious of the COVID-19 variants — remains the one most reported in the county, she said with those ages 20-20 hit hardest. In the earlier days of the pandemic, younger people were more asymptomatic, she said, but the U.K. variant shows symptoms, prompting more young people to get tested for COVID-19.

Dr. Pour said she was also troubled by the 19% gap between whites and Blacks getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Local ZIP Codes with the highest percentage of vaccinated residents are in Elkhorn and Bennington, she said. ZIP Codes in south Omaha are among the lowest percentages, she said.

Dr. Pour acknowledged many are still hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccination and said her team is working to get information out — to communities and even businesses — to break down barriers for people.

“I would say to them: Ask your healthcare provider, and ask if what you are reading on social media is accurate,” she said. And for information about vaccinating teens ages 16-19, ask your pediatrician, Dr. Pour said.

Dr. Pour said that while she was pleasantly surprised that people in Douglas County, as opposed to rural areas, are eager to get vaccinated, she preferred that the Omaha mask ordinance remain in place for another month, but said the numbers would have to increase for the next three weeks for her to push for it to be continued.

The city’s ordinance is set to expire on May 25. Mayor Stothert said Monday that she isn’t sure the council would be able to get the six votes needed to pass an emergency ordinance at that time.

CARES Act funding

Mayor Stothert reported Monday that the latest round of CARES Act money coming to Omaha is $118 million, but said she doesn’t yet know what the spending guidelines are for the funds. This round will go directly to the city; previous rounds of local CARES Act funding went first to Douglas County.

The mayor did say that $22 million is already going toward rental and utility assistance, noting that the total needed to cover the 2,800 applications submitted so far is $7 million.

Stothert said she is also concerned about staffing counselors and lifeguards for the city’s summer activities. Unlike last year, city camps and pools are expected to open for the full season — if they can find enough staff.

Hotels are also struggling to staff up. While it’s good for the local economy that hotels were recently reporting 70% occupancy, Stothert said that industry was strained for workers like near every other business trying to get going again.

Events coming back to the city in coming months — like the College World Series, the Olympic Swim Trials, and the Senior Open — are great news for the economy, but are concerning for the community’s COVID-19 exposure. Dr. Pour said she worries in particular about the potential to introduce new variants to the local community.

Watch Monday’s news conference

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