Nebraska Medicine COVID ICU fills for the first time in months

WOWT 6 News 10 p.m. Sunday newscast
Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 11:10 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Medicine’s COVID-19 ICU is full for the first time in months, prompting a warning from those on the ground.

“This Delta variant is really attacking those that are unvaccinated and is seeking people out and making people really sick.,” said Dr. Angela Hewlett, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Associate Professor, UNMC.

“Our largest COVID ICU has 25 beds, and we received notice on Friday that those 25 beds were filled with COVID patients,” said Dr. Hewlett, noting they were left shuffling around non-COVID-19 patients to make room for those infected.

“We were having to find other places for them to go, so we could open up additional COVID units,” Dr. Hewlett said.

The packed COVID-19 unit sparked pleas on social media from healthcare workers for everyone who’s eligible to get the COVID vaccine and for safety precautions to be taken seriously.

“Don’t gather in large groups, especially if you don’t know the vaccination status of those around you,” Dr. Hewlett said. “So things like groceries stores and things, I still recommend that people mask whether vaccinated or not.”

And as children too young to get the COVID vaccine are set to head back to school, there’s even more concern.

“As a parent and knowing what I know about the transmission of the virus in our community,” Dr. Hewlett said. “I’m actually very concerned about our school start coming up very soon.”

Dr. Hewlett recommending schools make masks a must.

“I believe and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others believe we should have masks in schools,” she said.

6 News heard the same message recently from Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

“We’re on this increased community transmission curve right now, so it really benefits schools to think long and hard about what those practices should be coming into the school year and thinking about using those that proved to work,” said Dr. Russell McCulloh, pediatric hospital medicine division chief for Children’s Hospital and UNMC.

Warning now is not the time to relax in schools or anywhere else, Dr. Hewlett said: “A couple of months ago, we did enjoy some time where we really had low caseloads in our community, but unfortunately that time is over.”

Dr. Hewlett told 6 News people who are fully vaccinated can safely gather indoors with children, but if there’s any question about whether people are vaccinated she said it’s best to get masks on.

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