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Nebraska scales back COVID-19 data reporting as hospitals resume elective surgeries

The latest DHM expires at midnight.
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 9:32 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Thursday morning that elective surgeries could resume across Nebraska and that it would again roll back its COVID-19 data reporting.

According to a release from the governor’s office, Ricketts is rescinding the directed health measure that declared a hospital staffing emergency in August at midnight, allowing Class D and E elective surgeries to resume Friday.

The announcement also notes that the seven-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state has dropped below 10% of the hospital capacity, triggering the slowing of data reporting that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will provide on its dashboard.

According to the release, after Thursday’s data is reported to the dashboard, it won’t be updated again until Wednesday, Oct. 27, and will be updated weekly from that point forward — without demographic data and county-specific stats.

The state last removed its COVID-19 dashboard at the end of June, two days after Ricketts declared he was ending the pandemic state of emergency for Nebraska. About a month later, Nebraska Medicine reported its COVID-19 ICU ward was full for the first time in months.

In the weeks that followed, doctors and state senators urged the state to reconsider allowing public access to current COVID-19 data, but the state pushed back before eventually rolling out its hospital capacity dashboard in September, which also included more detailed COVID-19 data than its weekly list of data points had provided.

Around 10 a.m. Thursday morning, the hospital capacity dashboard was updated with data from Wednesday, indicating that 24% of adult hospital beds and 14% of adult ICU beds were available, while 20% of pediatric hospital beds and 23% pediatric ICU beds are available.

The state was also reporting 369 active hospitalizations as of Wednesday, compared to the most recent peak of 448 exactly a month earlier. The highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations DHHS has reported was 987 on Nov. 20.

By Thursday evening, all the COVID-19 demographics data was no longer visible on the dashboard.

Dashboard comparisons

When Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Thursday morning that he would end the DHM, allowing elective surgeries to resume, his office also stated that the state would remove COVID-19 demographics from the Nebraska hospital capacity dashboard. At that time, the dashboard was displaying data from Tuesday but was updated with Wednesday data later that morning. By Thursday evening, the demographics data tabs were no longer visible on the dashboard.

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