Tuesday Dec. 14 COVID-19 update: Vaccination, distancing, testing urged ahead of holiday gatherings

Douglas County Health Department reports 5 deaths, 3 of them vaccinated
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 9:35 AM CST
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(WOWT) - Below are today’s vaccination updates as well as data reports on new cases and other COVID-19 stats reported by health officials across Nebraska and western Iowa.

Keep scrolling to find helpful links and other information, including phone numbers to call for help getting signed up for your vaccine.

Huskers wrestling event canceled

The Huskers announced Tuesday that the wrestling team’s dual against South Dakota State has been canceled due to COVID-related illnesses within Nebraska’s program.

Douglas County update

The Douglas County Health Department on Tuesday reported five deaths: two men in their 70s, one of whom was vaccinated; and a man and two women older than age 80, two of whom were vaccinated. The local death toll now stands at 884.

DCHD also confirmed 453 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 97,621 to date. A year ago, the health department reported 490 cases and two deaths, bringing the local death toll to 401.

The latest case numbers caused the seven-day average to decline from 285 cases to 281. A week ago, the average was 326 cases; about a month ago, it was 222. It hasn’t been below 100 cases since Aug. 3.

Local hospital capacity stats are updated daily according to staffing levels. DCHD said that as of Monday afternoon, local hospitals were collectively 89% full with 152 beds available, as compared to 178 beds available a day earlier; with ICUs at 90% occupancy and 30 beds available, compared to 21 beds available a day prior. Meanwhile, pediatric ICUs were 87% full with 17 beds available as of Monday afternoon.

The number of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals continues to break records for the year. Among those under hospital care as of Monday afternoon were 350 COVID-19 patients, including seven in pediatrics — three more than reported a day earlier. A hundred of the COVID-19 patients in the county are in ICUs and 41 are on ventilators, the DCHD report states.

Additionally, seven adult patients and one pediatric patient are awaiting COVID-19 test results.

A week ago, local hospitals were caring for 293 COVID-19 patients; about a month ago, there were 186 COVID-19 patients. There haven’t been fewer than 100 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals since Aug. 9.

DCHD director update

During her weekly update to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday morning, Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse pleaded with the public to do what they can to mitigate COVID-19 spread during the holidays.

Noting the continued high hospital capacity rates, Dr. Huse stressed at multiple times during her report that the community and hospitals continue to be highly impacted by COVID-19.

“The stories are hair-raising,” she said, noting that staff at every level of staff involved in patient care are exhausted and “so overwhelmed” and resources are dwindling.

“There could come a time when our hospitals just can’t take anymore,” Dr. Huse said. That doesn’t mean care would be denied, she said, but care could be delayed as staff worked to find somewhere else for that patient to be.

The health director urged the public to consider this when making holiday plans.

“I just really want to encourage people to continue following those measures we know work,” she said.

At the top of the list is getting vaccinated, and there are more and more vaccination clinics happening locally, Dr. Huse said, directing attention to the vaccination portal on the DCHD website. While appointments are preferred, they’re not turning anyone away, she said.

“I also want to continue to encourage people to wear their masks when they’re in public spaces, as annoying and as uncomfortable as that can be. It really does make a difference for the people who are around you. It makes a difference for your family, for your friends. And it makes a difference for our healthcare in this community,” Dr. Huse said.

In addition to masking and vaccines, Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse suggested getting tested ahead of holiday gatherings or going remote.

She reinforced the point during Q&A with the commissioners, saying she recommends people wear masks for any indoor gatherings, meetings, performances, etc., regardless of their vaccination status or the size of the venue.

Dr. Huse also encouraged meeting virtually with family and friends this holiday season when possible, or to get tested ahead of gatherings to make sure no one is infected and keep an eye on the DCHD COVID-19 dashboard to monitor trends and plan effectively.

CASES: Dr. Huse reported Tuesday that COVID-19 transmission remains at high levels in Douglas County: the seven-day average is 342 cases per 100,000 people. That’s a significant increase in the last couple of months, she said, noting that in October, it was about half that level.

“We are certainly continuing to see a pretty serious number of cases in our community,” she said, and based on global trends, she doesn’t expect that trend to change anytime soon.

Positivity is at 12.5%, with the highest number of cases still in the Elkhorn corridor and across central Douglas County, she said.

Dr. Huse said two increasing cases in two local age groups are of particular concern: Cases among the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups have increased significantly in the past few weeks. These age groups are largely unvaccinated or overdue for their boosters, “so they have waning immunity,” she said.

The health director said that pediatric cases have been rising and falling depending on the week but noted this age group is only just beginning to get vaccinated.

OMICRON VARIANT: Dr. Huse confirmed Tuesday that testing to date had not confirmed any cases of the omicron variant yet in Douglas County and that the main strain affecting our area is still the delta variant.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s not here. It just means that of the people who have been tested and that we’ve gone on to sequence their results, it hasn’t been identified yet,” she said.

Meanwhile, Europe is “well on track to have omicron outpace delta in the next few weeks,” she said, noting that so far, only one death has been reported in the U.K. Monitoring trends in Europe helps the U.S. make preparations here as needed, she said.

But there are still lots of unanswered questions about omicron, she said.

“We still don’t know definitively if it’s more transmissible. We don’t know definitively if it makes people more sick or causes more hospitalizations. So we’ll keep paying attention, keep gathering as much data as possible, and keep the community updated on what really to expect,” Dr. Huse said.

Still, she said, research is showing that boosters are helping to mitigate omicron spread. Getting a booster is good at “re-upping that immunity,” she said.

HOSPITALIZATIONS: The steadily high hospital capacity numbers remain a concerning trend, Dr. Huse said Tuesday, noting that local hospitals spiked to mid-90% levels over the weekend.

Dr. Huse said the health department does not receive a breakdown of all ailments for which all patients are being treated but does know there’s been a huge jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks, while ventilator use has been steadily increasing.

Capacity continues to be “full to the extreme,” she said, but the data doesn’t tell the whole story.

Doctors and nurses are taking care of many more patients than they would normally, or are taking care of patients at care levels they’re not accustomed to, she said.

That doesn’t mean that all hospital systems are at a critical crisis stage, but “some are very close. ... Most are kind of teetering between ‘contingency’ and ‘crisis’ at this point; and, you know, it only takes a handful of admissions to put them over that ledge,” Dr. Huse said.

Hospitals are doing what they can to continue to provide care, she said, and “across the region, high capacity is kind of the norm right now.”

That’s already forcing some rationing of resources and careful triaging, making sure those most in need of care are getting it, she said. But it is possible to move to further rationing if hospitalizations continue rising as they have.

Another factor in hospital capacity issues is what Dr. Huse called “a throughput issue”: People come in and get care for a while, but in the cases where a patient might possibly receive better care in other sorts of extended health facilities, there is nowhere to send people, causing a bottleneck in patient care.

DEATHS: Dr. Huse reported there had been 11 COVID-19 deaths in the past week and said there were a handful of other death certificates that are still being processed.

BREAKTHROUGHS: While COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough rates have increased over the past couple of weeks, “that’s not necessarily a surprise because we know that the efficacy of the vaccine wears off over time and you need a booster,” Dr. Huse said.

But the vaccine breakthrough death rate has held steady at 0.01%, which means vaccination “is still doing a pretty good job of preventing severe illness and deaths,” she said, acknowledging that there have been some deaths.

VACCINATIONS: DCHD has been busy these past few weeks, Dr. Huse said, adding that staff are tired but energized by the numbers turning out to get vaccinated.

Currently, 62% of the Douglas County population is fully vaccinated — but it’s not enough.

“We’ve had some great growth here. We still have a lot of work to do though,” she said, noting that the vaccination rate most vaccines need for herd immunity is typically around 80%.

While working to increase vaccination numbers, the health department is also working to sustain the current level of vaccination in the community by encouraging boosters.

“It’s like trying to build up herd immunity where you’ve already built up herd immunity,” Dr. Huse said Tuesday, noting that about 35% of Douglas County residents ages 18 and older have had a third dose or a booster.

Still, the health department has been encouraged by the increasing vaccination rate among youth ages 5-11, with 15.5% of the age group now fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the map of local vaccinated populations remains the same as it has for a while, with the Elkhorn and Bennington corridor showing high vaccination rates — 71.4% are fully vaccinated — while other communities in the middle of the county as well as in north and south Omaha continue to struggle with lower vaccination rates. Dr. Huse did note that community partners in north and south Omaha in particular have been fantastic and invaluable to increasing vaccination efforts.

Watch Tuesday’s full update

Douglas County COVID-19 update

Lincoln-Lancaster update

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department on Tuesday reported 140 cases of COVID-19, for a total of 47,104 cases confirmed to date.

The death toll there stands at 340.

Lancaster County hospitals are caring for 125 COVID-19 patients, 18 of whom are on ventilators.

LLCHD also reported Tuesday that 65% of Lancaster County residents are fully vaccinated.

Vaccination clinics

Nebraska DHHS

Federal Retail Pharmacy Program: Pharmacies in and near the Omaha-metro area currently participating in the program include:

  • Medicine Man Pharmacy, 15615 Pacific St. Suite 8, Omaha NE 668118
  • ViaRx, 825 N. 90th St., Omaha NE 68114
  • Walmart, 3010 E. 23rd St., Fremont NE 68025

Retail pharmacy vaccine sign-ups: Baker’s | CVS | Hy-Vee | Kohll’s | Kubat | Sam’s Club | Walmart

Douglas County

Below is a list of the Douglas County COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled for this week, including child vaccination clinics at area schools. All clinics are open to the public for any approved shot in the vaccination series as indicated below. Those planning to get a booster shot should bring their vaccination card.

  • Noon-4 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 5-7 p.m. at Bancroft Elementary School, located at 2724 Riverview Blvd. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 5-7 p.m. at Miller Park Elementary School, 5625 N. 28th Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 5544 Ames Ave. – Moderna & Pfizer vaccines available.
  • 3-6 p.m. at Element Learning Center, located at 7230 Florence Blvd. The first 40 people to get a vaccine will receive a gift card to use at The Laundry Room. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 4-7 p.m. at St. Pius X/St. Leo Catholic School, 6905 Blondo St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Girls Inc., located at 2811 N. 45th St. – All vaccines available.
  • 5-7 p.m. at Beveridge Magnet Middle School, located at 1616 S. 120th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 5-7 p.m. at McMillan Magnet Middle School, located at Redick Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • Noon-4 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Heart Ministry Center, located at 2222 Binney St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Bryan Middle School, located at 8210 S. 42nd St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Benson High Magnet School, located at 5120 Maple St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Burke High School, located at 12200 Burke St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Omaha North High Magnet School, located at 4410 N. 36th St. – All vaccines available.
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Omaha South High Magnet School, located at 4519 S. 24th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 4-7 p.m. at Bennington High School, located at 16610 Bennington Road – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Morton Magnet Middle School, located at 12200 Burke St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • Noon-4 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Alfonza W. David Middle School, located at 8050 N. 129th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Norris Middle School, located at 2235 S. 46th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.

Today's #Covid19 Update is right here: douglascountyhealth.com/latest-news Douglas County Nebraska Nebraska Department...

Posted by Douglas County Health Department on Monday, December 13, 2021

In-home appointments

DCHD is helping those homebound to get vaccinated, scheduling in-home appointments for all three adult vaccination varieties, for any shot in the series.

To arrange this, call the DCHD information helpline at 402-444-3400.

DCHD booster plan

All Douglas County Health Department pop-up clinics will offer only Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccinations, but once Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters are authorized, the health department plans to have all three available at its in-house and drive-through clinics.

Booster shots are recommended for people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are:

  • ages 65 and older
  • anyone age 18 and older who lives in a long-term care setting
  • anyone age 18 and older who has underlying medical conditions
  • anyone age 18 and older who lives or works in a high-risk setting

The CDC is recommending booster doses be administered six months after receiving your second dose, and has authorized brand crossover for booster shots. Anyone with questions is advised to contact their healthcare provider for further guidance.

Boosters are also recommended for those who received the J&J vaccine at least two months ago, according to the health department.

Those with questions about boosters, particularly those with questions about underlying medical conditions or being in a high-risk setting, are advised to contact their healthcare providers or call the DCHD Information Line at 402-444-3400.

Underlying medical conditions that qualify for boosters include: cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic lung diseases like COPD, moderate to severe asthma, interstitial lung disease, damaged or scarred lung tissue, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, etc.; certain neurological conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.; diabetes; Down syndrome; certain heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, hypertension; HIV/AIDS or others in immunocompromised states; liver disease like cirrhosis, liver scarring, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, etc.; those who are overweight or obese; pregnant and recently pregnant people who are 42 or more days past the end of their pregnancy; certain hemoglobin disorders like sickle cell disease, thalassemia, etc.; current or former smokers; recipients of organ, blood stem cell, or bone marrow transplants; cerebrovascular disease like stroke, etc.; and substance use disorders including alcohol, opioid, cocaine use disorders, etc.

Those “high-risk” occupations qualifying for boosters include: first-responders such as healthcare workers, firefighters, police, and congregate care staff; education staff such as teachers, support staff, daycare workers; food and agricultural workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers; U.S. Postal workers; public transit workers; grocery store workers; and residents of homeless shelters or correctional facilities.

OneWorld child vaccination clinics

OneWorld is offering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations, for children ages 5-11, at the following clinics:

OneWorld will also offer children’s COVID-19 vaccinations at school health centers:

Walk-ins are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis; or you can call 402-734-4110 to make an appointment.

Children’s Hospital

Children’s Hospital is planning to offer dedicated COVID-19 vaccination clinics for about a month, starting by Thursday, Nov. 11 — or sooner, if they are supplied the doses before that.

  • 5-7 p.m. Thursdays at West Village Pointe and Spring Valley offices
  • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays at West Village Pointe and Spring Valley offices

After Saturday, Dec. 11, pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations will be available by appointment at any Children’s Hospital location.

  • Tuesday and Thursday appointments available at the Mission Village location, 16909 Q St. Call 402-955-7575 or 402-955-SHOT (7468) for available times.
  • Thursday and Friday appointments available at the Dundee location, 4825 Dodge St. Call 402-955-7676 or 402-955-SHOT (7468) for available times.

Nebraska Medicine

Nebraska Medicine is offering COVID-19 vaccinations at clinics in several retail pharmacies and health centers around the Omaha-metro.

NebMed will provide Pfizer vaccinations by appointment at:

For those looking for walk-in appointments, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccinations will be available at these pharmacies:

  • Outpatient Pharmacy at Bellevue Health Center, located at 25th Street and Highway 370, will offer J&J vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
  • Outpatient Pharmacy at Durham Outpatient Center, located at 45th and Emile streets, will offer J&J vaccinations from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekends.

Around Omaha

SOUTH OMAHA: Testing and vaccinations are available at OneWorld, located at 4920 S. 30th St. Call 402-734-4110 to make an appointment for vaccinating anyone age 12 and older.

CHARLES DREW HEALTH CENTER: Call 402-451-3553 to schedule an appointment.

CHURCH CLINIC: Metropolitan Community Chuch of Omaha will host a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. No ID is required, but a parent or guardian must be present at the clinic with teens ages 12-18.

MCC FORT OMAHA: Vaccinations also will be distributed Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus, located at 5300 N. 30th St. Appointments will be made through the county’s vaccination registry.

TOTAL WELLNESS: DCHD has been working with Total Wellness, located at 9320 H Court, to establish a vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

VETERANS: Any eligible veterans can obtain COVID-19 vaccinations or boosters at the Omaha VA Medical Center’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics’ walk-in hours from 8 a.m.-2:45 p.m. weekdays. Appointments can also be scheduled online.

Sarpy/Cass health district

The Sarpy/Cass Health Department offers COVID-19 vaccinations at its offices, located at 701 Olson Drive in Papillion:

  • Tuesdays: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 1-6 p.m.

The health department offers the first and second doses of Pfizer and Modern vaccines, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single doses, and booster doses of all three vaccines.

Sarpy/Cass vaccination clinics

The Sarpy/Cass Health Department has scheduled vaccination clinics for all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including pediatric doses:

There are appointments available at the Health Department's COVID-19 vaccination clinics on December 14 and 15. ...

Posted by Sarpy/Cass Health Department on Monday, December 13, 2021

Appointments are recommended but not required. For scheduling assistance, call 833-998-2275 or 531-249-1873.

Three Rivers health district

Three Rivers Public Health Department is giving out boosters to those in certain risk categories who have had Pfizer vaccinations. It is also working with area businesses and schools to provide plan more COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

3RPHD is planning the following vaccination clinics next week at the Three Rivers Clinic, located at 2400 N. Lincoln Ave. in Fremont:

  • 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesday
  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday
  • 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17
  • 8 a.m-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21
  • 8 a.m-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22
  • 8 a.m-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28

Three regular pediatric vaccination clinics have been set up for children ages 5-11:

The health department has the necessary forms posted on their website, for minors and adults, for those who would like to fill them out ahead of their visit.

3RPHD’s regular clinics will continue:

  • In Dodge County, the Three Rivers clinic at 2400 N. Lincoln Ave. in Fremont, is open for walk-ins from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; and noon to 3:30 p.m. Friday.
  • In Saunders County, the Three Rivers clinic in Lake Wanahoo, located at 1320 E. 31st St., is open to walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month.

Those who are home-bound or require special accommodations but need a COVID-19 test or vaccine can contact the health district at 402-704-2245 to make arrangements.

In the upcoming weeks, due to the holidays and increased demand for vaccines, we will have modified days and hours for...

Posted by Three Rivers Public Health Department, Nebraska on Monday, December 13, 2021

Off-line help

CHI HEALTH VACCINE INFORMATION: The info line is available at 402-717-1255 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily in August.

NEBRASKA VACCINE HOTLINE: Nebraskans can call 531-249-1873 or toll-free at 833-998-2275 for more information on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination process.

DOUGLAS COUNTY HELPLINE: Local COVID-19 information, in Spanish and English, is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, except for holidays. Call 402-444-3400 for assistance.

IOWA VACCINE HOTLINE: Older or home-bound Iowans looking for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment can call 1-866-468-7887 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; or contact Connections Area Agency on Aging at 712-328-2540 or 1-800-432-9209.

Resource links

Where to get a test: Douglas County

Vaccine sign-up: Douglas County | Sarpy/Cass | Three Rivers | Nebraska

Vaccinations at hospitals: Nebraska Medicine | Methodist Hospital | Children’s Hospital

Retail pharmacy vaccine sign-ups: Hy-Vee | Walmart | Sam’s Club | Baker’s | Kohll’s | CVS | Kubat

Vaccine information: Douglas County | Douglas County clinics | Nebraska || Iowa | Pottawattamie County | Mills County | Fremont County

COVID-19 dashboards: Douglas County | Sarpy County | Three Rivers Health District | Lancaster County | Bryan Health | Nebraska | Iowa | Worldwide

School info: Omaha Public Schools | Millard Public Schools | Bellevue Public Schools | Westside Community Schools | Papillion-La Vista Community Schools | Gretna Public Schools | Elkhorn Public Schools | Council Bluffs Community Schools | Lincoln Public Schools | UNL | UNO | Midland University

COVID-19 risk dials: Lincoln-Lancaster County

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