Wednesday Jan. 5 COVID-19 update: Douglas County reports 10 deaths

Nomi Health closing test sites early because of the cold weather
Also: As cases increase among Omaha police and fire personnel, city leaders issued a mask requirement on Wednesday.
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 2:41 PM 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.

Omaha police, fire required to mask

Omaha firefighters and police officers are now required to wear surgical masks while indoors and on patrol in accordance with a mandate put in place Wednesday.

Citing the rising number of personnel testing positive for COVID-19, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen enacted the requirement.

According to the news release, OPD has 35 unable to work after testing positive for COVID-19; OFD has 39 off for the same reason.

“Most employees are vaccinated and have mild symptoms; however, a few unvaccinated employees have recently been hospitalized,” the release states.

Nebraska data snapshot

According to Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services data updated Wednesday, the state was reporting the following numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and vaccinations as of Tuesday:

DEATHS: DHHS reported 29 COVID-19 deaths in the past week, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 2,810. Last week, 18 COVID-19 deaths were reported across the state; about a month ago, there were 64 deaths reported in a week.

CASES: A surge in testing across the state in the past week — even amid a holiday weekend with weather barriers — pushed Nebraska’s positivity rate nearly 7% higher to 18.7% in a week’s time.

Across the state, 85,455 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the week ending Tuesday — 26,663 more than the week before — resulting in more than double the amount of positive tests confirmed in the week prior. The state lab confirmed 13,097 cases in the past week, bringing the state’s case total to 349,523 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The state health department did not provide an update on additional variant cases on Wednesday.

HOSPITALIZATIONS: The state’s health department reported 32 more COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Tuesday compared to last week, bringing this week’s total to 533 COVID-19 patients.

According to the Nebraska Hospital Capacity & Respiratory Illness dashboard, those numbers had been steadily declining since Dec. 13 after seeing upward trends since the end of October. As of Tuesday, there were 374 adult COVID-19 patients, up from 342 reported last week. There were two fewer adult COVID-19 patients in ICUs: 147 patients, down from 153 reported two weeks ago. The state also reported 12 pediatric COVID-19 patients, two more than last week.

Overall hospital occupancy, which is based on staffing levels, saw increases for adult and pediatric care across the state this week. Last week, 76% of 3,247 adult beds were occupied, while 72% of 243 pediatric beds were full. As of Tuesday, 78% of 3,270 adult beds were occupied, while all 238 pediatric beds were full.

More pediatric ICU beds were available this week, but fewer for adults. As of Tuesday, 84% (of 477) adult beds were filled, compared with 82% (of 490) adult beds occupied last week; and 73% (of 191) pediatric ICU beds were full, compared with 80% (of 191) pediatric beds filled last week.

VACCINATIONS: Currently, 65.1% of the 1.77 million Nebraskans ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated. In the past week, 20,223 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered, according to the DHHS data.

VACCINATION BREAKTHROUGHS: DHHS updates its breakthrough data roughly every 4-5 weeks, but no new data was reported this week.

INFLUENZA & RSV: Across the state, both flu cases and RSV cases are on the decline.

DHHS reported 2.7% positivity for RSV tests as of Saturday, down from 2.8% a week ago but still higher than the 0.3% reported about this same time in 2020. RSV positivity for 2021 peaked at 21.6% on Aug. 21, not quite as high as the previous peak of 24.1% reported in January 2020. DHHS has also reported 4,358 RSV tests were conducted the week ending Saturday as compared to 709 about this time in 2021.

The state reported 7.4% positivity for flu as of Saturday, down from 8.1% a week ago, but still way up from 0.3% reported about two years ago. About two years ago, Nebraska’s flu positivity was at 30.9%; the highest peak in the past two years was on Feb. 13, 2020, when DHHS reported a 34.9% flu positivity rate.

Flu testing in Nebraska continues to be on the rise. The state reported almost four times the number of flu tests had been conducted in the past week Saturday (9,068) as compared to the same date last year, when 2,480 flu tests were conducted.

Pottawattamie County data snapshot

Iowa Department of Public Health updated its county-by-county data on Wednesday, showing a decline in hospital beds available in Pottawattamie County and the surrounding region.

DEATHS: IDPH reported six COVID-19 deaths in Pottawattamie County in the past week, bringing the death toll to 255. The state’s COVID-19 death toll increased by 161 to 8,019.

CASES: Test numbers in Pottawattamie County nearly doubled in the past week, sparking a jump in positivity. As of data collected through Tuesday, the county had a 22% positivity rate for the week among 542 positive tests confirmed in the last seven days. That’s up from 14% last week and 16.9% two weeks ago. The ratio equates to 21,567 positive tests per 100,000 people, according to IDPH data. By comparison, the state’s seven-day positivity rate increased from 11.6% to 18%.

VACCINATIONS: The county was showing a slight increase in its vaccination rate — 57.4% — among those ages 12 and older, according to IDPH data, compared to 64.5% vaccination rate for the same age group in all of Iowa. That amounts to 49.6% of the county’s total population, compared to the 56.1% vaccination rate for the state.

HOSPITALIZATIONS: There were two more COVID-19 patients in county hospitals this week compared to last week. Of those 41 patients, nine were fully vaccinated: two ages 40-49; one age 60-69; two ages 70-79; and four ages 80 or older.

Tuesday’s data also showed that patients ages 50 and older accounted for most of the county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations: of those 32 patients, eight were in their 50s — all unvaccinated; nine were in their 60s — all but one unvaccinated; eight were in their 70s, two of them vaccinated; and seven were ages 80 and older — four of them vaccinated. There was also one unvaccinated patient age 12-17, according to the dashboard.

Of those COVID-19 patients, 20 were in county ICUs — a high since the start of the pandemic.

IDPH continued to report high hospital capacity for the county, but less so than last week. As of Tuesday, there were 8.3% of hospital beds available, up from 3.7% last week. In total, there were 14 in-patient beds available — eight more than last week; and still one ICU bed available.

Region 4, which includes Pottawattamie and nine surrounding counties, has 30.8% of beds available, down from 34.1% reported a week ago; that amounts to 112 hospital beds and eight ICU beds, up from 121 hospital beds and seven ICU beds available a week earlier.

Test sites closing early

Nomi Health said it would close its Omaha sites at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday due to the extreme cold, in the interest of staff safety.

Those with appointments at 3:30 p.m. will still be able to get tested, according to the news release.

Nomi Health has test sites at Oakview Mall, Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus, and Metropolitan Community College’s South Omaha campus.

Nomi Health followed up Wednesday evening with a note that due subzero wind chill values in the forecast, its COVID-19 testing sites in Omaha would remain closed Thursday.

“Those who have scheduled appointments Thursday will be notified by email. The sites are expected to reopen Friday,“ the release states.

Douglas County update

DEATHS: The Douglas County Health Department reported 10 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday: Five men ages 50-90+ died; a man in his 60s was the only one of them who was not vaccinated. Additionally, five women ages 30-90+ — only the oldest woman was vaccinated — have died.

The latest report brings the local COVID-19 death toll to 932.

CASES: DCHD also reported 968 positive COVID-19 cases had been confirmed since Tuesday’s report, jumping the local seven-day average from 768 cases to 801 cases — the highest average reported during the pandemic.

The total number of local residents infected with the virus to date is now 107,905.

A week ago, the local seven-day average was 335 cases. Two weeks ago, it was 272 cases. Two months ago, it was 166 cases. Six months ago, it was 17 cases. A year ago, it was 354 cases.

The seven-day average per 100,000 for Douglas County also increased, from 942.7 to 976.8 cases.

HOSPITAL CAPACITY: Local hospital capacity fluctuates according to staffing levels.

“We hope more people will make the choice to get this extremely effective vaccine,” Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said. “It is vitally important to keep as many people out of the hospital as we can to reduce pressure on our health care system.”

The health department reported Wednesday afternoon that local hospitals were at 94% capacity, with 84 beds available, down from 103 on Tuesday, 209 on Monday, and 277 reported on Sunday. Adult ICU beds were 91% occupied, with 27 beds available. Pediatric ICU beds were at 84% capacity with 21 beds available, up from 19 on Monday and 17 reported Sunday.

HOSPITALIZATIONS: Among those hospitalized were 347 COVID-19 patients, up from 340 reported on Tuesday. Wednesday’s total still included seven pediatric patients. There were also 110 adult COVID-19 patients in local ICUs as of Wednesday, up from 105 on Tuesday, 96 reported Monday morning, and 90 reported Sunday. Of the current ICU patients, 54 of them were on ventilators.

Additionally, nine adult patients were awaiting COVID-19 test results, DCHD reported Wednesday.

The highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in 2021 was 350 patients reported on Dec. 13.

UNL implementing mask, testing policies

Citing the quick-spreading nature of the omicron COVID-19 variant, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced Wednesday it will again implement a mask policy.

“As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads quickly across the U.S. and now in Nebraska, we are making several important updates to our safety protocols for the Spring semester,” Wednesday’s release states. “UNL will temporarily require face coverings indoors, including at UNL events, until further notice.”

Students, faculty, and staff will also be required to take a COVID-19 test ahead of their return to campus, or next week if they have already returned. Testing is available on both UNL campuses.

Lincoln-Lancaster County update

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported four COVID-19 deaths Wednesday: an unvaccinated man in his 50s, a vaccinated man in his 60s, a vaccinated woman in her 60s, and an unvaccinated woman in her 70s. The recent deaths bring the local death toll to 362.

LLCHD also reported a record number of cases Wednesday: 551 new positive cases bring the pandemic total there to 51,498.

Lincoln-area hospitals were caring for 122 COVID-19 patients, 15 of them on ventilators.

Iowa virus deaths top 8,000; 90% of cases are omicron

(AP) - Iowa has surpassed 8,000 deaths from COVID-19 as virus infections increased and significantly more children were hospitalized with the virus.

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Wednesday posted 19,049 confirmed positive cases in the past week, and the state’s seven-day moving average of positive cases stood at 2,416 per day, the highest level since November 2020. Total deaths in Iowa rose to 8,019, including 161 additional deaths that date back as far as Oct. 13.

Dr. Dan Diekema, an infectious disease specialist at University of Iowa Health Care, says the omicron variant is now Iowa’s dominant strain, comprising up to 90% of cases.

Kansas hospitals overflow with COVID patients as staff is sickened

(AP) - Patients are dying in emergency rooms of small Kansas hospitals as larger hospitals that are struggling with soaring staff absences and COVID-19 cases turn down transfers.

Hospitals across the state painted a dire picture Wednesday of worsening conditions as the highly contagious omicron variant collides with a delta surge.

They urged public officials to require masks and impose emergency declarations that could free up more resources, saying they are struggling to keep up with the demand for testing and that surgeries are being delayed and clinics canceled.

Here are the top 10 things you should know about the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5–11 years. Get your children ages 5 years and up vaccinated as soon as possible. More:

Posted by CDC on Wednesday, January 5, 2022

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.

  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 5544 Ames Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+ & Moderna vaccines available
  • 4-7 p.m. at Creighton Preparatory School, located at 7400 Western Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 4-7 p.m. at Bryan High School, located at 4700 Giles Road – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 4-7 p.m. at Omaha North High Magnet School, located at 4410 N. 36th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 9 a.m.-Noon at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 9 a.m.-Noon at Omaha Kanya Baptist Church, located at 4730 N. 60th Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • Noon-3 p.m. at the Girls, Inc., located at 2811 N. 45th St. – All vaccines available.

Today's #Covid19 Update is right here: Douglas County Nebraska Nebraska...

Posted by Douglas County Health Department on Monday, January 3, 2022

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 dose.

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

Pottawattamie County

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.

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.

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 quick search: COVID-19 | Coronavirus | Vaccine

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