Friday Jan. 7 COVID-19 update: CHI Health urges double-masking; treatments in limited supply

Nomi Health test sites struggle in extreme cold
WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 11:19 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.

Omaha-area school dashboards snapshot

Here’s where local districts’ COVID-19 totals stand since Monday for some districts that updated stats over the holiday break, others didn’t update any numbers since our last full report on Dec. 17.

Omaha Public Schools had 227 cases ahead of its holiday break. On Friday, OPS was reporting 594 cases: 469 among students and 125 among staff.

Westside Community Schools on Monday was reporting 29 active cases, up from 14 reported Dec. 17. On Friday, Westside was reporting 126 cases: 94 among students and 32 among staff. The school district has reported 631 cases to date during this school year: 516 among students and 115 among staff. During the 2020-21 school year, Westside had 568 cases: 400 among students and 168 among staff.

Millard Public Schools reported Tuesday, Dec. 21, that it had 122 active cases in the district. On Friday, the district was reporting 297 cases. Two high schools had more than 40 cases; a third had just under 40. One middle school was reporting 20 cases; the next highest middle-school case count had six less. One elementary school reported more than 10 cases, with two others reporting nearly 10. Here’s a breakdown of the schools reporting the most cases this week:

  • Millard West High School reported 46 cases, Millard North had 41, Millard South High School reported 37 cases.
  • Beadle Middle School had 20 cases; North Middle had 14 cases; Andersen and Kiewit each had eight cases; Central and Russel middle schools each reported seven cases.
  • Willowdale Elementary School reported 12 cases; Rohwer Elementary reported nine cases; Black Elk, Reagan, and Sandoz each reported seven cases.

Elkhorn Public Schools reported Friday that it had 89 active COVID-19 cases, compared to 55 reported in December. Among the top case tallies in Elkhorn schools: Elkhorn South reported 13 cases; Elkhorn North had 12. Elkhorn Grandview Middle School reported six cases. Among the elementary schools reporting the most cases were Blue Sage, with seven cases; Fire Ridge with six cases; and Spring Ridge with five cases.

Papillion La Vista Community Schools had 44 active cases as of Dec. 20, and noted it would post new data on Monday.

Bellevue Public Schools reported 124 cases on Friday, up from 47 cases as of Dec. 23. Friday’s case count was 90 among students, up from 37 in the previous BPS report; and 34 among staff, up from 10 cases. That compares with 51 active cases the week ending Dec. 16.

The high schools by far had the most cases: Bellevue West had 18 student cases and four staff cases; Bellevue East had 16 cases among students and four among staff. Other schools with case counts higher than most schools included 10 cases at Mission Middle School, with eight among students and two among staff; and eight cases at Two Springs Elementary, three among students and five among teachers.

To date, the district has had 940 cases this school year: 780 among students and 160 among staff.

Gretna Public Schools last reported 60 active cases on Friday, compared to nine on Monday and 30 reported Dec. 17. The district was also most recently reporting 523 recovered cases, compared to 455 on Monday and 391 reported as recovered on Dec. 17.

Council Bluffs Public Schools on Friday reported 88 cases, up from three active cases as of last week: two staff and one student. Among this week’s cases, 69 were students and 19 were among staff. On Dec. 17, the district was reporting 45 active COVID-19 cases: 37 among students and still eight among staff.

CHI Health demonstrates proper masking

Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, CHI’s chief of infectious disease, talked Friday about the importance of effective mask use as the very contagious omicron variant moves quickly into the region.

“Omicron is contagious... I would compare it to a virus like measles,” she said.

Dr. Vivekanandan said proper masking has been of the utmost importance at CHI Health throughout the pandemic, but the new variant prompted them to move to double-masking at their hospitals: employees can wear either a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top or employees can wear an N95 mask if they prefer. The change makes a better seal on the mask and keeps it “less leaky,” offering better protection for their staff, she said.

Of CHI’s 11,000 employees, 210 were out sick on Thursday, Dr. Vivekanandan said. Keeping their sick rate low is driving CHI’s prevention policies, she said.

Infectious disease expert Dr. David Quimby demonstrated the difference. Putting on a standard surgical mask, the kind that has become a very common sight during the pandemic, he pointed out the gaps along the side of the mask and that his glasses fog when he exhales, which happens because there isn’t a good seal on your face. Adding a cloth mask on top solves both issues.

“The point of the cloth mask isn’t necessarily to do more filtering but to just make the first one fit better on your face,” Dr. Quimby said.

He said studies done in February 2021 showed particles filtered out with a double mask is “upwards of 85% as opposed to 60% with the procedural mask alone.”

Many medical staff are using N95 masks — and goggles — and have always done so in respiratory and COVID-19 rooms.

Dr. Quimby emphasized that omicron isn’t just a cold. While it’s true the symptoms are milder, the wider spread of the virus increases the chances that many more people could be hospitalized.

But if you’re not vaccinated, you have a much higher chance of being hospitalized even with the “milder” variant, he said.

And while many are relying on monoclonal antibodies, not all available treatments are working on omicron and those that are, are in short supply, Dr. Vivekanandan said.

While those supplies may increase in the future, it likely won’t happen for another five or six weeks, they said.

“That won’t help you if you’re sick tomorrow,” Dr. Quimby said.

Douglas County update

DEATHS: The Douglas County Health Department confirmed five COVID-19 deaths on Friday: two men ages 75-85 — one of them vaccinated — as well as two unvaccinated women in their 60s and a vaccinated woman over 75 years of age have died, bringing the local COVID-19 death toll to 941.

CASES: Also on Friday, DCHD reported 1,152 positive COVID-19 cases had been confirmed since Thursday’s report, bringing the total number of local residents infected with the virus to date to 110,563.

The latest case report brings the local seven-day average to another record high for the pandemic, from 909 cases to about 916 cases, noting no reports were issued on Dec. 31.

About a week ago, the local seven-day average was 410 cases. About two weeks ago, it was 266 cases. About two months ago, it was 171 cases. Six months ago, it was 18 cases.

The Douglas County COVID-19 data dashboard on Friday was reporting a seven-day average of 1,098.8 cases per 100,000 population, down from 1,100 per 100,000 on Thursday. On Dec. 30, that average was 528.2 cases per 100,000 population.

HOSPITAL CAPACITY: Local hospital capacity fluctuates according to staffing levels. On Friday, the health department reported that as of Thursday, area hospitals were 93% full with 93 beds available. ICU beds were 92% full with 27 beds available; pediatric ICU beds were 87% full with 17 beds available.

HOSPITALIZATIONS: On Thursday, local hospitals were caring for 352 COVID-19 patients, surpassing 2021′s record number of COVID-19 patients, reported on Dec. 13. Thursday’s report included nine pediatric COVID-19 patients. Of these patients, 94 are in ICUs, 55 of them on ventilators.

Additionally, 13 adult patients were awaiting COVID-19 test results.

Friday hours for Nomi Health test sites

In an email Friday morning, Nomi Health said it was closing its MCC-Fort Omaha site for the day due to problems with the site’s generator, which provides power and heat for the location.

The spokespeson said the sites at Oakview Mall and at Metro Community College’s south Omaha campus would close early, at 1 p.m.

“The decision to close early was made for the safety and well-being of staff members,” the spokesperson said.

Nomi Health’s indoor testing site Council Bluffs, located near 1751 Madison Ave., would remain open.

“All sites should reopen Saturday,” a Nomi Health spokesman said in an email to 6 News.

Nomi Health testing sites have been closed since mid-afternoon on Wednesday, shut down early due to extreme cold and citing staff safety. At that time, they had planned to reopen on Friday.

Nebraska Medicine makes plea for vaccination

“We need your help.”

Facing an increase in COVID-19 patients as the omicron variant takes hold across the state, Nebraska Medicine posted a message on its Facebook Page on Friday morning urging more to get COVID-19 vaccinations — and boosters when eligible — noting that the most effective treatments and medications to combat the virus are extremely limited.

“There is only one kind of monoclonal antibody treatment that is proving effective against this variant. Right now, there is only enough of this treatment, sotrovimab, for about five of our patients per day. Five. We have 75 to 100 patients each day who meet federal guidelines to receive the drug,” the post states.

And the medication allotments are in limited supply as well, with supplies controlled by public health agencies, it says.

“If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you haven’t gotten the booster shot, please do so.”

We need your help. Not only is the omicron variant proving to be the most transmissible strain of COVID-19 yet, it is...

Posted by Nebraska Medicine on Friday, January 7, 2022

GET ANSWERS: Upcoming information livestreams

  • At about 12:30 p.m., Heartland Focus welcomes Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse to the 6 News studio. The program airs at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
  • At 2 p.m., two CHI Health doctors will talk about updated mask policies for frontline healthcare workers. Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, CHI’s chief of infectious disease, and infectious disease expert Dr. David Quimby will share insights into the effects of masks on the COVID-19 omicron variant and discuss the effectiveness of different types of masks and mask strategies, like double-masking. “We know that the Omicron Variant of COVID-19 is the dominant variant in Nebraska and Iowa and is much more transmissible than previous variants. The transmissibility is comparable to other infectious agents like measles,” Dr. Vivekanandan said in a news release about the livestream.
  • At 12:30 p.m., Nebraska Medicine is planning to livestream a COVID-19 Q&A session with Dr. Mark Rupp and Dr. Armando De Alba to allow the public to get answers to any questions they have about COVID-19 and the omicron variant during the discussion.
  • At 1 p.m., the Nebraska Hospital Association will talk about “overwhelming impacts” that the omicron COVID-19 variant is having on patient care. While hospitalizations have not spiked alongside positive cases, the number of COVID-19 patients remains at unrelenting high levels, leaving hospitals “stressed and overwhelmed.” Leaders from several Nebraska hospitals will talk about “the serious nature of our current situation,” and plan to address staffing shortages, scarce bed availability, and healthcare worker burnout.

Bryan Health update

Bryan Health, based in Lincoln, reported Friday that it was caring for 76 COVID-19 patients, up from 63 on Monday. Of those patients, 11 are on ventilators.

The health system also has 15 pediatric patients, one of them hospitalized with COVID-19.

There are also nine other patients awaiting COVID-19 test results.

Kansas court ruling keeps law allowing COVID lawsuits alive

(AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court is keeping intact a law that allows people to sue counties over mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions and obtain quick trial-court decisions.

The court declined Friday to consider whether it’s constitutional for a state law to require judges to rule on such lawsuits within 10 days. It concluded that a Johnson County judge had no business striking down the law in a case that dealt with another legal question.

Judge David Hauber’s decision against the law applying to counties was in a lawsuit against a school district’s mask mandate. School districts were covered by another law that’s since expired.

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.

  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m at the Douglas County Health Department, located at 1111 S. 41st. St. – All vaccines available.
  • 9 a.m.-Noon at Omaha Kanyaw 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.
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Metropolitan Community College’s Elkhorn Valley Campus, located at 829 – Pfizer for ages 12+
  • 5-7 p.m. at Beals Elementary, located at 1720 S. 48th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 5-7 p.m. at Pinewood Elementary School, located at 6717 N. 63rd 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.
  • 5-7 p.m. at Gomez Heritage Elementary School, located at 5101 S. 17th St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 5-7 p.m. at Standing Bear Elementary School, located at 15860 Taylor St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 9 a.m.-noon at Metropolitan Community College’s South Omaha Campus, located at 2801 Edward Babe Gomez Ave. A – Pfizer for ages 12+
  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 5544 Ames Ave. – Pfizer for ages 5+ and Moderna
  • 1-4 p.m. at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha Campus, located at 5300 N. 30 St. Head for Building No. 23 near 32nd Street and Sorensen Parkway; parking in Lot A. – Pfizer for ages 12+
  • 4-7 p.m. at Benson High Magnet School, located at 5120 Maple St. – Pfizer for ages 5+
  • 4-7 p.m. at Omaha South Magnet School, located at 4519 S. 24th 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: Douglas County Nebraska Nebraska...

Posted by Douglas County Health Department on Friday, January 7, 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.

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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