Monday Jan. 10 COVID-19 update: Douglas County positivity rate hits 30%, a pandemic record

Mayor says Omaha mask mandate ‘does not make sense’
WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 11:38 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 mayor: Mask mandate doesn’t make sense

As local COVID-19 positivity reached a record high for the pandemic, Mayor Jean Stothert said Monday that she doesn’t think Omaha needs a mask mandate but should instead focus on personal responsibility.

“A mask mandate in only Omaha does not make sense when people who live in Douglas and surrounding counties come to Omaha every day,” she said in a comment released by her spokeswoman Monday evening. “What I do support is personal responsibility and accountability, get vaccinated and if you are sick, get tested and follow CDC quarantine recommendations.”

The Douglas County Health Department has reported more than 1,000 cases in five of the six reports it’s issued in the past seven days; on Wednesday, when it reported 968 cases. The current local seven-day average is 1,141, another pandemic record.

Read the full statement from the mayor:

DCSO implementing staff masking

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that deputies at the Douglas County Courthouse and the Civic Center will be required to wear masks.

“We need to protect our staffing,” DCSO Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson told 6 News.

As of Monday, five courthouse security staff were out because they had COVID-19.

Nebraska Medicine hosts Q&A

At 12:30 p.m., Nebraska Medicine livestreamed 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.

Dr. Rupp said the emergent of variants is what we expected all along, but omicron “has just exploded. It really is much more transmissible than other variants and that became painfully obvious. ... Within just weeks, it was really worldwide,” doubling about every two days or so.

The latest variant seems to be affecting upper airways more than lower, which might explain why there seem to be more mild cases with omicron, he said.

“But I don’t want to give people the wrong idea: When we look at it on a population basis, this is very, very serious. And the sheer numbers of cases that we see coming through the community will predict for a greater number, overall, of hospitalizations... and deaths,” he said.

Dr. De Alba and Dr. Rupp both urged special attention to preventative measures right now, like wearing masks that fit properly — or wearing cloth masks over medical paper masks — anytime you’re around others, not just when you feel symptomatic because most people are contagious at the beginning of their sickness and often before they have symptoms. And of course, N95 and KN95 masks work even better.

Testing and isolating are also of the utmost importance, they said. But “the fight (against COVID-19) does not start in the hospitals,” he said. It starts in the community.

It’s crucial right now to use good judgment and avoid high-risk settings, especially in the next few weeks, Dr. Rupp said.

He also urged the community not to depend on treatments like monoclonal antibodies and other medications used to treat COVID-19 as they will be reserved for individuals at the highest risk levels. Instead, he said, get vaccinated. “Don’t put yourself in harm’s way,” he said.

Dr. De Alba also encouraged those with children, especially, to get vaccinated so they can care for others in the family, should they fall ill. Be sure, too, to check on babies’ breathing, and note that dry diapers are a red flag.

He also urged people not to wait around for herd immunity, calling it “inhumane.”

“If we depend on herd immunity, a lot of people will die,” he said.

Both doctors highly discouraged COVID-19 “parties.”

Acknowledging that “it does have some intuitive appeal to it,” Dr. Rupp said you’re not guaranteed that you won’t have a severe case, and you really don’t know what the natural disease-induced immunity is going to be, especially with the omicron variant.”

COVID-19 vaccines are still the best way to get a robust, predictable response to the virus, he said.

Nebraska Hospital Association update

At 1 p.m., the Nebraska Hospital Association talked 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.

Josie Abboud, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital, said medical staff from across the state were on a call Monday led by Dr. James Lawler of the Global Center for Health Security that showed Nebraska COVID-19 hospitalizations at 560 now, with models showing upwards of 770 patients in a couple weeks’ time.

The hospital administrators all expressed concern about where these patients will go.

Acknowledging the increase in cases even among the vaccinated as the omicron variant moves into the state, Todd Consbruck, CEO of Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital in O’Neill, Neb., urged Nebraskans to vaccinate not only to protect their loved ones and themselves but as a means of protecting the state’s medical workforce as well.

While sick staff plays a role in the shortages, the other concern is the sheer amount of vacancies. Methodist Hospital had 904 open posted positions as of Monday afternoon, Abboud said. And it’s not just clinical positions; admin and IT jobs are also needing to be filled, she said.

The problem is only going to get worse, said Jeremy Nordquist, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association. COVID-19 aside, thousands more nurses will be needed across the state, and Nebraska policy-makers should make sure the state is ready, bearing in mind that it’s going to take a while to rebuild after the COVID-19 health crisis — and for the healthcare workforce to recover.

All those job openings mean many medical workers across the state are also carrying a lot more than bigger workloads, and it’s taking a toll, especially as some care for patients whom they wouldn’t normally be assigned, or struggle to find placement for patients needing additional care — all while listening to families talk about how they wished their loved one they’re caring for would have only been vaccinated, or in some cases becoming a target of disrespect.

Children’s Hospital requires provided masks

Children’s Hospital announced over the weekend that it would be requiring all patients, families, and visitors to wear the masks they provide while in their facilities.

“With the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 on the rise in our community, we’re making this change to protect everyone’s health,” the hospital system said in a post on its Facebook page.

The masks are like those required for Children’s team members, the post states.

Masking Update: Children’s is now requiring all patients, families and visitors to wear a well-fitted ear loop mask...

Posted by Children's Hospital & Medical Center on Saturday, January 8, 2022

Douglas County update

DEATHS: The Douglas County Health Department on Monday reported four COVID-19 deaths: three men ages 50-75 and a woman older than age 85 have died, bringing the local death toll to 945.

“None of these individuals had been vaccinated,” DCHD said in its report.

CASES: DCHD reported 1,433 positive COVID-19 cases had been confirmed since Saturday’s report, bringing the total number of local residents infected with the virus to date to 113,828.

The recent trend in elevated positive cases has pushed the seven-day average to a pandemic record: 1,141. While that isn’t unexpected due to the spike in testing numbers, the county’s positivity rate — a data point that averages against the number of tests — has also hit a pandemic high of 30.1% and has jumped nearly 20% in two weeks: A week ago, it was 21.1%; two weeks ago, it was 11.9%.

The Douglas County COVID-19 data dashboard on Monday was reporting a seven-day average of 1,388.3 cases per 100,000 population, up from 1,098.8 per 100,000 on Friday. About two weeks ago, that average was 359.9 cases per 100,000 population.

“The large majority of locally sequenced cases have been identified as the omicron variant,” Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said in Monday’s release. “Please take this seriously. While it may be less likely to produce a serious illness than earlier strains, some people still will get very sick, and our hospitals are running out of room.”

HOSPITAL CAPACITY: Local hospital capacity fluctuates according to staffing levels. On Sunday, area hospitals were 87% full with 182 beds available, up from 144 reported Saturday. ICU beds were 92% full with 23 beds available, up from 12 reported Saturday. Pediatric ICU beds were 88% full with 16 beds available, down from 19 reported Saturday.

HOSPITALIZATIONS: On Sunday, local hospitals were caring for 380 COVID-19 patients — 36 more than reported Saturday; that total includes eight pediatric COVID-19 patients. Of these patients, 102 are in ICUs, 55 of them on ventilators.

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

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.-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.

Just a reminder, Total Wellness's testing site in Fremont is by appointment only at this time. Please do not show up...

Posted by Three Rivers Public Health Department, Nebraska on Monday, January 10, 2022

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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