Omaha doctors say COVID cases on the rise again as fall approaches

Omaha doctors say COVID-19 cases are still rising.
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 6:52 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Doctors say COVID cases are increasing again, both here at home and across the nation.

The number of cases is nothing like the big spike when the pandemic began -- but doctors say while the number of cases is rising, the number of hospitalizations don’t seem to be following suit.

Nebraska Medicine infectious disease physician Dr. Richard Starlin says that’s because many of us have either been infected with or vaccinated against COVID-19.

“That’s what we think, the latest estimate I saw was that 97% of Americans have some degree of immunity, either from prior immunization, prior infection, or what we call hybrid immunity, from infection and immunization,” Starlin said.

He says there is a new variant making its way around, and it’s been detected in a number of states. This is happening just as doctors here are ready to introduce a new COVID booster.

“We have confidence that getting the booster will still protect against severe disease and hospitalization,” Starlin said. “How much it will actually protect from getting the virus is not really clear at this point in time. Now we don’t know who the vaccine is going to be recommended for. The CDC and advisory committee have to meet in September to tell us that. But it’s expected that in the next couple of weeks that we should have the vaccine available.”

“It’s unpredictable what the future will hold, but preparing yourself with vaccination is the most important thing you can do,” he said.

Starlin also said influenza is also unpredictable -- and it’s a good idea to ensure people receive their flu shot as well. Oftentimes, the flu and COVID vaccines can be administered in the same visit. The RSV vaccine is relatively new -- he recommends seniors and those who are immunocompromised take the shot. As always, check with your doctor first.