Lincoln, NE (November 20, 2020) Lincoln’s covid-19 risk dial remained in the red zone this week, indicating another week of “Severe Risk Of Spread”.
The announcement, from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, came as two more deaths and 184 new cases were announced. 66 local residents have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the Pandemic. Over the past 15 days Lincoln has averaged 244 additional cases each day.
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird opened her weekly briefing with an appeal for all residents to follow the safety rules, emphasizing that Lincoln’s hospitals have seen their Covid patient load more than triple in recent weeks.
Dr. Kevin Reichmuth of Nebraska Pulmonary Specialties has been treating patients with the virus since the beginning of the Pandemic.
“We’re in very dire straits in the strain that this is putting on Nebraska Hospitals” he said, adding “I worry about our ability in the coming weeks if we don’t flatten this curve.”Reichmuth said those who think only about the risk to their own health are not seeing the full picture, saying that anyone who contracts the virus increases the chance of spreading it to others, who may be more vulnerable. “I am worried about how much more we can do. Please help us help you by following these regulations.”
Dr. Josh Miller, an emergency room physician at Bryan Health, said “it’s been fatiguing to do this for this many months. The situation we have right now is much more serious than we had in the spring. We are seeing significantly more patients with Covid than we did in the spring.” He added that his opportunity to take care of patients with strokes, heart attacks, and other problems is diminished by the time taken to care for Covid patients. He also implored those who have mild symptoms to avoid going to the Emergency Room.
Michelle Rogers, a Registered Nurse at CHI St. Elizabeth Hospital said the Intensive Care Unit beds are filled each day. “It seems like there are three or four patients waiting to get that one available bed” she said. “What we’re also seeing is a rise in people who are not taking Covid 19 seriously” she said, adding “seeing people without masks in the community is extremely disheartening.”
Rogers talked about seeing patients who are not able to see their families before dying. “We in the emergency room become their family. We are the last hug they receive, the last hand they are able to hold, the last prayer they hear.”
She repeated what many others in health care have said. “We are burned out. All that we are asking is that you help a little.” She called on the community to “strive for prevention” by taking Covid 19 seriously, and following the rules on wearing masks and social distancing.
“This is a battle we can win” she said, “but only if each and every person does their part.”
City County Health Director Pat Lopez said Community Spread remains a concern. She pointed out that the number of cases in the past week has more than doubled the number three weeks ago. The weekly positivity rate of tests has doubled, from 13% to 29% in the most recent week. “We are very concerned that the spike in new cases will increase the number of hospitalizations in the next few weeks.”
She also pointed to the number of cases involving people aged 60 and older. She said, however, that it’s also apparent that young people, although less impacted themselves, have the ability to carry the disease and spread it to others.
Lopez said additional restrictions are being considered for next week that would parallel those issued by Governor Pete Ricketts in the past week. She said they would be keyed to the 25% level of hospital occupancy by Covid patients.
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