After summer lull, COVID rises in the fall

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 9:32 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - It’s now roughly eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. While it seemed Nebraskans flattened the curve for awhile, a recent increase shows we might be just getting started.

In a briefing Tuesday morning, CHI Health CEO Cliff Robertson said the hospital system currently has 128 COVID positive patients. That is an increase of 40 from the week before and an even larger increase from the roughly 50 they had at the end of July.

“There’s quite a few new infections which obviously is leading to quite a few new hospitalizations,” Robertson said. “It’s not going away. I think what we learned is that this virus is challenging just because there’s so much spread that seems to occur before people are sick and ill or symptomatic. That makes it even more important for us to let our guards down.”

Many people across the state are experiencing precaution fatigue and have started to let their guards down, leading to the increase.

Central District Health Department is reporting a 22% positivity rate. To help get it down closer to their goal of less than 5%, the department asked the state to consider a mask mandate for the district. The request was denied.

“The governor has not been supportive of mask mandates because he believes that people will voluntarily use their mask knowing that they’re doing the right thing,” CDHD Director Teresa Anderson said. “We were concerned about where we’re headed, knowing that we’re headed toward a surge again.”

“I don’t believe that we’ve plateaued yet,” Robertson said. “If you look at the infection rates, the hospitalizations rate, the testing rates it does look like we have another possible couple of weeks of gradual increasing.”

Anderson said one of her biggest concerns are the schools. While many have mask mandates and are doing a good job of prevent spread in their buildings, she said it’s now on everyone else to prevent it in the community so the schools can stay open.

“If our kiddos can wear masks all day long, we think adults can do it also to keep those kids in school,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to do our part on the outside of the school by saying if we as a community understand that masks are going to be keeping our schools opened, then we need to be wearing those masks.”

CHI Health says they’re starting to prepare their hospitals for the surge by contracting with 4 companies of traveling nursing staff. While they’re okay right now the concern is they will be overwhelmed if numbers continue to rise.

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