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Doctors respond to changes in Nebraska’s DHMs, COVID-19 Dashboard

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - COVID-19 hospitalizations across Nebraska have hit their lowest levels since early September. On October 21, 2021, levels were at 369 patients.

Governor Pete Ricketts stepped in to make changes since those hospitalizations have dropped below the 10% threshold.

These changes included the return of some elective surgeries, and the statewide COVID-19 dashboard will no longer be updated on a daily basis. It’ll now only show case and hospitalization numbers every week.

Doctors at CHI Health said the timing of these changes is concerning. “Healthcare resiliency is at a finite amount,” said Dr. David Quimby, infectious disease doctor at CHI Health.

Dr. Quimby said once winter rolls around, more people will spend more time inside, something he feels may contribute to higher COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

“In Florida, for example, where when it’s that hot, people tend to congregate indoors for air conditioning, they did have a large increase in cases,” said Dr. Quimby.

Now that the COVID-19 dashboard won’t be putting out information as frequently as it was, doctors say it may affect how people continue to respond to the pandemic.

“If you know there are a lot of cases going around, you might be more likely to wear a mask when you go to the local supermarket as opposed to when we were at our very lowest amount of cases in July,” Dr. Quimby said.

Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease doctor at UNMC said most of his colleagues aren’t fond of the dashboard change either. Doctors told 10/11 that it’s better if more helpful information is available to the public.

“It’s not sufficient to have state level data on a weekly basis to understand where there are problem areas. Trying to focus response on what’s happening in Lincoln does not necessarily reflect at all what’s happening in McCook or Scottsbluff,” Dr. Lawler said.

Doctors continued to stress that COVID-19 vaccines help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, in turn easing the strain on healthcare workers.

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