Pandemic, flu could combine for 'perfect storm'

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Hayes County now has at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, the last county in the state to give up its pandemic-free status.

President Trump’s case, along with the many White House staffers who have tested positive, should help make the point that this shouldn’t be a political issue.

“We can’t emphasize this enough: COVID-19 isn’t a political or ideological issue,” read a statement issued Monday by a group of physicians and scientists from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine.

Nebraska is currently tied for 6th among U.S. states for daily new cases per capita, equal to the May peak and rising rapidly.

One difference, however: In April and May, hospitals were 50% full. Today, Nebraska is relying on hospitals that are currently more than 85% full. And every positive COVID-19 test among members of the medical staff puts that much more strain on the system.

“On our current trajectory, Nebraska’s health system is likely to be overwhelmed by late fall or early winter,” according to information released by UNMC.

Other information released by the med center:

• Many states and countries have reduced their community case rates to near zero by adhering to basic precautionary behaviors.

• Closed, prolonged contact carry the highest risk of transmission, but the SARS-C0V-2 virus can spread through the air and infect people at distances, especially in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

• A small number of infected people can infect large numbers of people -- talking, singing and yelling appear to increase the risk of transmission.

• The disease is much more severe in the elderly, with 20% of seniors over 65 with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and over 7% dying.

• Young people suffer fewer ill effects of the disease, but have helped spread it when they returned to college.

• Children often have no symptoms but are an important source of transmission to other children and adults. Hospitalizations and deaths do occur among children, including a 6-year-old who recently died in Douglas County.

“We understand everyone has pandemic fatigue -- we do also,” the statement continued. “But we are hearing too many COVID patient stories that start with ‘I went to a party’ or ‘I visited extended family, but everyone seemed well.’

“Finally, COVID-19 response isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Many states and countries have shown it is possible to suppress spread without going into complete lock-down. We can strike an effective balance. Now is clearly not the time to relax restrictions, but by following the following precautions, we can weather the storm this fall and winter and still while supporting our economy and overall community well-being. Together, we can emerge in the spring to a vaccine and clearer road back to normal.”

As a reminder:

• Wear a face covering in public

• Avoid large gatherings and close contact indoors

• Maintain at least six feet distance from others in public

• Practice good hand hygiene

• Stay home and call your doctor if you are ill

• Quarantine at home if you have close contact with someone with COVID-19

• Cooperate with public health in tracking exposures and illness

View the complete release here: https://bit.ly/2GBGGZl

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