The positive test rate in Douglas County jumped nearly 4 1/2 points to 21.2% for the week ending Saturday, the highest positive test rate in the county since early May.

The Creighton COVID-19 Dashboard reported 56 total cases for that same week, the third-highest total reported since the start of the fall semester.

The 51 student cases and five employee cases raise Creighton’s semester total to 451 coronavirus cases.

“The past two weeks have yielded the highest positive test numbers this fall,” said Tanya Winegard, vice provost for Student Life, on Oct. 30. “This corresponds with the highest numbers of students, faculty and staff utilizing the testing center.”

Creighton tested 901 students and 839 students in the weeks mentioned by Winegard. The positive test rate rose to 3.6% and 3.8% in each of those weeks respectively.

Creighton tested its highest number of students last week: 974 students. About 3.3% of students tested during the week ending Saturday received positive results, according to the dashboard.

“Contact tracing reveals that the exposures to COVID-19 are typically when individuals are gathering off campus and not practicing physical distancing or wearing face coverings,” Winegard said. “Because we know this information, it is important for all of us to make good choices about our activities. Our behaviors off campus have a direct impact on campus.”

Omaha’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are accelerating with a two-week doubling time, according to numbers shared during a press conference held Monday with the chief medical officers of CHI Health, Methodist and Nebraska Medicine.

There were 138 COVID-19 patients in Omaha metro hospitals on Oct. 17, and that number grew to 264 by Saturday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals grew 91% over that 14-day period.

“Douglas and Lancaster county and Nebraska generally are seeing significant increases in COVID-19 infections,” said Dr. Bill Lydiatt, chief medical officer of Methodist. “This continues to pressure us to find appropriate beds and, even more critically, staffing for those beds.”

Nebraska Medicine estimates that Omaha metro hospitals will see 530 COVID-19 patients by Nov. 14.

“The first strategy is to decrease the number of infections,” Lydiatt said during the Zoom press conference.

He said citizens should avoid crowded places, social distance, wear masks and practice good hand-washing.

In March, Omaha metro hospitals stopped elective surgery because of inadequate personal protective equipment, staff shortages and hospital capacity.

Methodist again began paring back surgical cases on Oct. 29, Lydiatt said, taking discharges, admissions and predicted cases into account.

In CHI hospitals, some surgeries that are considered elective may also be postponed, according to Dr. Cary Ward, chief medical officer for CHI Health.

“We have the beds. We have equipment, medicines, masks, gowns, etc., but our staff are approaching their limits,” Ward said.

He said the hospitals still have the ability to do urgent procedures, but postponing surgeries that are non-urgent will help free beds for COVID-19 patients.

“Right now, along with the other hos- pitals in the state, we have seen a doubling of COVID-positive patients in the last several weeks,” Ward said. “No doubt, if this trend continues, not just our hospitals but every hospital in the state could be at capacity in a fairly short period of time.”

Dr. Harris Frankel of Nebraska Medicine said it began dialing back its daily surgical limits on Monday.

Both Frankel and Lydiatt emphasized that an elective procedure is not necessarily medically unnecessary.

“There are many medically necessary procedures, as Dr. Lydiatt alluded to, that we could safely delay without changing their outcome,” Frankel said.

Omaha metro hospitals were at an occupancy rate of 77% on Monday, the day of the press conference.

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