Ricketts: state monitoring hospital capacity, planning on staffing

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks Wednesday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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October 14, 2020 - 2:24pm

Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday the state is monitoring an increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19 and is working with hospitals on plans to deal with staffing shortages.


Ricketts has consistently said a goal in dealing with the pandemic is to make sure not to overwhelm the state’s health care system, so people can have hospital beds, intensive care beds and ventilators if they need them. Wednesday, he acknowledged more people are needing them.

“We are looking at 26 percent of our hospital beds are available. Twenty four percent of our ICU beds are available. And 76 percent of our ventilators are available. We are seeing increased hospitalizations. I think we were up to 315 as of last night. We continue to monitor that situation. Dr. Anthone is on the phone daily with all the different hospital systems and we’re going to continue to monitor that as we go forward,” Ricketts said. Dr. Gary Anthone is Nebraska’s chief medical officer.

Ricketts said hospitalizations for COVID-19 account for about 8 percent of total hospitalizations in the state. In recent days, Nebraska hospital officials have said rather than physical space, staffing to take care of patients could be a bottleneck. Ricketts said the state is working with hospitals on how to tackle that problem. But he said he’s not ready to disclose any details.

“We are looking at how we can provide additional resources to those hospitals, but I’d say just stay tuned. We’re not prepared to make that announcement quite yet,” he said.

On a related subject, the governor said he thinks Halloween trick-or-treating can still be done, and public health officials are working on recommendations for how it can be done safely.   

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