Doctor: I'm Worried About 'Gradual Buildup' Shrinking Hospital Capacity Over Time

May 25, 2020, 4:45 p.m. ·

(NET Nebraska)

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As Douglas County prepares to loosen restrictions even further in one week, a top doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center warns hospitals are slowly filling up.

Dr. Angela Hewlett is Medical Director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. She says recent decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases is encouraging, but she’s still concerned.

"When [patients] go on a ventilator they stay on for a long period of time, typically three weeks, four weeks, sometimes longer," said Dr. Hewlett on the latest episode of Speaking of Nebraska. "That’s the thing I’m worried about more. It’s not a big surge or an influx, it’s more of this gradual building that we’ve been seeing over the last couple weeks. And I anticipate that may continue.”

State officials say about 20% of the intensive care unit beds in the Omaha area are available, and about 30% of general hospital beds are open.

Douglas County will enter “phase two” of re-opening on June 1, along with all but four other Nebraska counties. Bars will be allowed to partially re-open and the limit on most public gatherings will be increased to 25 people.

Speaking of Nebraska: A COVID-19 Town Hall With Gov. Ricketts