Oct 05, 2020 10:44 PM

Nebraska virus hospitalizations hit new high over weekend

Posted Oct 05, 2020 10:44 PM

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The number of deaths linked to the coronavirus has topped 500 in Nebraska, and more people are hospitalized with the virus than ever before.

The state reported four new deaths and 404 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday to give Nebraska 501 deaths and 47,807 cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

The number of hospitalizations for the virus jumped to 249 on Saturday and remained at that level on Sunday. Previously, the number of people being treated in Nebraska hospitals peaked at 232 on May 27, according to the state's online virus tracker.

But even with the high number of hospitalizations, Nebraska said 33% of the state's intensive care beds and 78% of the ventilators remained available.

Last month, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts eliminated nearly all of the state's social-distancing restrictions in favor of voluntary guidelines. Ricketts has said the hospital statistics show the state's medical facilities have not been overwhelmed with virus cases.

On Monday, Ricketts said his administration was working daily with hospitals throughout Nebraska to ensure that they don't fill beyond their capacity. But he said he doesn't foresee and big changes to the state's approach to the pandemic.

"We're always willing to make adjustments to our plans based upon conditions," he said. "Right now, we're continuing to manage it."

Nebraska continues to report a high rate of virus cases. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 11.86% on Sept. 20 to 13.49% on Sunday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.