May 20, 2020 7:13 PM

7 new virus deaths in Nebraska include 5 at nursing home

Posted May 20, 2020 7:13 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Seven more people have died from the coronavirus in Nebraska, including five residents at a long-term care facility in Omaha, officials said Wednesday.

The residents lived at the Life Care Center of Elkhorn, a facility that has been struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak among employees and the seniors they serve.

Long-term care facilities such as nursing homes are among the hardest-hit venues in Nebraska. On Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the facilities have been linked to at least 62 of the state's 132 coronavirus deaths. He said 89 facilities have reported cases of the virus among residents, employees or both.

The Life Care Center of Elkhorn said in a statement that residents who test positive were immediately separated into their own area of the building.

"We are doing everything we can to provide the best care for residents and to safeguard staff," the statement said.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported 10,846 confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday night. More than 72,300 people have been tested.

The number of new patients has been trending downward since a peak of 677 new cases on May 7, but public health officials say it's important to continue taking precautions such as social distancing.

Nebraska's hospital capacity for treating patients with the virus is fairly stable. The state's hospitals report that 44% of their beds, 38% of their intensive care unit beds and 78% of their ventilators are available for use if needed.

For some infected people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness or death. But for most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks.