Coronavirus

An illustration of coronaviruses morphology created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With a limited number of COVID-19 test supplies, Memorial Community Hospital and Health System (MCH&HS) in Blair has temporarily stopped testing patients for the coronavirus prior to surgery or other procedures, the hospital posted on its Facebook page July 20.

"The increased number of tests being done has had an impact on supplies," MCH&HS spokesperson Molly Dahlgren said. "Many people who are asymptomatic are coming for tests, too, which has affected supplies."

The hospital's Facebook post stated that a very small number of patients have tested positive before surgery and procedures, and MCH&HS has the ability to protect patients and staff with PPE such as masks and gowns.

"We feel it's responsible to preserve the supplies for our sickest patients," the post said.

Dahlgren said, referencing press releases from Three Rivers Public Health Department, that Washington County has seen a steady increase of COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks.

As of Friday afternoon, Three Rivers COVID-19 dashboard on its website indicated there are 86 cases in Washington County with 2,083 total tests completed. Since July 4, there have been 36 cases in the county. According to the health department's dashboard, people ages 20 to 29 represent the age group with the most cases. Twenty people in that age group have tested positive.

There are 930 total cases in Three Rivers jurisdiction, which includes Washington, Dodge and Saunders counties, as of Friday afternoon. There were 737 cases in Dodge County and 107 in Saunders County.

Three Rivers community risk dial on its dashboard currently indicates Washington County is at a “moderate” risk of spread, as is the entire health district.

According to a Friday afternoon press release from Three Rivers, local hospitals reported 214 medical beds were available and 76 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of the 429 ventilators available to area hospitals, 131 were in use, including 11 for confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Dahlgren said MCH&HS' hospital inpatient numbers are included in Three Rivers report.

Dahlgren also said that people who are sick and have symptoms can still receive a test at MCH&HS.

"If they are sick and have symptoms, they can schedule an appointment to be seen and a provider will complete an assessment to determine what testing needs to be completed," she said.

For people who've been exposed to the coronavirus but do not have symptoms or feel sick, Dahlgren said MCH&HS recommends signing up to be tested through Test Nebraska. The next date Test Nebraska will be at MCH&HS is Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.

"MCH does offer this service during the week," Dahlgren said. "Please continue to follow our Facebook posts for dates and times that we offer this service. Keep in mind that a provider does not see the person during our Test Nebraska events and will need to follow up if their symptoms change or if they have questions about their results."

Dahlgren said MCH&HS continues to encourage people to follow guidelines issued by health professionals.

"We urge people to continue to follow the recommended guidelines — social distance, wear your masks, avoid large gatherings and wash your hands often and thoroughly," she said. "The CDC is an excellent resource for up to date information and can be accessed at www.cdc.gov."

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