Dr. Faucci, the CDC, and other public health experts have been telling citizens to brace for the worst this fall for many months now. Residents in rural areas were told to expect especially high numbers. In response, some have been following social distancing protocols, hosting family events remotely or outside, and working to do their part. Unfortunately, there have been just as many people who continue to spread misinformation about the virus, calling it a hoax or encouraging others to avoid wearing masks. Covid-19 infection rates have exploded in Nebraska in recent days, with hospitalization for symptoms up nearly 40 percent. Healthcare workers, government officials, and residents are on high alert, looking for the best way to prevent the potential worst.
The Spread of Coronavirus Across the Nation
At first, coronavirus was, by and large, restricted to the most populous regions. As people in Nebraska watched the coronavirus epidemic rage throughout New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington, very few could even name a person in their life who had taken a Covid-19 test. Through television screens, residents of Nebraska and neighboring states read about the number of positive infections, deaths, and widespread shutdowns. Though it was alarming and depressing news, they were almost totally insulated from the effects of coronavirus, at least on a personal level. Then, new cases start popping up, and they were getting closer and closer to home. Over the summer, people traveled and visited, and it was no longer a case of coronavirus not personally impacting you.
Nebraska at a Glance
During the height of it all, when states were issuing shutdowns and stay-at-home orders out of an abundance of caution, officials in Nebraska were very reluctant to follow suit. The governor of Nebraska did urge residents to stay home for a period of time, but there was no enforcement of an official stay-at-home order, nor were there rules for mask wearing put in place. Scientists warned Nebraska officials that the state was encouraging all of the perfect conditions for a devasting outbreak. And now, it looks like the worst yet is hitting Nebraska. Hospitals are reaching capacity, and ventilators are starting to become hard to come by. As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, hospitals are bracing for even higher numbers to emerge.
Healthcare Workers Prepared to Respond in Nebraska
While there has been much done to increase the number of healthcare professionals working in the state of Nebraska, the numbers are still quite troubling. As of 2018, there were still more than 10 counties in Nebraska that had no primary healthcare doctors present. This means that many of Nebraska's nearly 2 million residents had to drive, perhaps more than a couple of hundred miles, in order to see their primary care physicians. That is if they bothered to see one at all. For some in Nebraska, medical care is still only sought out on an at-need basis. In other words, preventative healthcare just isn't always seen as a necessity. There is growing interest in enrolling in DNP family nurse practitioner programs online in Nebraska. As colleges in Nebraska are mainly in the major cities, rural students appreciate having remote educational options.
Not Setup to Handle a Steep Uptick in Coronavirus Hospitalizations
Being able to handle a big increase in coronavirus cases isn't limited to having a large number of medical professionals. It isn't restricted to the number of hospital beds available, access to fancy exploratory drugs, or even the number of ventilators. Healthcare workers have to be experienced, and they have to be following a plan for taking on a pandemic of this scale. As Nebraska has been working to raise the standard for medical care for local residents, they just were not fully prepared to deal with a global pandemic. The good news is that they have had many months to brainstorm and come up with plans for doing the very best they can with what they have, as well as work with doctors in neighboring states.
What Happens Next?
For now, all medical professionals in Nebraska are working to deal with the virus pre-emptively. They know that local walk-in clinics and larger hospitals will become hot zones first, as the total ratio of healthcare professionals to Nebraska residents is unbalanced. Hospitals may set up triage centers outside to help prevent infecting patients coming for treatment unrelated to coronavirus. In a nutshell, medical professionals in the state of Nebraska are going to have to look at how hospitals in areas already ravaged by the disease got the numbers under control. They are going to need a lot of help from government officials in order to get testing, isolation, and treatment under control.
Local Government Coronavirus Response Contingency Plans
As the latest round of statistics on coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have shown, government officials in Nebraska are aware that something has to be done immediately. Some counties have begun to shut down, electing to keep citizens safer by restricting their movements rather than wait for guidance from the state or federal government. More parents are pulling their children out of school, making use of homeschooling options. Nebraska may be a largely rural state, but residents are trying their best to limit interactions even more. There is going to have to be a major increase in coronavirus testing in Nebraska, but there is only so much that can be done without the support of the federal government by way of funding.
There is not an official vaccine for coronavirus. Therefore, it will still be many months after one is announced before the public can expect the vaccine to become widely administered. Residents of Nebraska and all other states are likely going to be dealing with wave after wave of infections, and they can only stave them off by following social distancing and personal hygiene protocols. There will be a day where you can feel safe giving your friends a hug or not wearing a mask in public places, but now is not the time. Consider what's going on in Nebraska and decide if taking any unnecessary risk is worth the chance of spreading this deadly disease.