Nebraska virus deaths could surge if current trends continue

A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The recent surge in coronavirus cases in Nebraska has prompted one expert to predict that the number of deaths in the state linked to the virus could nearly quadruple by the start of 2021.

Dr. James Lawler, a director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security in Omaha, said Friday that the state could have more than 2,500 COVID-19-related deaths by January if current trends continue without more stringent public health measures or better compliance with the measures already in place. The state has so far reported 652 deaths linked to the virus.

“If the outbreak continues at this pace, and we don’t implement much more stringent public health interventions — or at least if we don’t get people to adopt those behaviors, which ultimately is the most important thing — I think we could easily see three times the total we’ve seen so far,” he said to the Omaha World-Herald.

Nebraska reported 1,087 new virus cases Saturday to give the state a total of 70,732 cases so far. The rate of new cases in the state ranked sixth-highest in the nation Saturday.

And the number of people hospitalized with the virus set another new record at 612 Saturday. That is more than 2.5 times the spring peak of 232 set on May 27.

The rate of new cases per 100,000 Nebraska residents over the past two weeks registered 694.56 on Saturday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 795.71 new cases per day on Oct. 17 to 1,019.29 new cases per day on Saturday.

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Nebraska health providers, seniors to get vaccine first

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s health care providers and elderly and vulnerable residents will be first in line to get a coronavirus vaccination when it becomes available as early as this year, state officials said Monday.

Gov. Pete Ricketts and public health officials said they plan to give those groups top priority in their plans to distribute their limited share of the vaccine, once it’s developed and shipped.

The announcement came as Nebraska sees a record number of people hospitalized because of the coronavirus. The number of new virus-related hospitalizations jumped to a record-high 436 on Saturday, and the number on Sunday held fairly steady at 435, according to the state’s online tracking portal.

“We expect that vaccine supply will be limited early on, and initial doses will go to health care personnel and critical populations,” said Angie Ling, incident commander for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

States were required to submit their distribution plans to the federal government earlier this month as researchers close in on a vaccine to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Nebraska plans to dispense its vaccine supply in phases, using an existing state network of health care providers, local public health departments and hospitals, Ling said.

Initial doses will go to workers at hospitals, long-term care facilities, urgent care clinics and other health providers. Residents who are at least 65 years old and those with underlying health conditions such as cancer, kidney disease and obesity will also get priority. So will workers who are considered critical, although Ling said local health officials will determine who meets that definition.

Eventually, the vaccine will become available to the broader public. State officials said they don’t know how long it will take to vaccinate all residents who want the shot.

Ling said the state’s plan is a “living document” that could still be changed, but it’s designed to do the most good based on current scientific evidence. She said the federal government reviewed Nebraska’s plan and offered feedback but didn’t have to formally approve it.

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

Nebraska public health officials reported 582 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and have confirmed 63,797 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. The actual number is likely higher because some cases aren’t reported. State officials have confirmed 596 deaths so far.

Ricketts said he doesn’t plan to mandate that people in Nebraska get the vaccine. The vaccine will be free for people who receive it because the federal government has promised to cover the costs.

“My anticipation is there will be lot of education with regard to the vaccine, but it will be voluntary,” Ricketts said.

Before the pandemic, the state’s distribution network was designed to help get vaccinations to children. State officials said they chose the

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BioLife Plasma Services Announces Opening of First Plasma Collection Center in Nebraska

New center in Omaha opens to support an urgent patient need for human plasma

BioLife Plasma Services, part of the global biopharmaceutical company Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, today announced the opening of a new plasma collection center in Omaha to collect standard plasma from healthy donors.

“Now, more than ever, donors in the Omaha area have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the community through plasma donation, and we are deeply committed to making treatment options available for patients who rely on plasma-derived medications,” said Jacy Cizek, manager of the BioLife Plasma Services Omaha center. “Plasma is a lifeline for thousands of people with rare, chronic and complex diseases, and we are excited to open the first BioLife plasma collection center in Nebraska.”

Through a simple, low-risk process called plasmapheresis, plasma is separated from the blood and the blood elements are returned back into the donor’s body. Screened plasma collected from healthy individuals is processed into a wide variety of therapeutics for people around the world with rare, life-threatening diseases, such as immunodeficiency disorders, hemophilia and hereditary angioedema.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BioLife Plasma Services has implemented additional screening and safety measures in line with public health guidance to help guarantee the safety and health of donors and employees, as well as the safety of the collected plasma. All donors will need to wear a mask or other cloth face covering inside a BioLife Plasma center.

Prospective donors can make online appointments to visit the Omaha center (275 N. 78th St., Omaha, NE 68114), which opens on Saturday, October 24. They must pass a physical examination at their first visit and are screened at each visit to ensure they meet eligibility criteria. All donors are compensated for their time and commitment.

The Omaha center is approximately 11,330 square feet, and the state-of-the-art facility provides access to free Wi-Fi and a clean, professional, smoke-free environment. The new center is the first BioLife center to open in Nebraska and expects to bring more than 50 new jobs to the community.

To learn more about BioLife Plasma Services, the donation process, and to schedule an appointment, please visit the BioLife website.

About Plasma

Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood that can be easily replaced by the body. Plasma makes up more than half of whole blood and consists primarily of water and proteins. During plasma donation, a donor’s blood is collected into an automated device that separates the plasma from the other whole blood components, including red and white blood cells and platelets. While the plasma is collected, the other blood components are returned to the donor. Each donation procedure uses sterile and disposable collection materials. The body quickly replaces the plasma removed during the donation process, which allows healthy individuals to donate as often as twice in a seven-day period, with at least one day between donations.

About BioLife Plasma Services

BioLife Plasma Services is an industry leader in the collection of high-quality

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