OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An 11th resident at a west Omaha nursing home ravaged by the coronavirus has died from COVID-19, but a state health official said Thursday that the number of new cases at long-term care facilities is declining.
The Life Care Center of Elkhorn in Omaha said its latest death occurred Monday when a hospice patient succumbed to the virus. So far, 69 residents and 30 workers at the center have tested positive for COVID-19. The facility has been battling an outbreak of the virus since April.
News of the center's latest death comes as state officials reported four new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 195. An online coronavirus tracker for the state also shows 142 new cases of the virus were reported on Wednesday, putting the state’s total cases at more than 16,000.
Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska's chief medical officer, said 126 long-term care facilities have seen a positive case from either a resident or employee since the pandemic began, but the number of new cases “seems to be slowing down somewhat."
Anthone said 16 facilities in the last two weeks have reported a new case. Overall, he said 533 long-term care residents and 440 staff members are known to have contracted the virus. Of those cases, 98 people have died.
Nearly 128,000 people in Nebraska have been tested, and hospital capacity has declined slightly in recent days, with 41% of hospital beds, 41% of intensive care unit beds and 77% of ventilators available for use.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.
The state's new cases come as coronavirus cases are rising in nearly half the U.S. states. Despite the rising numbers, most states — including Nebraska — are rolling back restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus.