Nebraska and UNMC are collaborating to develop an estimate of how bad the coronavirus could get in the Cornhusker State and whether Nebraska has sufficient capacity to handle the surge.
Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said UNMC is adapting a model developed by the University of Washington. The Washington model looked at nationwide hospital capacity. UNMC will apply Nebraska data to its model, which should provide a better sense of the state’s situation, Khan said Thursday evening at a coronavirus town hall on Nebraska Educational Television.
Khan was joined by Gov. Pete Ricketts and John Albin, Nebraska’s commissioner of labor.
For now, it’s expected that Nebraska’s cases will peak in two to three weeks and then fall off into June, Khan said.
A viewer asked Ricketts if Nebraska would share any excess medical supplies with hard-hit states like New York. The basis for the question was the Washington model, which indicated that Nebraska may not need all of its resources.
In response, Ricketts said the model doesn’t project much of a cushion.
“There is no margin for error,” Ricketts said. “We don’t have the insight to understand how close we’re going to get to that line.”
Khan, who is internationally recognized for his work in infectious diseases, said he recommends that everyone wear masks in public.
Ricketts said Nebraska has received about half of its allotment of the nation’s strategic reserve of medical equipment and has begun distributing supplies to rural Nebraska. Khan said now is the time for rural and urban hospitals to figure out how they’re going to work together to get through the care and transportation of the ill.
In the meantime, Khan and Ricketts repeated that Nebraskans’ own behavior will determine how much the virus is held at bay.