Omaha-area impacts to ending the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Now that the COVID-19 public health emergency is ending, Douglas County health officials are adapting.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - COVID numbers in Douglas County are down, but people are still getting sick and dying from the virus.

The latest COVID numbers from Douglas County Health.

The Douglas County Health Department will continue to monitor the situation using different sources.

“We monitor the number of patients in the hospital who have COVID, who are on ventilators,” said Justin Frederick with DCHD. “We’re also using wastewater now to track viral concentration in the wastewater which is a good predictor of hospitalizations and cases.”

That information will still be available on DCHD’s website.

Right now, the county has free COVID test kits available -- but not for long.

“They’re still available through the federal government through the end of the month, and after that, again, those who are uninsured will still be able to receive those tests at no charge,” Frederick said. “Those of us who have private insurance, there will be a charge for those.”

The county will also continue to offer free vaccines through early Fall for those uninsured.

“After that, those who are uninsured, vaccines will still be available for them through a bridge program through the federal government,” he said.

Amy Tobias is with Kubat Pharmacy and says right now, government guidance isn’t clear.

“There’s going to be a lot of changes over the next month or so that governments have taken away the emergency,” she said. “So insurance (providers) aren’t required to cover COVID tests. We still have them available and would like to get them to people who need them, and demand for that is still high.”

With the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency expiring, many health departments are adapting to meet the needs of the community.

Tobias says if questions arise about COVID care and costs, it might be a good idea to check with your pharmacist.

“Call your pharmacy, ask questions,” Tobias said. “The doctor’s offices may not know as much, but the pharmacy will be the first line for whether or not things will be covered. We can get more information to them.”

Health department officials say the end of the emergency doesn’t necessarily mean the pandemic is over.

DCHD says for those who are privately insured, the COVID-19 vaccine is a recommended vaccine and should be covered by most carriers. COVID information can still be accessed on the DCHD’s website.