Help for Norfolk Community and Faith Regional Health Services

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by jgleaso1  3/18/2020 10:10:41 AM -- 

Norfolk may not have any cases yet, but that doesn’t mean we won’t. Our beloved hospital, Faith Regional, could be in for some serious trouble. They could go from having a total of 50 beds available to admitting 50 patients every day.


Norfolk, Nebraska, has roughly 25,000 people. As of March 18, there are no reported cases of Covid-19 in our community. Let's say there are actually 10 cases out there (a very low estimate). Here are a few scenarios that we should consider.

Since cases double every 3 days, in 2 weeks, that's 320 cases. In a month, we'll have 10,240 cases (30% of the Norfolk population). Northeast Nebraska has a low population density and perhaps that will slow down the rate of increase. For this case, let’s assume that cases double every 4 days. That would mean that we hit those same numbers a week later.

Possible Actual Cases in Norfolk of COVID-19

It has been estimated that the percent of cases that need hospitalization is somewhere around 15%1. It generally takes 2-3 weeks from the onset of symptoms until hospitalization might be sought. Using the first listed rate of a 3-day doubling time, that's 48 hospital beds needed in 3 weeks, 192 beds needed in 4 weeks, and a total of 1,536 beds needed in a little more than a month.

Faith Regional has 131 licensed beds (according to their 2017 Annual Report)2. On average, 65% of beds are already taken (national average)3. That leaves around 45 beds available at any given point. These are not the number of ICU beds available, and we know that about 40% of hospitalizations have needed the ICU4. This also doesn't take into account our surrounding communities (see the next article for information on our surrounding counties). By the end of the month, our hospital could be admitting 50 people per day.

These are simplified models that let us know about what could happen if we do nothing to stop the spread of the virus. If we are diligent about washing our hands, if we practice social distancing and keep at least 6 feet away from others, we have a chance to slow the rate of infection. If we go home for a couple of months, we could save hundreds of lives in our community.

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