CONTACTKhalilah LeGrand, (402) 471-9313, firstname.lastname@example.org
LINCOLN – The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 171,033 as of Jan. 5. There have been 89 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the last seven days, for a total of 1,692. To date, a total of 114,249 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.
While still elevated, COVID-19 hospitalizations have stabilized with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 522 people a day over the last seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 528, 598 and 727 COVID-19 hospitalized patients.
The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 1,036, compared to 780 daily cases last week, 1,066 and 1,180 cases a day in recent weeks.
Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “Vaccines are very effective in protecting against transmission of COVID-19. They are vital to turning the tide in this pandemic, but we still have a ways to go. Basic precautions remain our best protection until we can begin mass vaccination.
"Now and in the coming months, it's critical that we do our best to limit opportunities for the virus to spread. Being consistent about prevention helps ensure our health care system remains available for everyone who needs it. The basic precautions of a wearing a mask, hand washing and staying home when you're sick are still our best defense against infection."
Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested. Nebraskans are reminded to wear a mask, watch your distance, wash hands often, and avoid the 3Cs – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces – every time you're away from home.
As of Tuesday, nearly 39,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been given to Nebraska hospital, health care and emergency medical services workers and those who will be vaccinating priority groups in the months to come. First doses have been given to roughly a third of the state's health care population. In addition, second doses began to be administered this week with nearly 850 doses given as of Tuesday.
Vaccinations for residents and staff of long-term care facilities began last week, with more than 100 on-site clinics held and additional outreach done by local health departments and community centers.
DHHS immunization leaders will hold a Facebook Live session tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 7 at 1 pm. CT to take questions on the vaccination effort. For those unable to join, the discussion will be archived and available on the video tab of the DHHS Facebook page.
More details on vaccine distribution for Phase 1B groups will be available soon. Phase 1B is projected to begin later this month as doses are made available. Phase 1B will begin with those aged 75 and older, followed by workers in critical industries who are unable to work remotely. Vaccinations for those 75 and older will be led by local health departments. Visit your local health department's website to see if they have an electronic signup or additional information.
The DHHS COVID-19 hotline is available for those with vaccine-related questions. Available by calling (402) 552-6645, or toll-free (833) 998-2275, the hotline is staffed each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT.
The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Neither vaccine contains a live virus and cannot give individuals COVID-19. Two vaccine doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.
The state is following the recommendations of CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Priority groups and timing projections remain tentative and will be adjusted as federal recommendations are issued and as vaccine shipments are scheduled.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available to the public and it's expected to be spring before sufficient supplies are available to begin mass vaccination.
DHHS has launched a COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard to share how Nebraska's vaccination effort is progressing over time.
The dashboard provides a daily total of doses given, as well as a breakdown of first and second doses given by age, gender, race, and ethnicity. The dashboard also reports the percent of the population aged 16 and older completing COVID-19 vaccination. Thus far, COVID-19 vaccines have only been approved for use in those age 16 and older.
The dashboard also includes a timeline for COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Nebraska, displaying the phases and priority groups as reflected in the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan.
A link to the COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard can be found at the top of the DHHS COVID-19 Cases dashboard, and is available at https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/ece0db09da4d4ca68252c3967aa1e9dd/page/page_1/.
The vaccination dashboard is updated with data from the prior day. Updates are posted each evening around 7 p.m. CT.
DHMs Remain for Indoor Gatherings
A five-phase series of Directed Health Measures (DHMs) remain in effect for the entire state. DHM restrictions are aimed at preserving hospital capacity for urgent medical care as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain elevated.
Less than 15% of hospital beds are needed for COVID-19 patients, and the state is in the blue threshold, which is the fourth of the five series of directives. Through Jan. 31, indoor gatherings are restricted to 75% of capacity.
An outline of the DHMs is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmadcuih3j2xlyd/Color-Coded%20%20Phase%20Comparison%2011.13.20.pdf?dl=0.
Testing continues to be crucial to limiting COVID-19. Free testing is available and anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or who is experiencing any symptoms is encouraged to schedule an appointment at one of the more than 60 Test Nebraska sites across the state.
COVID-19 symptoms can include a fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tiredness, muscle aches, headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
Visit Testnebraska.com, or TestNebraska.com/es for Spanish, to schedule an appointment. Those with questions about testing, or who need help completing the online assessment, can call the Test Nebraska hotline at (402) 207-9377.
DHHS will continue to share new information via its Coronavirus website, http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.