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LINCOLN – The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 194,632 as of Feb. 9. There have been 55 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the last seven days, for a total of 1,986. To date, a total of 141,239 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.
COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline in the last week, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 265 COVID-19 patients a day over the last seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 322, 402, and 444 COVID-19 patients.
The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 294, compared to 543 daily cases last week, and 564 and 744 cases a day in recent weeks. Averages for positive cases are now based on test dates instead of lab reporting date, which provides a more precise view of COVID-19 cases. Data from previous days is updated as lab results are received.
Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “We are still in the early days of this vaccination effort and so it's critical we continue to limit virus spread. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home when you're sick are our best defense against COVID-19."
Anyone who has not completed vaccination and may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested.
Nebraskans can be #BigRedResponsible by wearing a mask. Additionally, watching your distance, washing hands often, staying home when you're sick, and avoiding the 3C's – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces – are still critical to limiting infection.
All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups.
Phase 1B includes several priority groups. Right now, local health departments are offering vaccine to Nebraskans 65 and older. This phase also includes people 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.
Nebraska is receiving 31,625 first doses this week, including 14,625 Pfizer and 17,000 Moderna doses. This includes 2,925 Pfizer doses released from the Federal Pharmacy Program that had been reserved for long-term care vaccinations. The remaining 8,775 doses will be released over the next two weeks and be distributed among local health departments for Phase 1B first dose vaccinations.
Second dose shipments scheduled for this week total 23,500.
A number of Nebraska pharmacies are scheduled to receive their first shipment of vaccine doses at the end of this week as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Pharmacies participating in the program will receive a total of 5,700 first doses and will be able to vaccinate those 65 and older.
Nebraskans are cautioned that retail pharmacy doses will be very limited for some time.
DHHS is allocating doses via a vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.
Nebraska's 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.
Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are being given to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.
Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, others may experience headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days.
Those receiving a first dose are reminded a second dose is needed to complete vaccination, which research shows provides the best protection against COVID-19 symptoms and potential complications.
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. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Two doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine approved for those 18 and older.
DHHS is compiling frequently asked questions on COVID-19 vaccines, such as:
For answers to these and other questions, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.
COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it's expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.
The state is taking recommendations of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) into consideration. Priority groups and timing projections remain tentative and will be adjusted as federal recommendations are issued and as vaccine shipments are scheduled.
DHHS CEO Dannette Smith and medical experts will hold the first in a series of online town hall events to reach out to the state's African American community this evening, Wednesday, Feb. 10. Beginning at 7 p.m., the event is a forum to discuss the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and hear from the community.
The event is held in partnership with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Lincoln. Those interested in joining are invited to use this Zoom link and enter passcode 148199.
DHHS immunization leaders will hold a Facebook Live session tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 11 at 12:05 p.m. CT to provide an update on the vaccination effort and answer questions. For those unable to join, the discussion will be archived and available on the video tab of the DHHS Facebook page, along with past events.
DHHS has a website available to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination is available in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, nearly 175,250 registrations have been received so far.
Those 65 and older who have registered for vaccination with their local health department do not need to register a second time using the state site. Local health departments and DHHS are working to migrate all registrations.
Those who are 18 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition and live outside of Lancaster County are asked to register using the state site to help ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B. Residents of Lancaster County should register using the local health department's online registration option.
Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed, and the DHHS Information line can assist those with limited technology, language or Internet access, and is available by calling (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275.
A Spanish version of the website is in development and will be available next week.
As of Tuesday, more than 246,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups. More than 74,000 or 5% of Nebraskans 16 or older have completed vaccination.
This week the dashboard was updated to better report the status of vaccine distribution efforts in the state. The overview tab reports doses allocated by DHHS and to Nebraska's local health departments and doses allocated to the CDC's Federal Pharmacy Program, which contracted pharmacy staff to administer doses at long-term care facilities across the state.
The overview tab also reports on vaccine uptake with the number and percentage of first and second doses administered for each program, and a summary of all doses received in the state to date.
The total number of first and second dose vaccinations given each day in Nebraska is visible on the daily vaccinations tab. Allocation totals are updated weekly, and other numbers are updated each morning with data from the prior day.
To follow Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination progress, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard.
Testing continues to be crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, anyone experiencing any symptoms, those planning to travel, or those who are returning from travel are encouraged to schedule a COVID-19 test.
Free testing is available at more than 60 Test Nebraska sites across the state.
Locations in Blair, McCook, Ogallala, and Ord are closed today due to extreme winter temperatures, and testing sites in Broken Bow and Chadron will be closed on Friday, Feb. 12. Those registered for testing will be updated via text or email in the event of a schedule change.
COVID-19 symptoms can include a fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tiredness, muscle aches, headache, 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.
Directed Health Measures
With the upcoming launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy program in Nebraska, the state is updating Directed Health Measures (DHMs) to help ensure participating pharmacies work with their respective local health department as part of the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
In addition, Nebraskans who have received both COVID-19 vaccine doses are not required to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19. Individuals should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and are required to wear a mask when in public. Anyone who later develops symptoms must then quarantine at home.
Those who have recovered from coronavirus within the last three months are not required to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19. Wearing a mask is encouraged but not required.
Those who have recovered from coronavirus longer than three months ago are required to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
A five-phase series of DHMs aimed at preserving hospital capacity for urgent medical care is in effect for the entire state. Currently less than 10% of hospital beds are needed for COVID-19 patients.
The state is in the green phase, which removes capacity restrictions for indoor gatherings but it's recommended that Nebraskans continue following guidance to reduce virus transmission. Organizers of events for 500 or more people, or 1,000 people in Douglas County, are required to receive approval from their local health department. Capacity restrictions remain in place for Lancaster County.
An outline of DHMs tied to Nebraska's COVID-19 hospitalization rate is available here.
DHHS continues to share new information via its Coronavirus website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the DHHS COVID-19 information line is available to answer questions at (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275. The line is staffed seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT.