DHHS COVID-19 Weekly Update

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3/10/2021

Khalilah LeGrand, (402) 471-9313, 



LINCOLN – As of Tuesday, the latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 203,587; as a reminder, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed one year ago, March 6, 2020. 

To date, a total of 157,722​ Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered. The number of COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska is 2,120 this week.

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline in the last week, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 139 COVID-19 patients a day over the last seven days. Daily averages in prior weeks were 156, 173, and 200 COVID-19 patients.

The daily average of new positive cases in the last week currently stands at 283, compared to 261 daily cases last week. Averages for positive cases are now based on test dates instead of lab reporting dates, which provides a more precise view of COVID-19 cases. Data from previous days is updated as lab results are received.

Feb. 16
Feb. 23
M​arch 2
​March 9

Total positive cases197,746
Current hospitalizations 185
Total deaths2,018

​Nebraskans are reminded that basic precautions are the best defense against COVID-19 while vaccine supplies are limited. You can be #BigRedResponsible by wearing a mask. Additionally, watching your distance, washing hands often, staying home when you're sick, and avoiding the 3Cs – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces – remain critical to preventing infection and controlling spread.  Officials continue to urge Nebraskans to be tested if they are exposed or develop COVID symptoms.  Anyone who is not fully vaccinated and may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine.

Last week, the state confirmed the presence of two new variant strains: the B.1.1.7 variant that was originally identified in the United Kingdom, and the B.1.429 variant that first surfaced in California.  All available vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and the new Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine, appear to be effective against these variants. To date, 7 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant and 16 cases of the B1.429 variant have been identified in Nebraska.

Nebraskans are encouraged to Finish Strong and do their part to end the pandemic and register for the vaccine. Those registered will be alerted when a vaccine is available in their priority group and health district. There is a Spanish translation site for the vaccine portal on the website; users can access this by selecting Español from the language drop-down menu at the top-right side of the page. Be safe. Get vaccinated.  Finish Strong!

COVID-19 Testing

Testing continues to be crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19; over 978,000 Nebraskans have been tested in the state to date.  Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, anyone experiencing any symptoms, those planning to travel, or those 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. 

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.


Vaccine Update

All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups, which are those 65+ in age.  Nebraska's 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for these groups. Vaccination will expand to other 1B priority groups as supplies allow, such as 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.

Today the state announced that many rural locations are nearing the end of this 1B phase. As the prioritization has changed with an age-based focus, officials are aware that medical conditions can still pose a significant impact to those who contract COVID-19. As Nebraska moves into Phase 2A, in the near future, up to 10% of the weekly allocation will be allotted for high-risk medical conditions, regardless of age. The medical community will make the decision of who will be vaccinated with these doses.  The additional 90% will go to those aged 50-59 years of age.

To date, 125,835 doses have been received through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in Nebraska.  These doses are distributed throughout the state at sites eligible to vaccinate Nebraskans 65 years and older. 

This week, Nebraska is receiving 41,800 first doses of both Pfizer and Moderna combined, and 40,650 second doses of the same.  DHHS is allocating these 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. There will be no additional vaccine from Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals this week, as the entire quantity that was allocated for March arrived last week. To date, 12% of the population having received two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

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 their first dose are reminded to keep their vaccination record card in a safe place and take it to their second dose appointment.

Nebraskans are reminded a second vaccine dose is needed to complete vaccination (except in the case of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine), 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. Two doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine approved for those 18 and older. 

A phase three clinical trial showed the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceutical vaccine had 85% efficacy in the U.S. at preventing any severity of COVID-19 (while being studied in regions with new variant strains of COVID-19), and only requires one dose. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Each of these three authorized COVID-19 vaccines had 100% efficacy against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. Since each of these COVID-19 vaccines work extremely well against the virus, individuals should feel confident they are reducing their risk when they choose to vaccinate. Moreover, every person who gets vaccinated is doing their part to help reduce spread and put an end to this global pandemic.  

Answers to these and other questions are available on the COVID-19 Vaccine Information page and are available in several languages.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it's expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.

The CDC considers a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final second dose, or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine, two weeks after their single dose.  Officials also said people who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19 case and may opt out of COVID-19 testing if they do not experience any symptoms.


Vaccine Outreach

DHHS continues to share new information via the Coronavirus website, as well as Facebook and Twitter and at virtual town halls. Each week, members of the DHHS team hold a mid-day Facebook Live session to discuss vaccine-related and pandemic-related topics.

The Division of Public Health will discuss COVID-19 variant strains and the new CDC guidelines at 12 pm CST on Thursday, March 11. For those unable to watch live, all sessions are archived and available on the video tab of the DHHS Facebook page and DHHS's website.

DHHS's next online Town Hall will be held on Saturday, March 13 at 5 pm with the Multicultural Coalition in Grand Island. It will be the first town hall spoken in Spanish.

The panelists are Joseline Reyna, director of communications for the Multicultural Coalition; Dr. Albert Solache, a family medicine doctor; Betty Frausto, lead client advocate for the Multicultural Coalition, and Josie Rodriguez, administrator for the Office of Health Disparities & Health Equity at Nebraska DHHS. To join, use this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/268306508146551/


Vaccine Dashboard

As of Tuesday, more than 552,397 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups throughout Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with more than 90,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered just last week.  Additionally, as of Sunday over 178,665 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 12% of Nebraskans aged 16 years of age and older.

To follow Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination progress, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard.

The DHHS data team in its continued efforts to provide accurate and timely information made several notable changes to the COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard. Changes are as follows:

  • On the “Overview" tab, the Federal Retail and Long Term Care Vaccination Program header now reads “Federal Pharmacy Vaccine Programs" as all programs (long-term care, retail pharmacy, etc.) are now be included.
  • The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals' single dose vaccine is included in first dose administered and total allocations calculation.
  • The “About the Data" tab has updated definitions to ensure complete understanding of what is included under each header on the dashboard.
  • An enhancement to the “Map" tab includes the percentage of individuals that are fully vaccinated in each respective health district.


Vaccine Registration

Nebraskans can register online to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination is available in their area, and a Spanish translation of the site is now available. Available at Vaccinate.Ne.Gov, users should select Español from the language drop-down menu at the top-right side of the page.

As of March 8, more than 250,000 Nebraskans have registered for the vaccine.

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.

The state continues to add innovative technology to support the fight against COVID-19.  New selection and scheduling software is being implemented with providers across the state.  Registrants will be selected according the state priority phases for their turn to get the vaccine.  Those selected will get an email with a unique personalized link that allows them to select a vaccine clinic within their local public health department area and an appointment time at that clinic.  After making their appointment, they will receive a confirmation email with a QR code that can be used to speed the check-in process at the vaccination clinic.

Those who entered a friend's email will have their emails sent to that friend's email address where they can again be assisted, this time to make their appointment.  If the state's email address was used in your registration, either the state or your local public health department will contact you to help you make your appointment.

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.


Directed Health Measures

As vaccination continues, Directed Health Measures (DHMs) have been updated to provide clarity as more Nebraskans complete vaccination and recover from COVID-19.

Those 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.

In addition, a five-phase series of DHMs aimed at preserving hospital capacity for urgent medical care remains 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. Most weeks, members of the DHHS Immunization team hold a mid-day Facebook Live session to discuss vaccine-related topics and provide an update on vaccine distribution in Nebraska. All sessions are archived and available on the video tab of the DHHS Facebook page.

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.

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