CONTACTKhalilah LeGrand, (402) 471-9313, firstname.lastname@example.org
LINCOLN – The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 163,781 as of Dec. 29. There have been 82 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the last seven days, for a total of 1,603. To date, a total of 105,135 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to come down from recent highs, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 528 people a day over the last seven days, versus averages of 598, 727 and 805 COVID-19 patients in prior weeks.
The daily average of new positive cases has declined in the last week with a daily average of 780 cases, compared to 1,066 daily cases last week, and 1,180 and 1,773 cases a day in recent weeks.
Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “We're still in a window where precautions are our best defense against infection. Vaccinations are vital to protecting the health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients, but it will take a second dose to reach full effectiveness. So we all need to be mindful of limiting opportunities for the virus to spread in our daily interactions. Staying home if we're sick and getting a test helps protect our loved ones and our friends, and it helps protect our health care community."
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
If you are planning to gather over the holiday, getting a COVID-19 test first can help protect someone who might be vulnerable to COVID-19.
Dr. Anthone said, “Testing appointments are available so we encourage anyone with symptoms and anyone traveling or still planning to see extended family or friends during the New Year's holiday to consider getting tested."
Those who host or attend a gathering with people from outside their household are encouraged to remain vigilant in practicing social distancing and to self-monitor for symptoms.
Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested. Everyone is encouraged to avoid the three Cs – crowded places, close contact and confined spaces.
As of this morning, more than 27,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have 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.
In addition, on-site vaccinations for residents and staff of long-term care facilities are beginning this week. Facilities have scheduled more than 130 clinics for the coming weeks.
Additional vaccine shipments were delayed due to weather moving through the region, but are expected to arrive by the end of the week.
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's vaccine distribution will follow the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations and will make adjustments as needed.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available to the public. The CDC has not announced a date, but it's expected to be spring before sufficient supplies are available to begin mass vaccination. The Nebraska Immunization Program and statewide partners continue their planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.
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.
Test Nebraska, COVID-19 Hotline Holiday Hours
Some test sites are closed today due to inclement weather. Those registered should check text and email messages in the event of a schedule change.
Most Test Nebraska sites will be open on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and there will be no interruption in lab services over the holiday.
Testing continues to be crucial to limiting COVID-19. Free testing is available for those wanting one. 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.
Nebraskans seeking information or needing help with general questions can call the DHHS COVID-19 hotline at (402) 552-6645, or toll-free (833) 998-2275. The hotline will be closed Thursday and Friday, Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, and re-open on Saturday, Jan. 2 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT.
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.