DHHS Friday COVID-19 Update

News Release
For Immediate Release: 7/17/2020

Leah Bucco-White, Communications, (402) 309-4157,

Khalilah LeGrand, Communications, (402) 853-1320,

Continued preventive measures critical to mitigate spread, More testing sites/increased access

LINCOLN – The state case total, as of 5:45 p.m. CT today, is 22,361, an increase of 1,584 from last Friday. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Dashboard data also shows an increase in positive cases being reported this week over last week. There were 15 new COVID-19-related deaths in the state, for a total of 301. In addition, 16,665 Nebraskans diagnosed with COVID-19 have since recovered.

DHHS continues to stress the importance of cloth face coverings, hand washing and social distancing to help protect against COVID-19 transmission.

“Every Nebraskan is playing a role in this response and progress is dependent on a shared responsibility to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. COVID-19 is affecting people in different ways and you may not know who may be more vulnerable around you. It's important to take precautions to limit the spread," said Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS.

Prevention is key to making activities outside the home as safe as possible. When going out, know your risk. The CDC recommends considering how close you'll be to others and for how long. Review CDC recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html.

Nebraska Medicine also offers information related to coronavirus risk levels by activity - https://www.nebraskamed.com/COVID/7-steps-to-identify-risky-covid-19-situations?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MIM07012020.

TestNebraska update

Testing provides important information that can help protect Nebraskans and slow the spread of the virus.  Any Nebraska resident who needs a test should complete the online assessment at TestNebraska.com or Testnebraska/es for Spanish, and schedule a visit to their nearest testing site to receive a test. TestNebraska locations, dates and times for the week of July 20 are listed at TestNebraska.com and TestNebraska/es.

TestNebraska continues to add testing sites and increase access to testing. The Governor's Office and DHHS are partnering with hospitals across the state to provide testing through TestNebraska. TestNebraska doubled the number of days for testing in Lincoln this week and is planning to expand slots. Time slots also increased significantly in Omaha this week and a second TestNebraska location is expected to be announced soon.   

Resources for federally qualified health centers' COVID-19 response

DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith announced new resources that the State will provide to help its federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in their ongoing response to the pandemic.

Over the last three months, Nebraska's federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) have shown that they play a critical role in addressing access to care for Nebraska's most vulnerable citizens.

Health centers are a statewide system providing primary medical, dental, and behavioral health care for all, regardless of insurance status, ability to pay, primary language spoken, or cultural background.

Earlier this summer, DHHS received a proposal and budget request from the Health Center Association of Nebraska (HCAN) on behalf of its member FQHCs for $5 million.  This funding has been awarded by the State and will be used in the following ways:

  • Enhancing case management for health center patients
    • Each of the FQHCs will expand capacity at their call centers, which serve as the first stop for many patients.  Call center staff provide education, answer questions, schedule appointments, and provide assistance as patients seek to be tested.
    • Each of the FQHCs also employ community health workers, who provide referrals, triage patients, contact patients who have tested positive, provide guidance to patients to ensure they self-isolate as appropriate, and provide assistance via telehealth to patients managing chronic diseases.  The funds will support increasing this vital work.
  • Expanding testing and contact tracing
    • With additional funding, FQHCs will be able to add additional staff and supplies in order to increase testing and contact tracing capacity.
  • Stabilizing health center infrastructure
    • Nebraska's FQHCs currently serve just over 115,000 patients.  In recent years, they have seen roughly 10-12% annual growth in the number of patients served, and they expect this year to be no exception.

New Coronavirus Nebraska website

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a new website dedicated to updates on state plans for coronavirus relief funding and key public health and virus testing information.

Available at coronavirus.nebraska.gov, the site will share information on the disbursement of virus response funds.

Guidance and additional resources can be found on the DHHS website - dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and CDC's website – https://www.cdc.gov/covid19 .

Nebraskans can call the DHHS COVID-19 information hotline at (402) 552-6645 or toll-free (833) 998-2275 for information or help with general questions. The COVID-19 hotline is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CT, 7 days a week. DHHS will continue to share new information via the DHHS website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.


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