DHHS Friday COVID-19 Update

News Release
For Immediate Release: 10/2/2020

Leah Bucco-White, Communications, (402) 309-4157, leah.bucco-white@nebraska.gov  

Khalilah LeGrand, Communications, (402) 853-1320, khalilah.legrand@nebraska.gov

COVID-19 vaccine planning, Halloween safety tips

LINCOLN – The state case total, as of 5:45 p.m. CT today is 46,977, an increase of 3,815 from last Friday. There were 25 new COVID-19-related deaths in the state, for a total of 493.  A total of 34,090 Nebraskans diagnosed with COVID-19 have since recovered.

The COVID-19 data dashboard experienced a significant increase in test results over the past two days. The increase is related to results from the Nebraska Medicine Clinical Lab and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) flowing into the dashboard after a recent security incident affected some of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Nebraska Medicine health system platforms. During the outage, UNMC, NPHL and DHHS developed an alternative process to ensure local health departments continued to receive positive results to conduct contact tracing until systems were back online.

Continue to Take Preventive Actions to Limit Spread

COVID-19 Vaccine Planning

Vaccine will play a critical role in protecting ourselves against COVID-19 as well as slowing the spread of the virus. DHHS, local health departments and other partners are planning for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in Nebraska. Part of that planning includes an efficient distribution network for the vaccine so as soon as the first doses arrive, they can quickly get into the arms of Nebraskans. DHHS has not received notification of an arrival date for the vaccine.

Vaccine supply will be limited early on and initial doses may be targeted toward certain priority groups including those critical to the COVID-19 response, providing direct care, as well as those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, and essential workforce. As supply increases, more people will be able to receive vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook in mid-September to assist states with their planning.

COVID-19 Testing

Those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms can receive a free test through Test Nebraska. 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 use TestNebraska/es for Spanish, to schedule an appointment at one of more than 60 Test Nebraska locations across the state.

Nebraskans with general questions about testing or who need help completing the online assessment can call the Test Nebraska hotline at (402) 207-9377.

Halloween and Holiday Planning

This year, Nebraskans are encouraged to adapt celebrations such as trick-or-treating and fall activities in light of the ongoing pandemic.

The CDC offers recommendations that lower the potential for COVID-19 exposure during Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations. Ways to modify favorite traditions and celebrate safely this fall are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween.

Costume masks are not a substitute for a protective cloth face mask and should not be worn unless made of two or more layers of breathable fabric covering the mouth and nose and doesn't leave gaps around the face. All other costume masks should not be layered over cloth masks because it can make it hard to breathe.  

Anyone with COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should avoid in-person celebrations.

Nebraskans seeking information or help with general questions can call the DHHS COVID-19 information hotline at (402) 552-6645, or toll-free (833) 998-2275. 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, http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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