DHHS Wednesday COVID-19 Update

News Release
For Immediate Release: 11/18/2020

Leah Bucco-White, (402) 471-9356,
Khalilah LeGrand, (402) 471-9313,


LINCOLN – The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases stands at 103,805 as of Nov. 17. A total of 86 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in the last seven days, for a total of 816. A total of 54,604 Nebraskans diagnosed with COVID-19 have since recovered.

Daily hospitalizations over the last seven days increased by 118, for a total of 978. The daily average number of new positive cases for the last seven days is 2,296 compared to a daily average of 1,953 new cases last week, and 1,241 and 852 cases in prior weeks.

 Oct. 27Nov. 3Nov. 10Nov. 17
Total positive cases65,37674,06087,733103,805
Current hospitalizations  436673860978
Total deaths620660730816

“Hospitalizations are spiking and we have to bend that curve," said Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. “Hospital staff provide critical care for us when we need it most, and right now they are flooded with patients and telling us they need our help. Decreasing COVID-19 transmission by limiting our in-person interactions and taking other preventive actions are some of the ways we can support them."

Wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and avoid crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces.

New Directed Health Measure in Place

A new Directed Health Measure (DHM) went into effect for the entire state Monday. It temporarily postpones many elective surgeries requiring an inpatient hospital stay. In addition to the restriction on elective surgeries, the new DHM includes all of the health measures that took effect on Nov. 11.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced this week a five-phase series of DHM restrictions aimed at protecting hospital capacity for urgent medical care as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase. The color-coded phases are determined by the percentage of COVID-19 inpatients in Nebraska hospitals over a 14 day rolling average.

Currently more than 20% of beds are needed for COVID-19 patients, putting the state in the orange threshold, which is the second most restrictive level of directives.

An outline of the state's five phases is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmadcuih3j2xlyd/Color-Coded%20%20Phase%20Comparison%2011.13.20.pdf?dl=0.

DHHS COVID-19 Dashboard Enhancements

The DHHS COVID-19 Dashboard was updated with a tab showing hospital capacity data over the past six weeks and the daily active hospitalization thresholds for enacting additional directed health measures.

Thanksgiving Preparations

Nebraskans are urged to adapt their holiday plans in light of the ongoing pandemic.

To best ensure safety, opt to gather with only those in your household, deliver food to high-risk friends or family, and shop online with merchants instead of in-person at stores.

Anyone hosting or attending a gathering is urged to keep it small and local, plan to be outside if weather permits, wear masks if meeting those from outside your household, and avoid contact with others in the 14 days before and after any gathering.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more suggestions to adjust plans available online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

Anyone with COVID-19, or who may have been exposed to COVID-19, should avoid in-person gatherings, as well as the three Cs – crowded places, close contact and confined spaces.

Test Nebraska, COVID-19 Hotline Holiday Hours

All Test Nebraska locations and the Test Nebraska hotline will be closed next Thursday, Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving, and will re-open for regularly scheduled hours on Friday, Nov. 27. There will be no interruption in lab services during the holiday.

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 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.

The COVID-19 hotline will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 26-27. The COVID-19 hotline is available to help with general questions and outside of the holiday is available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CT, seven days a week, by calling (402) 552-6645, or toll-free (833) 998-2275.

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.


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