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LINCOLN – The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 117,682 as of Nov. 24. There have been 134 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the last seven days, for a total of 950. A total of 59,002 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have since recovered.
Over the last week, daily hospitalizations have remained steady and at their highest levels of the pandemic, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 968 COVID-19 patients a day.
The daily average of new positive cases over the last seven days is 1,982, compared to a daily average of 2,296 new cases last week, and 1,953 and 1,241 cases in prior weeks. It's expected that the spike of new COVID-19 cases over the last month will continue to strain hospital staff and resources in the coming weeks.
“COVID-19 hospitalizations remain at their highest levels and will continue to be a challenge for our health care workers," said Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. “We can help support them in our actions and protect our loved ones by reducing transmission of the virus.
“This Thanksgiving many of us have changed our plans in light of the pandemic. The sacrifices we're making now will allow more families to be together in the future. It's important to remember that distance doesn't mean disconnected. We can pick up the phone. We can deliver food and we can look forward to the next time we'll be able to safely gather again."
Nebraskans are reminded to wear a mask, watch your distance, wash hands and avoid the 3Cs – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces – every time you're away from home.
To best ensure safety over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 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 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. DHMs Continue
A five-phase series of Directed Health Measures (DHMs) remain in effect for the entire state. DHM restrictions are aimed at protecting hospital capacity for urgent medical care as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high.
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. Many elective surgeries requiring an inpatient hospital stay are restricted, along with capacity of indoor gatherings and other measures.
An outline of DHM restrictions is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmadcuih3j2xlyd/Color-Coded%20%20Phase%20Comparison%2011.13.20.pdf?dl=0.
New Test Nebraska Testing Pod in Lincoln
The third drive through testing pod designed for mobile COVID-19 testing during winter months has been installed in Lincoln on the Gateway Mall campus.
Five drive-through and five walk-up pods will be deployed to support testing in the state. The drive-through pods provide a heated, enclosed center unit for healthcare workers and enclosed garages to administer tests to drivers and passengers who remain in their vehicle. The freestanding walk-up model allows medical personnel to collect data while minimizing contact with patients.
The first walk-up pod is in use at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and two of the drive-through pods are at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha and South Omaha campuses in addition to the new Lincoln pod.
Test Nebraska, COVID-19 Hotline Holiday Hours
All Test Nebraska locations and the Test Nebraska hotline will be closed on 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.