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Lincoln – In honor of Public Health Thank You Day, Nov.22, Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Donahue participated in a virtual press conference sponsored by the Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors (NALHD).
Recognizing the efforts of those who are serving our communities on the front lines during the pandemic, Donahue and fellow speakers Terra Uhing, director of Three Rivers Public Health Department; Jeremy Eschliman, director of Two Rivers Public Health Department, and Gina Uhing, director of Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and made recommendations to the public heading into Thanksgiving week.
“We have many accomplishments and a lot of hard work to celebrate, as public health professionals over the last two years have worked day and night to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic," said Donahue. “We've done extensive case investigations, contract tracing, testing, and helped people get vaccinations. But we can't let our guard down now. Active hospitalizations nationwide and in Nebraska have been rising since October. Getting vaccinated is the road back to normality. Nebraskans who are vaccinated are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19."
But there are encouraging signs on the horizon, said Donahue. “More than 1.1 million Nebraskans are now fully vaccinated, and an additional 600 Nebraskans become fully vaccinated each day," he said. “Since 5 to 11 year olds became eligible for vaccination, an average of 1,400 Pfizer doses are given to this age group every day in Nebraska. And on Friday Nov.19, all Americans over the age of 18 became eligible for boosters. The most frequently administered combination in Nebraska is two Pfizer shots and a Pfizer booster, which accounts for 125,000 Nebraskans who have gotten boosters."
Donahue and his colleagues reiterated that staying home when sick, avoiding crowds, frequent handwashing, wearing a mask, and staying six feet away from those not in your immediate family, as well as the vaccine, are important tools in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Public Health Thank You Day is an annual event sponsored by the American Public Health Association (APHA) to recognize the efforts of public health practitioners. This annual day of recognition first began in 2005 and takes place on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving. DHHS applauds all of its teammates and colleagues in various organizations that serve Nebraskans by working in the area of public health.