Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Nebraska's COVID case numbers drop, breaking nine-week streak of increases

  • Updated
  • 0

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska fell 7% last week, ending a nine-week stretch of rising case numbers.

The state recorded 2,998 new virus cases for the week ending Friday, compared to 3,240 the week before, according to figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases fell in more than two-thirds of the states and were down 12% nationally.

Nebraska’s case levels also remain relatively low for the nation, about 20% below the U.S. rate.

Cases continue to explode in neighboring Wyoming, which last week had both the nation’s highest case growth and highest case rate.

Iowa is among the states that saw increasing cases, though its per-capita case rate remains among the lowest in the country.

Meanwhile, some who have long avoided the virus recently have tested positive. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and first lady Susanne Shore tested positive for COVID last week and reportedly were experiencing mild symptoms. Ricketts has been vaccinated and received a booster shot, according to his spokeswoman.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leader of the U.S. government’s COVID pandemic response effort, also tested positive for the coronavirus last week. Fauci, 81, has been vaccinated and twice boosted and likewise was reporting mild symptoms.

Dr. James Lawler, an executive director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security, said there likely are a number of reasons that the virus is catching people who so far have avoided it.

One obvious reason, he said, is that there is more of the virus circulating than is being picked up on officially reported tests.

Many people infected with COVID aren’t getting tested for it, and many of those who do test are using at-home antigen tests that aren’t routinely reported or included in official counts.

“We have a much cloudier view into what’s really happening in overall community numbers,” Lawler said. “It’s probably true that infection rates in communities are quite a bit higher than what the official numbers would lead you to believe.”

In addition, he said, the versions of the virus now circulating — BA.2.12.1, which last week made up an estimated 64% of reported cases nationally, and the newer BA.4 and BA.5 — are much more transmissible than previous strains. That goes for the original Wuhan strain and even the BA.1 version of omicron.

In addition, many people now are months out from their last dose of vaccine or their last booster. “We know with these vaccines,” Lawler said, “immunity wanes over time, especially with some of these newer variants.”

Immunity induced by COVID-19 infections also wanes over time, he said. Some people who contracted the delta or BA.1 strains now are getting the newer strains.

During the week ending June 6, the Douglas County Health Department reported 772 initial COVID infections and 126 reinfections. Those are defined as a second positive test more than 90 days after a prior positive test at any time after Sept. 1. The Health Department has tallied a total of 5,816 reinfections among county residents.

At the same time, the vaccines continue to provide significant protection against serious illness and death. In December, state health officials reported that Nebraskans who were fully vaccinated but not boosted were 11 times less likely than those who had not been vaccinated to require hospital care. Those who had been vaccinated and boosted were 46 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who hadn’t gotten any shots.

In Douglas County, some 39,017, or 10.3%, of fully vaccinated residents ages 5 and older had reported a breakthrough infection as of June 6. The percentage who died of COVID-19 was .045%.

Additionally, Lawler said, people are taking fewer precautions against the virus than they were six months or a year ago. Fewer people are masking indoors. In such spaces, even a masked person has a greater risk of catching COVID.

Nebraska COVID-19 hospitalizations also were down slightly last week, with a daily average of 124 hospitalized patients, down from 129 the previous week.

Nebraska recorded seven new COVID deaths, bringing the toll of confirmed or probable deaths for the pandemic to 4,330. Total reported cases are inching close to half a million, topping 494,000.

0 Comments

Build your health & fitness knowledge

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

Reporter - Metro News

Henry is a general assignment reporter, but his specialty is deep dives into state issues and public policy. He's also into the numbers behind a story, yet to meet a spreadsheet he didn't like. Follow him on Twitter @HenryCordes. Phone: 402-444-1130.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Tens of thousands of suburban swing voters who helped fuel the Democratic Party’s gains of recent years are suddenly becoming Republicans. Overall, more than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year. That's according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. They include both former Democrats and those previously unaffiliated with either major party. The phenomenon is playing out in virtually every region of the country — red states, blue states, in cities and in small towns — in the months since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump.

Furious about surging prices at the gasoline station and the supermarket, many consumers feel they know just where to cast blame: On greedy companies that relentlessly jack up prices and pocket the profits. Yet most economists say corporate price gouging is, at most, one of many causes of runaway inflation — and not the primary one. Others include: Supply disruptions at factories, ports and freight yards. Worker shortages. President Joe Biden’s enormous pandemic aid program. COVID 19-caused shutdowns in China. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And, not least, a Federal Reserve that kept interest rates ultra-low longer than experts say it should have. Most of all, though, economists say resurgent spending drove inflation up.

Reproductive freedom was one of the key goals of the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s. The women who fought for those rights recall an astonishing decade of progress from about 1963 to 1973. It included the right to equal pay, the right to use birth control, Title IX in 1972, and then Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a right to abortion. Now they are not only shocked at the rollback of that right, but worried that if a right so central to the overall fight for women’s equality can be revoked, what does this mean for the progress women have made in public life in the intervening 50 years?

The Supreme Court's decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion is causing anxiety for people in same-sex marriages, particularly those with children. The decision last week overturning Roe v. Wade didn't directly affect the 2015 ruling that paved the way for gay marriage. But lawyers say now they're getting questions from same-sex couples worried about the legal status of their marriages and keeping their children. Alabama lawyer Sydney Duncan has received dozens of emails and calls in just a few days. Justice Clarence Thomas has called on colleagues to reconsider cases that allowed same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception.

The race to be Illinois’ next governor is also a battle among billionaires, including two whose names won’t appear on Tuesday's primary ballot. Republican candidates Darren Bailey and Richard Irvin each has a benefactor with a different vision for the party. Businessmen Ken Griffin and Richard Uihlein have combined to pour more than $60 million into the race. Griffin backs Irvin, a former prosecutor and first Black mayor of Chicago's largest suburb. Uihlein supports Bailey, a farmer and state lawmaker who fought pandemic measures such as mask mandates. Billionaire Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association have spent millions trying to ensure Irvin isn’t the GOP nominee. Bailey is the opponent Pritzker would rather face in November.

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The June 24 ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access. The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.

Vice President Kamala Harris has spent weeks warning that the Supreme Court decision undermining the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling could open the door for sweeping new restrictions on privacy. She argues the fallout could affect birth control, in vitro fertilization, gay marriage and that other new restrictions could affect the right to vote. The nation's first female vice president has emerged as a leading White House voice on abortion rights along with President Joe Biden. Harris' efforts on abortion rights come after she has struggled with other thorny policy problems that Biden assigned to the vice president, including immigration policy and expanding voting rights. Both issues have stalled in Congress.

Listen now and subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS Feed | Omny Studio

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

all

Breaking News

Huskers Breaking News

News Alert