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Nebraska's COVID deaths rising, but a mistake made one day look especially bad

Nebraska's COVID deaths rising, but a mistake made one day look especially bad


An apparent jump in Nebraska’s deaths from COVID-19 is the result of a mistake, the Douglas County Health Department said Friday.

Two COVID tracking websites reported a significant increase Thursday.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services dashboard showed an increase from 1,703 to 1,811 from Wednesday to Thursday.

The New York Times, whose numbers differ slightly, reported an increase from 1,743 to 1,869.

The addition of more than 100 deaths would have represented Nebraska’s largest toll from a single day of new reported deaths, if the numbers had been accurate.

But the Douglas County Health Department said Friday it had mistakenly reported a list of deaths as COVID-related.

The department said it received cases to review of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 at one time. The intent, the department said, was to confirm that COVID was not the cause of death and that it was not listed on the death certificates.

However, the county mistakenly entered the deaths in the state’s data system as coronavirus related.

The department said it was correcting the error.

Even though the latest tally was in error, Nebraska’s deaths have continued to climb, surpassing 1,700 people.

The number of deaths stood at 1,086 as of Dec. 1, according to the New York Times.

Also FridayOn the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the latest figures from the state show that Nebraska has received 133,896 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but administered less than half of those — 60,170.

A total of 55,483 people received a first dose, and 4,687 people have received two doses.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, speaking at a press conference Friday on the coronavirus, said the program is going as well as can be expected considering the logistics and scheduling needed to avoid potential adverse reactions among health care workers.

Ricketts asked people to be patient but said the pace will be ramping up — with more than 20,000 vaccines administered in the last couple days.

“We are getting the vaccines out,” the governor said.

With federal funds from the second relief bill, Ricketts said Nebraska will have the resources it needs for mass vaccinations.

Ricketts said the pharmacies administering vaccines to Nebraska’s long-term care facilities should have given at least the first dose around the state by Jan. 28.

Community Pharmacy of Gretna has made a first run through 94 of the 97 facilities under its responsibility, the governor said. Walgreens will handle its first doses at 217 facilities by Jan. 25 or 28, Ricketts said. CVS will reach its 64 facilities with initial doses by Jan. 18.

Ricketts said people age 75 and older are starting to receive the vaccine in three public health districts. Those are: Panhandle Public Health District, Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department and West Central District Health Department based in North Platte.

Myra Stoney, health director of the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department, estimated that some 250 people age 75 and older received the vaccine in her district this week.

“That’s 250 people that have vaccine working in their bodies,” she said.

Kim Engel, director of the Panhandle district, said about 600 people in the 75-plus group received the vaccine there.

“We all just want more vaccine more than anything,” she said, “because we’ve got eager people.”

Ricketts praised the TestNebraska COVID-19 testing system and urged more people to get tested.

Ricketts said TestNebraska has plenty of capacity to do more tests.

The governor said the State of Nebraska initially bought 540,000 tests, then purchased 660,000 more. Test Nebraska has administered 592,000 tests, and Ricketts said the state will purchase more as it needs them.

Our best Omaha staff photos of January 2021

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