The number of COVID-19 cases dropped again in Nebraska last week, hitting the lowest level since late May.
The state recorded 1,772 new cases last week, down from 2,121 the previous week and 2,936 the week before, according to state data reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nebraska’s current case rate is the 15th lowest among the states.
In general, cases in both Nebraska and the United States have been falling since mid-July. Case levels in the state also are at half the rate they have averaged for the pandemic and less than 10% of the peak level hit in January.
But the unpredictable pandemic has produced such lulls before, only to see cases spike again, particularly in late fall and early winter.
Case numbers at this time last year, for instance, were three times higher than they are now.
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And it’s widely acknowledged that current case reports are an undercount. Fewer people are getting tested for COVID, and more are using at-home tests that aren’t recorded in official tallies.
While President Joe Biden declared the pandemic over in a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday, he noted that COVID is still a problem for the United States.
Indeed, despite the fact that cases and hospitalizations in Nebraska and the U.S. are down, the nation last week still recorded a daily average of 392 COVID-related deaths. The toll, while down from past peaks, has averaged more than 400 lives lost a day from June through August. The virus remains among the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Health officials continue to urge people to get booster shots when they become eligible. The latest bivalent booster, which is aimed at both original COVID and its omicron offspring, now is available in pharmacies and doctors’ offices. The Pfizer booster is recommended for people 12 and older and the Moderna shot is recommended for those 18 and older.
It’s not yet clear how many people will get the boosters. Health officials caution that the vaccines’ protection, as well as protection from prior infections, wanes over time. Nebraskans’ uptake of the shots has dwindled with each new dose. More than 1,254,000 people, or 67.7% of all Nebraskans, now are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, meaning they have gotten their initial two-shot series. But only 53.4% of those fully vaccinated have gotten a first booster and only 35.9% of those 50 and older with a first booster had gotten their second booster.
An average of 171 Nebraskans were hospitalized with the virus last week, down 1.9% from the week before.
The state added two new COVID deaths last week, bringing the total number of confirmed or probable deaths to 4,490. The state has recorded 535,000 confirmed cases of COVID.