Coronavirus cases increasing in Nebraska

Mike Stucka
Jose Garcia, 68, who has been sedated and intubated for COVID-19 since Nov. 13, is visited by his daughter, Carolina Garcia, a nurse at Memorial Medical Center on Nov. 30, 2020, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Carolina says she wipes away tears that form after she whispers in his ear.

New coronavirus cases increased in 7.7% in Nebraska in the latest week ending Saturday as the state added 13,245 cases. The previous week had 12,294 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nebraska ranked No. 4 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,336,636 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 17.2% from the week before. Across the country, 36 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Within Nebraska, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Red Willow, Perkins and Pawnee counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Douglas County, with 4,224 cases; Lancaster County, with 2,107 cases; and Sarpy County, with 1,360. Weekly case counts rose in 41 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties.

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The share of Nebraska test results that came back positive was 12.7% in the latest week, compared with 12.9% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 96,432 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 96,092. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Across Nebraska, cases fell in 48 counties, with the best declines in Box Butte, Dodge and Morrill counties.

In the state, 205 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 84 people died.

A total of 138,568 people in Nebraska have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,194 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 14,581,337 people have tested positive and 281,186 people have died.