Nebraska DHHS provides weekly COVID-19 update on Dec. 8

Nebraska City News-Press

The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 142,603 as of Dec. 8. There have been 197 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the last seven days, for a total of 1,277. To date, a total of 73,592 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

In the last week, hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients have been lower than recent highs, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 805 people a day, versus an average of 910 in the prior week.

The daily average of new positive cases has remained steady in the last two weeks with a daily average of 1,773 cases in the last week and 1,787 cases the prior week, compared to 1,982 and 2,296 cases a day in the two weeks prior.

Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “Our hospitalizations remain high, so we need to keep up the good work and keep pushing this curve down. Doing the right thing by limiting our interactions and being consistent about prevention will help us get there. Bringing hospitalizations down will make a difference for our frontline healthcare workers who are providing the care we rely on."

Nebraskans are reminded to wear a mask, watch your distance, wash hands often, and avoid the 3Cs – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces – every time you're away from home.

Quarantine Directives Updated

DHHS recently updated directives to match the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations shortening the window for quarantine.

For those who've been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, quarantine can end after seven days if all of the following conditions have been met:

The person seeks a COVID-19 test on day five following their exposure and tests negative,

The person is not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and

The person continues to self-monitor for symptoms and wears a mask through day 14.

Those who've been exposed to COVID-19 but don't take a test can end quarantine when all of the following conditions have been met:

At least 10 days have passed since their exposure,

No COVID-19 symptoms have developed, and

The person continues to self-monitor for symptoms, and wears a mask through day 14.

Those testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days from when their symptoms began (if symptomatic), or from the date of their test (if asymptomatic). Isolation can end when:

The person is fever-free without the use of fever reducing medicine for 24 hours, and

Some COVID-19 symptoms may linger, but symptoms are improving.

DHMs Continue

A five-phase series of Directed Health Measures (DHMs) remain in effect for the entire state. DHM restrictions are aimed at protecting hospital capacity for urgent medical care as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high.

The state is in the second most restrictive (orange phase) of the five levels of directives. Many elective surgeries requiring an inpatient hospital stay are restricted, along with the capacity of indoor gatherings and other measures.

To move toward less restrictive measures, hospitalizations will need to remain below certain thresholds for seven days (rolling average) before DHMs are adjusted.

An outline of DHM restrictions is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmadcuih3j2xlyd/Color-Coded%20%20Phase%20Comparison%2011.13.20.pdf?dl=0 .

Vaccine Update

Pending federal approval, the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive next week. Federal forecasts indicate Nebraska may receive a combined 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by month's end.

Due to the limited supply, Nebraska is planning a phased approach to COVID-19 vaccination, focused on health care personnel and other high-priority groups, including residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

As more doses become available in the coming months, additional phases will target workers from critical infrastructure, those 65 and older, vulnerable populations, and those living in close contact with others.

More can be found in the State of Nebraska COVID-19 Vaccination Plan . Details are subject to further clarification and prioritization by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The Nebraska Immunization Program and statewide partners continue their planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.

COVID-19 Testing via Test Nebraska

Those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms can receive a free test through Test Nebraska. Symptoms can include a fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tiredness, muscle aches, headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.  

Visit Testnebraska.com , or TestNebraska/es  for Spanish, to schedule an appointment at one of more than 60 Test Nebraska locations across the state. Those with questions about testing or who need help completing the online assessment can call the Test Nebraska hotline at (402) 207-9377.

Winter Gathering Safety

Those planning to gather with those in need are advised to consider quarantine beforehand

Those who host or attend a gathering with people from outside their household are encouraged to be remain vigilant in practicing social distancing and to self-monitor for symptoms.

Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested. Everyone is encouraged to avoid the three Cs – crowded places, close contact and confined spaces.

Nebraskans seeking information or needing help with general questions can call the DHHS COVID-19 hotline, available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CT, seven days a week, by calling (402) 552-6645, or toll-free (833) 998-2275. DHHS will continue to share new information via its Coronavirus website, http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Operation White Lights

CHI Health is launching “Operation White Lights" today in honor of all those called to care during the pandemic. The state-wide movement encourages the public to display white ribbons and white lights in support of health care workers everywhere.

White lights and white bows can be placed anywhere—homes, businesses, on car antennas and worn on lapels. Through the remainder of 2020, all 14 CHI Health hospitals will be displaying white bows outdoors on campus.

White, chosen because it symbolizes unity and hope, shows appreciation for not only doctors and nurses, but those crucial in the care of COVID-19 patients including housekeepers, respiratory therapists, paramedics and others.