New coronavirus cases plummet in Nebraska

Mike Stucka
Nurses help each other put on their personal protective equipment before entering a patient's room in the COVID-19 unit in the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System in Salinas, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

Nebraska reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Saturday, adding 9,120 new cases. That's down 31.1% from the previous week's toll of 13,245 new cases.

Nebraska ranked No. 31 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,480,981 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 10.8% from the week before. Across the country, 31 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across Nebraska, cases fell in 63 counties, with the best declines in Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties.

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The share of Nebraska test results that came back positive was 10.2% in the latest week, compared with 12.7% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 103,624 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 96,432. 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.

Within Nebraska, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Kimball, Knox and Greeley counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Douglas County, with 2,855 cases; Lancaster County, with 1,314 cases; and Sarpy County, with 961. Weekly case counts rose in 23 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Knox, Cedar and Kimball counties.

In the state, 171 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 205 people died.

A total of 147,688 people in Nebraska have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,365 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 16,062,299 people have tested positive and 297,818 people have died.