New COVID-19 cases plummet in Nebraska

Mike Stucka

Nebraska reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 5,169 new cases. That's down 13.2% from the previous week's toll of 5,952 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nebraska ranked No. 30 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 1,190,227 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -22% from the week before. Across the country, 1 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across Nebraska, cases fell in 60 counties, with the best declines in Douglas, Hall and Saunders counties.

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The share of Nebraska test results that came back positive was 5.3% in the latest week, compared with 8.7% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 112,724 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 60,603. 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 Hitchcock, Arthur and Furnas ​counties​. Adding the most new cases overall were Douglas County, with 1,647 cases; Lancaster County, with 1,015 cases; and Sarpy County, with 549. Weekly case counts rose in 29 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Dawson, Furnas and Cheyenne counties.

In Nebraska, 42 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 77 people were reported dead.

A total of 187,147 people in Nebraska have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,879 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 25,127,000 people have tested positive and 419,214 people have died.

ICU nurse Abbey Malone asks a COVID-19 patient to wiggle her toes to assess her recovery before removing her breathing tube at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, Iowa, on Dec. 7, 2020.