COVID-19 cases surge 16.8% in Nebraska

Mike Stucka

New coronavirus cases leaped in Nebraska in the week ending Sunday, rising 16.8% as 3,514 cases were reported. The previous week had 3,009 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nebraska ranked No. 21 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 632,914 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -22.9% from the week before. Across the country, 3 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 Polk, York and Grant ​counties​. Adding the most new cases overall were Douglas County, with 789 cases; Sarpy County, with 626 cases; and Lancaster County, with 375. Weekly case counts rose in 39 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Sarpy, York and Polk counties.

>> See how your community has fared with recent coronavirus cases

The share of Nebraska test results that came back positive was 4.9% in the latest week, compared with 3.7% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 71,411 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 81,385. 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 46 counties, with the best declines in Lancaster, Douglas and Dodge counties.

In Nebraska, 34 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 48 people were reported dead.

A total of 197,236 people in Nebraska have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 2,002 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 27,640,282 people have tested positive and 485,336 people have died.

Heritage Middle School choir teacher Samantha Speakmon (center) gets her first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Licking County Health Department public health nurse Brittany Goldsberry (right) with her son Jacob nearby during a vaccination clinic for school district faculty and staff in Ohio on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Speakmon looked forward to the protection vaccination offered and not having to worry about the risks of coronavirus as much.