State DHHS releases weekly COVID-19 update
The state case total, as of 5:45 p.m. Central Daylight Time Friday, June 26, is 18,524, marking an increase of 933 from last Friday. During the past seven days, the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the state increased by 22 to 266, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) data dashboard.
Local health departments are reporting deaths and cases in their jurisdictions. In the event of a discrepancy between DHHS dashboard data and deaths or cases reported by local public health officials, data reported by the local health department should be considered the most up to date.
In addition, 12,698 Nebraskans, diagnosed with COVID-19, have since recovered.
Phasing in of expanded testing through TestNebraska is complete. Any Nebraska resident who needs a test should complete the online assessment at TestNebraska.com or Testnebraska/es for Spanish, and schedule a visit to their nearest testing site to receive a test. TestNebraska locations, dates and times for the week of June 29 are listed at TestNebraska.com and TestNebraska/es.
Briefing Addresses Community Cares Program and Routine Childhood Immunizations
Yesterday Gov. Pete Ricketts and DHHS Chief Executive Officer Dannette R. Smith discussed Nebraska's Community CARES program. The initiative allocates $85 million to support community organizations such as food banks, shelters, and mental health care providers as they face increased demand for their services due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Forty million dollars in Stabilization Grants will offer direct assistance to charitable and provider organizations that have experienced losses or increased expenses due to the pandemic. Forty-three million will go to Response and Recovery Grants, which will support services such as meals, housing, behavioral health care, outreach to underserved populations, and more. Finally, Healthy Places Grants totaling $2 million will be made as one-time payments to child care providers and centers of worship to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies.
Potential applicants can visit dhhs.ne.gov/CommunityCares for more information. DHHS will also have a call center available to answer questions about the grants as of Monday, June 29. The number is (833) 220-0018.
Additionally, Nebraska's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Anthone, and Caryn Vincent, interim deputy director of the Division of Public Health, joined the Governor to emphasize the importance of keeping kids' immunizations up-to-date. During the coronavirus pandemic, routine childhood vaccinations have decreased nationwide.
As communities are opening up, it's important for parents to work with their health care provider to make sure children stay up-to-date on routine vaccines. If your child is due for a well-child visit or an immunization, call your health care provider's office, local clinic, or health center and ask about how they are offering visits during the pandemic.
Many health care providers are taking extra steps to make sure visits are safe, such as:
- Having all staff and patients wear masks
- Reducing the number of people in waiting rooms
- Scheduling well-child visits at a different time of day than sick visits or at a different location
- Allowing only one adult to accompany a child to appointments
- Offering telehealth appointments with separate, in-office appointments for immunizations
Vincent said DHHS operates the federally-funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program, which provides vaccines to eligible children at no cost or low cost at various providers throughout the state. More information on the VFC program is available on the DHHS website: dhhs.ne.gov/immunizations or by calling (800) 798-1696.
Race and Ethnicity Data Expected Monday on DHHS Dashboard
The COVID-19 data dashboard continues to be enhanced since appearing on the DHHS public website March 27.
Speaking at the Governor's Coronavirus briefing May 29, CEO Smith said the dashboard would track race and ethnicity as they relate to COVID-19 by the end of June. Race and ethnicity data will be added to the dashboard on Monday. Four data sources contribute to supplying the information: laboratory reports; the contact tracing data system, which gathers where an infected person has been and with whom they may have been in contact; the Nebraska Health Information Initiative, and vital records.
A snapshot of the distribution of COVID-19 among different races and ethnicities in Nebraska is currently available at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Documents/COVID-19-Summary-of-Race-and-Ethnicity-Categories.pdf.
In addition, a new feature makes the dashboard more user-friendly whether you are using a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. It will automatically detect the device a person is using to view the dashboard and adjust the format and size to fit the device.
This enhancement will also go into effect Monday along with a new link to the dashboard - https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/ece0db09da4d4ca68252c3967aa1e9dd . Current users will want to update their bookmarks.
Directed Health Measures Still in Force
Eighty-nine of 93 Nebraska counties are currently in Phase 3 of reopening. Dakota, Hall, Hamilton, and Merrick counties remain in Phase 2. The content of the Phase 4 DHMs was announced recently, but an effective date has not been set.
Outlines of Phase 3 and 4 DHMs are available at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/COVID-19-Directed-Health-Measures.aspx along with a document that outlines all phases. Updated guidelines associated with these next steps are also posted at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/COVID-19-Nebraska-Guidance-Documents.aspx.
Deciding to Go Out
As communities and businesses are opening, Nebraskans may be looking for ways to resume some daily activities as safely as possible. While there is no way to ensure zero risk of infection, it is important to understand potential risks and how to adopt different types of prevention measures to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Review these recommendations from the CDC - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html .
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-faq.html .
Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Public health officials continue to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing is crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.
Tools and resources can be found on the DHHS website - dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and CDC's website – https://www.cdc.gov/covid19 . In addition, DHHS opened a statewide COVID-19 information line to help answer general questions and share the latest information and resources with Nebraskans to help keep them informed. The number is (402) 552-6645 or toll-free at (833) 998-2275; hours of operation are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CDT, 7 days a week. DHHS will continue to update Nebraskans through the DHHS website and on Facebook and Twitter as we have new information. The CDC's website is also a good resource for COVID-19 information - https://www.cdc.gov/covid19