Coronavirus cases surge in Nebraska

Mike Stucka
Brian Gill administers a coronavirus test Oct. 16, 2020, at the University of Texas at El Paso campus. With a spike in cases in El Paso, more people are flocking to testing centers.

New coronavirus cases leaped in Nebraska in the week ending Saturday, rising 27.8% as 7,517 cases were reported. The previous week had 5,883 new cases.

Nebraska ranked No. 7 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 548,664 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 17% from the week before. Across the country, 41 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 Garden, Nance and Madison counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Douglas County, with 1,937 cases; Lancaster County, with 858 cases; and Sarpy County, with 648. Weekly case counts rose in 60 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Douglas, Lancaster and Madison counties.

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

The share of Nebraska test results that came back positive was 9.5% in the latest week, compared with 7.4% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 75,243 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 78,445.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 27 counties, with the best declines in Gage, Box Butte and Kearney counties.

In the state, 57 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 48 people died.

A total of 70,732 people in Nebraska have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 652 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 9,125,482 people have tested positive and 230,548 people have died.