COVID-19 cases increasing in Nebraska

Mike Stucka
Associate Director of Pharmacy Ariane Schieber measures a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as frontline workers received second doses Tuesday at Ohio State University's East Hospital.

New coronavirus cases increased in 6.3% in Nebraska in the latest week ending Saturday as the state added 7,358 cases. The previous week had 6,925 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nebraska ranked No. 36 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 1,698,484 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 18% from the week before. Across the country, 46 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Testing has changed around the holidays, making comparisons difficult. Labs and testing sites closed. People traveled or prepared for the holidays instead of getting tested. Some counties and states didn't report data as quickly.

Within Nebraska, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Dundy, Red Willow and Knox counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Douglas County, with 2,575 cases; Lancaster County, with 1,193 cases; and Sarpy County, with 760. Weekly case counts rose in 52 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Douglas, Hall and Platte counties.

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

The share of Nebraska test results that came back positive was 9.6% in the latest week, compared with 9.8% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 71,567 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 66,577. 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 33 counties, with the best declines in Cass, Sarpy and Gage counties.

In Nebraska, 68 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 110 people were reported dead.

A total of 175,620 people in Nebraska have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,737 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 22,132,396 people have tested positive and 372,428 people have died.