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State DHHS releases weekly COVID-19 case count update

Nebraska City News-Press

The latest statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 194,632 as of Feb. 9. There have been 55 COVID-19-related deaths in Nebraska reported in the last seven days, for a total of 1,986. To date, a total of 141,239 Nebraskans testing positive for COVID-19 have recovered. ​

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline in the last week, with Nebraska hospitals caring for an average of 265 COVID-19 patients a day over the last seven days. Averages in prior weeks were 322, 402, and 444 COVID-19 patients.

The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 294, compared to 543 daily cases last week, and 564 and 744 cases a day in recent weeks. Averages for positive cases are now based on test dates instead of lab reporting date, which provides a more precise view of COVID-19 cases. Data from previous days is updated as lab results are received. 

Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said, “We are still in the early days of this vaccination effort and so it's critical we continue to limit virus spread. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home when you're sick are our best defense against COVID-19."

Anyone who has not completed vaccination and may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and get tested.

Nebraskans can be #BigRedResponsible by wearing a mask. Additionally, watching your distance, washing hands often, staying home when you're sick, and avoiding the 3C's – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces – are still critical to limiting infection.

All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups.

Phase 1B includes several priority groups. Right now, local health departments are offering vaccine to Nebraskans 65 and older. This phase also includes people 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.

Nebraska is receiving 31,625 first doses this week, including 14,625 Pfizer and 17,000 Moderna doses. This includes 2,925 Pfizer doses released from the Federal Pharmacy Program that had been reserved for long-term care vaccinations. The remaining 8,775 doses will be released over the next two weeks and be distributed among local health departments for Phase 1B first dose vaccinations.

Second dose shipments scheduled for this week total 23,500.

A number of Nebraska pharmacies are scheduled to receive their first shipment of vaccine doses at the end of this week as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Pharmacies participating in the program will receive a total of 5,700 first doses and will be able to vaccinate those 65 and older.

Nebraskans are cautioned that retail pharmacy doses will be very limited for some time.

DHHS is allocating doses via a vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

Nebraska's 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are being given to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, others may experience headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days.

Those receiving a first dose are reminded a second dose is needed to complete vaccination, which research shows provides the best protection against COVID-19 symptoms and potential complications.

The Pfizer vaccine was 95 percent effective and the Moderna vaccine 94 percent effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Two doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine approved for those 18 and older.