New Nebraska cases of COVID-19 see uptick in recent weeks
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Over the last twelve months or so, we have kept detailed records of county-level COVID-19 cases and brought numerous reports of trends and analysis to provide you with information you need to know to understand the situation on a more local level. The situation has gone from rapid increases in specific locations, quiet months, rapid spread through the fall, and vaccination efforts quickly outpacing new cases.
Through the month of March, one year after the Pandemic began, we’ve hit a low point we haven’t seen since late August, with a 7-day average new daily case count dipping below 250. Over the last couple weeks, however, we’ve seen a slight uptick. The last seven days have had an average of 296 new cases each day, with a 14-day total of 3,828 new cases. This is just slightly up from the recent minimum set on March 21 of 3,488 cases in the previous 14 days.
Overall, things are greatly improved from where we were four months ago in November. The vaccination efforts have been moving swiftly, with the latest expectation being that all persons 16+ will be eligible for the vaccine by May 1. The fact that we have reduced the case count and increased vaccinations “is a point of optimism,” according to Michele Bever, Executive Director at the South Heartland District Health Department. “As health department staff, we’re excited to be able to provide the vaccine to people... To have the vaccine available and to have more and more, it feels like more and more each week available, more opportunities for people and the availability to work down the priority list that the state has set out, and some places working through it faster than others”
Elsewhere in the country, however, we see a more smooth transition from decreasing, plateau, to slightly increasing through the last month. A larger population size tends to yield smoother data, but the daily up-down cycle is subject to frequency of testing, which is less common on weekends. The 7-day average of new cases bottomed out at 54,248 cases on March 19, the lowest it had been since October 14, and has climbed to 66,064 in the last 7 days. Bever says that while there are hints of growing case numbers, there is still time to prevent accelerated spread. “I think we always need to consider the fact that the virus is not gone yet, it’s here and it will take advantage of the fact, when it has that advantage, to spread from person to person. And we know how to reduce that, we know what to do to keep that from happening.”
With Easter, prom season, and graduations coming up in the next two months, they encourage remaining cautious about large gatherings, especially in closed spaces. Remaining aware of social distance is still one of the biggest ways to fight the spread of the virus, even after a year of the pandemic, until we can all get vaccinated. To sign up, you can go to vaccinate.ne.gov.
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