Panhandle Unified Command says the region has seen a dramatic rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases since the holidays. There were 229 new cases in the 2 weeks ending Dec 22 but 406 for the 2 weeks ending yesterday.
There were 291 new cases in the past week, including 25 in Dawes County, 23 in Box Butte, and 9 in Sheridan County. 13 are currently hospitalized. There have been 252 COVID-related deaths during the pandemic with 29 more awaiting verification.
Also of concern is the fact that over 20% of the new cases were young people with 44 cases in those ages 10-to-19 and 14 in those under 10-year old.
The number of new COVID-19 cases statewide in Nebraska continues to rise, but is still lower than the peak seen last winter. The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has more than doubled over the past 2 weeks from 744 per day on December 20 to 1,735 on Monday, according to CDC data. A year ago, the rolling average was nearly 2,400.
Hospitalizations are also rising with only 16% of ICU beds in Nebraska still available, but that’s also still better than last year when availability dipped into the single digits.
Despite studies showing that vaccines sharply reduce the chances of getting the Omicron variant and lower the odds of needing hospitalization even more, less than 40% of Panhandle residents are vaccinated
The state dashboard shows that statewide, 65% of Nebraska are fully vaccinated with another 6.5% partially vaccinated.