Both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increased in Nebraska last week, with the number of Nebraskans hospitalized with the virus hitting a five-month high.
Nebraska recorded 4,120 new virus cases for the week ending Friday, up 14% from 3,599 the previous week, according to an analysis of data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The increase in case counts continued the pattern the state has seen since early June, with cases hovering between about 3,000 and 4,000 cases per week. But some of those ups and downs could be due to inconsistencies in testing and reporting, because hospitalizations have been on a steady upward trend since April.
Not all COVID cases are counted because some sick people don’t get tested and many use home tests that don’t add to official counts.
People are also reading…
At the local level, Douglas County has moved to the “high” community level based on a CDC formula that determines the impact of the virus on communities. It is based on new cases, the number of people hospitalized with the virus in an area, and overall hospital capacity. A handful of counties in northeast, south-central, and west-central Nebraska are also considered to be in the “high” tier.
An average of 206 Nebraskans were in hospitals with COVID last week, up 10% from the previous week. The last hospitalizations were so high in early March.
The good news is that hospitalized patients are now much less likely to die than in previous waves of COVID. The national inpatient mortality rate has dropped in the last year from more than 12% to about 3%.
That’s because vaccines, while they don’t protect against all infections caused by newer, more cunning variants, still do a great job of protecting against the worst outcomes of the disease: hospitalization and death.
To maintain that protection, health officials emphasize the need for people to get booster shots when eligible.
Those over the age of 50 and some immunocompromised individuals over the age of 12 are currently eligible for two boosters in addition to their original vaccinations. Healthy people between the ages of 5 and 50 are eligible for a booster in addition to their original series. A CDC tool helps people determine when they can get boosters.
Some health officials have called for booster shots to be made available to healthy people under the age of 50. But federal health officials have been focused on making new vaccines targeting the new BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants available this fall, reportedly beginning in September. . Those who have already received a fourth injection will still be eligible for the reformulated boosters.
Nebraska recorded three more COVID deaths last week, bringing its death toll from the pandemic to 4,366.
The state has recorded more than half a million confirmed cases of COVID.