COVID-19 cases continue slow decline in Lincoln | local government

Lancaster County saw another slight drop in COVID-19 cases last week.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported 633 cases for the week ending Saturday. That was down more than 3% from the previous week, and it was the second straight weekly drop in the number of cases.

The number of hospitals also fell, with the rolling daily average of COVID-19 patients at Lincoln hospitals falling from 47 last week to 41 on Tuesday. There were 35 patients hospitalized on Tuesday, the lowest number since July 7.

The Department of Health said its risk dial would remain in the low orange range for the third week in a row. This position on the dial indicates that the risk of spreading the virus in the community is high.

Despite declining cases and hospitalizations, Lancaster County is in the “high” category for community levels of COVID-19 according to updated tracking from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends people wear masks indoors and on public transportation in communities in the “high” category.

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Due to the designation, employees and the public are required to wear masks at the Robert V. Denney Federal Building in downtown Lincoln.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird earlier this month began requiring city employees to wear masks, but the mandate does not extend to the public.

Local COVID-19 numbers are generally consistent with statewide numbers.

The CDC reported there were 3,599 new cases in the seven-day period that ended Friday, up from 4,030 the previous week. The number of hospitalizations increased slightly, from an average of 177 per day to 185 per day.

The number of cases in Nebraska remains at relatively low levels compared to the country, about 25% below the American rate. Nationally, COVID-19 cases fell about 5% last week, with nearly two-thirds of states reporting declines, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Official counts are considered undercounts, with many infected people not testing or using home tests that are not reported to public health agencies or included in official counts.

All of this has made it difficult to determine the next trend of the pandemic. The number of cases is currently higher than it has been at this time in each of the past two summers.

Dr. James Lawler, co-executive director of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said growth in COVID-19 cases has slowed a bit in Nebraska and parts of the country.

“The reality is that we’re in kind of a weird time of year where you have a lot of forces working against each other,” he said. “(Summer) has generally been our lowest time of COVID activity.”

It’s possible Nebraska will see a drop in case numbers before the fall, but Lawler said, “If I had to guess, we’re probably not going to see a huge drop in case numbers and activity from the illness for the next two weeks.”

Lawler said the start of the school year next month is expected to increase cases by September. Overall, the trend is similar to last year, pointing to a tough fall and winter ahead.

The Omaha-World Herald contributed to this report.

Watch now: Lincoln’s COVID-19 risk dial returns to orange

COVID-19 cases drop slightly in Lincoln but rise statewide

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