CDC: Most Nebraskans Should Mask Indoors

July 28, 2021, 11:45 a.m. ·

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COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Nebraska as the Delta variant spreads, according to the latest data release from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The state added 1,406 cases this week, meaning about 200 people tested positive for virus each day. As of last week, CDC stats had Nebraska’s daily average at 140. Nebraska also added 28 hospitalized people in this week’s data release, totaling 125 active hospitalizations.

DHHS has also now identified 403 cases of the Delta variant. That figure is up 131% from last week when there was 246 cases of the Indian variant. DHHS is only sequencing 10% of the state’s positive tests for variants. UNMC officials have said Delta makes up a vast majority of the medical center’s cases.

The CDC recommended on Tuesday fully vaccinated individuals mask indoors in areas of high transmission. Currently, the CDC’s website lists 36 Nebraska counties as high risk, and four counties as substantial risk.

Those high and substantial risk counties include most large cities in Nebraska: Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney, Fremont, Hastings and most others. Basically, the counties follow the I-80 corridor and other areas home to larger towns – like Scottsbluff and Norfolk.

South Sioux City is the largest city in the state to not be listed in the high or substantial county. Much of the low risk counties come in scattered rural parts across the state.

Despite the new guidance, Nebraska leaders plan to stay the course.

“The CDC’s new guidance suggesting that vaccinated people wear masks indoors flies in the face of the public health goals that should guide the agency’s decision making," Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said in statement on Tuesday. "The CDC announcement only furthers the distrust many have with the CDC and does not help to encourage more people to get the vaccines that are helping bring the pandemic to a conclusion. The State of Nebraska will not be adopting their mask guidance.”

Lincoln's COVID-19 risk dial went into the yellow zone after weeks in the green, but the city currently has no plans to reimpose masking rules.

The CDC also recommended universal indoor masking for all in schools this fall, regardless of vaccination.