COVID-19 Cases on the Rise as State Stops Reporting Data in Less Populated Counties

Aug. 4, 2021, noon ·

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COVID-19 cases in Nebraska are up 35% this week, according to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A weekly COVID update from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said the state added roughly 2,000 cases in that timeframe. Last week, the state added just more than 1,400 cases.

The update also shows something public health experts have known: the delta variant accounts for the majority of all cases.

Hospitalizations are up this week as well. 158 Nebraskans are hospitalized because of the virus, which is an increase of more than 30 beds from the previous week.

More than 50% of the state's total population is fully vaccinated, according to DHHS. On the bright side, the number of partially vaccinated people keeps growing, meaning more Nebraskans are getting their first shot. Right now, 4.4% percent of the state’s population is partially protected, which is an increase of 0.4% from the previous week.

The CDC recommends indoor masking for counties deemed as high or substantial transmission, under new guidance. Currently, the CDC classifies 42 Nebraska counties as high and eight counties as substantial. Hastings is the only town over 10,000 people in the state that is not located in a high or substantial transmission county.

The weekly DHHS update comes on the heels of the state stopping counties with less than 20,000 residents from publishing county-specific COVID-19 data. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that means only 17 of Nebraska’s 93 counties can still release the county data. The justification from the state is to protect potentially identifiable information under a strict state law. The 20,000-person benchmark comes from a federal standard.