Ricketts: Nebraska Hospitalizations Down; Carter: NU Enrollment Up

Dec. 7, 2020, 4:34 p.m. ·

Hospitalization data (Source: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services)

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Governor Pete Ricketts says he thinks hospitalizations are down because Nebraskans are taking more precautions against COVID-19. And University of Nebraska President Ted Carter says enrollment is increasing, despite the pandemic.

As of Sunday, 768 people in Nebraska were hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s down from a peak of 987 reached Nov. 20. In a news conference Monday, Ricketts was asked why he thinks the trend is down.

“Nebraskans are being more cautious. It’s certainly anecdotally what I see. Nebraskans are slowing down. When I talk to businesses that’s what they tell me as well – that Nebraskans are slowing down, they’re not going out as much, and that sort of thing. So I think people are being more aware and taking more steps – I think for example you see more mask wearing as well,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts also said falling hospitalizations reflect a trend in the upper Midwest. Although hospitalizations are down, weekly deaths from COVID-19 continue to increase in Nebraska, reaching a new record of 184 for the week ending Dec. 4, compared to the previous record of 139 two weeks before that. Ricketts said deaths tend to lag behind hospitalizations, and he’s hopeful that figure will go down as well. And he said with the holiday season continuing, this is not the time to ease up on taking precautions.

Meanwhile, University of Nebraska President Ted Carter said that enrollment at the university has grown, in contrast to other universities in the region.

“Where most of the Midwest universities saw enrollment drop, often as much as double digits, especially in incoming freshmen, more significantly enrollment drops across the Midwest and across the nation were in first generation students and ethnic minorities. And we had growth in all of those areas. An overall enrollment growth of one percent, an overall enrollment growth of over two percent for Nebraska students, and a significant enrollment growth in first generation and ethnic minorities,” Carter said.

Carter said applications for next fall are up 7 percent systemwide. He also said the university has done well in limiting the impact of COVID-19 on 51,000 students and 16,000 faculty and staff, with only one staff member and one student hospitalized. There have been about 3,000 positive tests among students and staff, including nearly 1900 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, nearly 500 at the University of Nebraska Omaha, just under 250 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and satellite locations, and just over 400 at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.