West Central Nebraska COVID-19 Cases Increase, Public Health Director Blames Gatherings and Lack of Mask Wearing

Oct. 26, 2020, 4:44 p.m. ·


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West Central Nebraska is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases as the virus continues to spread in rural areas. The West Central District Health Department reported 60 new COVID-19 cases and 15 hospitalizations over the weekend.

West Central District Health Department Executive Director Shannon Vanderheiden said COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have continued to rise over the past month. Most of the cases are tied to gatherings.

"It's those environments where if simple measures were put into place, social distancing, wearing facial coverings, we probably would not see the number of cases that we're currently seeing," Vanderheiden said.

Vanderheiden and other public health leaders are trying to educate the public on prevention. A unified media conference in North Platte on Wednesday will answer questions about facial coverings.

"We know that there is information circulating about how masks can cause issues with brain damage and those types of things," Vanderheiden said.

She said it’s up to Nebraskans to prevent local healthcare systems from getting overwhelmed.

"We have a choice to make," Vanderheiden said. "We can be selfish or selfless. I think it is critical that we make a choice to not only protect ourselves, but to protect those around us, so that we are doing our part to prevent the spread."

Vanderheiden said unfortunately not everyone is making that choice and that’s why cases are increasing.