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COVID-19 cases up in Lincoln and Nebraska

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COVID-19 cases increased slightly last week in Lancaster County.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported 279 documented cases for the week that ended Saturday, 20 more than the previous week.

Hospitalizations also rose, from an average of 44 the previous week, to 49 last week, and the number of virus particles found in wastewater sampling rose slightly.

Ahead of his retirement, Dr. Anthony Fauci sat down with Adrienne Arsenault to talk about the challenges of giving COVID-19 health advice amid political divisiveness and rampant misinformation in the United States, and the threats of violence he’s faced as a result.

But the percentage of COVID-19 tests that were positive declined slightly, to 13% from 13.4% the previous week.

Health officials said the county's COVID-19 risk dial will remain in the mid-yellow range for the third week in a row.

Health Director Pat Lopez encouraged people to get the latest bivalent COVID-19 booster shot if they haven't already. According to local data, nearly half of adults age 65 and over have received the booster, but that number drops to 12% among those age 16 to 64 and 5% among children ages 5 to 15.

“Even if you’ve had other COVID-19 boosters, it’s important to get the new one now,” Lopez said in a news release. “The bivalent booster offers a big benefit. It provides protection against variants circulating in the community, which weren’t included in the previous vaccines, and it also restores the body’s immunity against COVID-19.”

COVID-19 cases drop in Lincoln but climb in Nebraska
Risk dial moves to mid-yellow amid rise in Lincoln COVID-19 cases

The trend in local case numbers is similar to that in the rest of Nebraska.

The state reported 2,051 new cases in the week including Thanksgiving, up from 1,997 the previous week and 1,746 the week before that.

But hospitalizations statewide were down last week to a daily average of 155, a significant drop from an average of 180 the previous week.

The state added 31 COVID-related deaths last week, including one in Lancaster County, a woman in her 80s who was hospitalized and vaccinated but not current on her vaccines.

The Omaha World-Herald contributed to this report.

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Stories: Health Matters in the Heartland

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Kayla Northup's family is pretty healthy, but when her kids do get sick, it's often at an inconvenient time, such as on a vacation.

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Jeremy Nordquist, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association, said hospitals still are seeing a staff vacancy rate of somewhere between 10% and 15%, with some as high as 20%.

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Just before the COVID pandemic broke out, the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Global Center for Health Security received a grant from the federal CDC to strengthen infection control training, education and tools.

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The pandemic forced medical professionals, including Nebraska-based researchers and physicians, to innovate. Some innovations likely will be around for good.

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The COVID pandemic has brought extra attention to the health care world. To help readers learn about how health care is evolving, we offer Health Matters in the Heartland.

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The pandemic accelerated a shift to more outpatient or same-day surgeries and sped the expansion of telehealth, among other changes, Nebraska health care leaders say.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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