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109 new coronavirus cases reported in Lancaster County; UNMC chancellor says state can 'expect an uptick'
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109 new coronavirus cases reported in Lancaster County; UNMC chancellor says state can 'expect an uptick'

From the Milestones in Nebraska's coronavirus fight series
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For the second day in a row, Lancaster County reported triple-digit coronavirus cases Thursday as hospitalizations and the community's infection rate remain high. 

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department confirmed 109 new COVID-19 cases for a pandemic total of 6,641, but it has not reported any new deaths.

Documented recoveries from coronavirus climbed by 80 to 2,587. 

Lincoln hospitals cared for 67 COVID-19 patients Thursday including 41 county residents, and 10 of the 67 patients needed ventilators, according to the Health Department.

The rate of positive cases for the week remained over 14%, a level Scott Holmes of the Health Department called concerning last week.

Health Department officials last week attributed elevated infection rate and hospitalizations to the effects of outbreaks that followed the return of college students.

"That was the case for a couple weeks," a city spokeswoman said Thursday. "Now, the core issue is the general public not being careful, with spread in households, workplaces, etc." 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has reported 775 coronavirus cases since Aug. 12, which accounts for one of every 10 positive cases in the county. 

Lincoln Public Schools reported five positive cases Thursday, at Adams, Maxey and West Lincoln elementary schools, Park Middle School and Bryan Community, a high school Focus Program.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Health Department officials are set to provide an update on the local coronavirus response Friday afternoon.

Statewide, there have been 46,185 cases and 493 deaths linked to the disease as of Thursday evening, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold said Nebraska probably can "expect an uptick" in COVID-19 cases as the state moves into the fall season with increased time and activities indoors.

During an evening appearance on NET with Gov. Pete Ricketts and State Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt, the chancellor also noted that there still are "plenty of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators" available to meet the challenge.

Gold said wearing a face mask will help reduce spread of the virus and said he believes "Nebraskans generally are doing a pretty darn good job" in combating the pandemic.

"We know masks work," Ricketts agreed, "but when you have mandates, you breed resistance" so he has relied on voluntary compliance and he said that has worked well.

In answer to a question about the future impact of the virus, Ricketts said he thinks there may be some change in the work environment with more people continuing to perform their work from home.

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Photos: Lincoln in the pandemic era

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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Local government reporter

Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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