Over the past week, the state of Nebraska has seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations that is coming close to the May 27 peak, Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday.
On Thursday night, 231 patients were in Nebraska hospitals, said state Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone. The May 27 peak was 232. That number was down to 214 on Monday on the state's dashboard.
"That's a reminder for all of us that the virus is still here, that it's still in the community, and we still have to take our steps we've talked about," Ricketts said at a Monday morning news conference.
Keeping 6 feet of distance, wearing a mask in closed spaces, washing your hands often, avoiding crowded bars and restaurants.
The virus is spreading in people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, public health directors say.
They told the governor about a coffee group of retirees who met, some who tested positive for the virus and then spread it to 12 of their family members, causing the quarantine of some school kids.
"Just because you know somebody doesn't mean they can't give you the virus, right?" Ricketts said. "So we have to be thoughtful about how we're using our social distancing when we're out in public."
Another example was a wedding that 200 people attended and 30 came down with coronavirus, he said.
Ricketts said he's been to events where very few people are wearing masks.
"Even for a cocktail hour, I kind of get it, right? It's tough to drink a cocktail if you've got a mask on," he said. "But you can wear your mask, take it off while you sip your drink, put it back on while you're talking."
These are all ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Nebraska and are needed with the increasing numbers of hospitalizations, said Ricketts, who has opposed mask mandates while backing mask use.
Mask mandates are in place in Omaha and Lancaster County.
On Monday, the state reported 44,578 cases so far with 472 deaths. Those numbers rose from 44,063 cases and 470 deaths Sunday.
Locally, health officials reported 52 new cases Monday but no new deaths, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. The new cases raised the total number of cases to 6,346 since the pandemic began, while the death toll remained at 24.
To date, the Health Department has documented 2,435 recoveries from COVID-19.
On Monday, Lincoln hospitals cared for 62 patients, including 36 from Lancaster County. Eight of the 62 patients needed ventilators.
On Friday, Scott Holmes of the Health Department said the infection rate and number of hospitalizations have reached concerning levels.
Greater spread of the coronavirus in the community was a consequence of outbreaks caused by students who returned to campus and didn't practice social distancing measures when gathering outside of class, Holmes said.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced seven new positive tests Monday. The campus now reports 786 positive tests since Aug. 12.
Lincoln Public Schools reported 13 new cases Monday at eight schools: four at Lincoln East High School, two at Lincoln North Star High School and two at Zeman Elementary School and one each at Southeast High School, Goodrich Middle School and Brownell, Lakeview and Norwood Park elementary schools.
Photos: Lincoln in the pandemic era
No Football Saturday
Lincoln Southwest volunteer
Mother/son art project
UNL in-person class
Farmers Market influencers
Soccer With Masks
Weeping Water vs. Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan
Back to UNL
First day of middle school
First day of school
Pius X volleyball practice
City Council BLM protest
Rally and hearing
Mask Video DeLones
Lincoln High School readiness days
Lancaster County Super Fair
LPS board meeting
Meatpacking workers rally
Lincoln Northeast graduation
Gov. Ricketts address Legislature
Drive-thru Bible School
LPS virus teachers
Shrine Bowl, 7.11
Make A Wish
Masked Archie the Mammoth
First Jury Trial in Four Months
Lincoln Children's Museum Reopening
Community Learning Center
Lincoln Community Playhouse
The Kindler Hotel
Garth Brooks Drive-In Concert
Urban Air Adventure Park
Gere Branch Library
Music on the Move
Bars Opening in Lincoln
LPS Teachers Retirement
Holmes Lake Manor Horse Visit
Lancaster County Courthouse
Church Social Distancing
Boys and Girls Club food distribution
Children of Smithfield
Parkview Christian Teacher Appreciation Day
Signs on South 16th
Reopening Hair Salon
Lincoln Christian 2020 Seniors
Test Nebraska site
Drive-Thru Career Fair
Center for People In Need food distribution
Former Cop Birthday Drive-by
Masks For Truckers
O Street cruising
Bryan Mobile Testing
Teacher and Staff Parade
Air and Army National Guard COVID-19 testing
Thanks to LJS
Eagle with PPE
COVID-19 State Employee Union
Herbie Husker Runzas
Virtual City Council
Drive-by Easter egg hunt
Watch: Lincoln neighbors sing 'The Old Rugged Cross'
Good Friday Music
Masks on a walk
Watch: A timelapse of the mural at Saro Cider
COVID-19 Workplace Safety
Watch: Steffany Lien twirls at birthday party
Shirts for FEMA
Watch: Hand sanitizer rolls off Innovation Campus assembly line
No fun here
Wildlife Safari Park
Nursing Home Horses
Tower Square sign
Noyes Art Gallery
Free ice cream
Coronavirus Testing CHI
Free lunch for truckers
WATCH: Celebrating a birthday with a parade
Restaurant takeout and delivery
Barber Shop Restrictions
Virus Nursing Homes
Simpsons in the windows
Virus Outbreak Nebraska
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing
UNL Beekeeping virtual class
Lincoln Lutheran Online Teaching
St. Patrick's Day
LPS Chromebook pickup
UNL Moving Out
Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @LJSLegislature
Reporter Riley Johnson contributed to this story.
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