Panhandle health officials report that COVID-19 caseloads aren’t showing any signs of coming down in western Nebraska and are further stretching the health care system.
Scotts Bluff County Health Director Paulette Schnell announced 444 new cases, bringing the total of active cases to 2,343.
COVID-19 deaths in the Panhandle have significantly increased in the past month. On Friday, PPHD confirmed five additional deaths, which Schnell said occurred from October to the present. Eighteen deaths were reported earlier this week, making for a total of 47 deaths in the Panhandle.
Officials said 14 deaths are pending confirmation, which can take some time as death certificates are reviewed by state officials.
Panhandle Health Director Kim Engel said death rates have increased by more than 400% in the Panhandle over the past month.
The Panhandle has an overall cumulative positivity rate of 20.7%, compared to a cumulative positivity rate of 7.1% a month ago. Positivity rate is important because a higher percentage of positive cases suggests higher transmission and a higher likelihood that there are additional COVID-19 cases in the community with people who have not yet been tested or have chosen not to get tested.
The World Health Organization recommends that test positivity remain at 5% or lower when considering measures such as reopening, according to a Harvard Global Health Institute article. Asked what was a “good positivity rate,” Engel said that New York state has a positivity rate at about 3% and is “pulling out all the stops” to ensure that COVID-19 cases remain low.
At this time, she said, “it’s going to take a long time to (bring the cumulative positivity rate) back down.”
The Panhandle weekly positivity rate began climbing steadily at the end of September, climbing to 62.6% on Nov. 1 before falling to 53.8% the following week.
Engel said that the Panhandle has 171 staff beds, and COVID-19 hospitalizations are at 82, which means that 47.9% of the beds in the Panhandle are filled with coronavirus patients, much higher than the 25% rate that Gov. Pete Ricketts is using on the state level as a marker to implement stricter health measures.
Ambulances in the area have also been affected, according to information released by the Gering Fire Department in a press release and in the PPHD call. Mayor Tony Kaufman and others urged Gering residents to strictly adhere to CDC recommendations and state directed health measures to curb the threat of exposure. Residents are asked to avoid crowded places, close contact and confined spaces.
The Gering Fire Department has seen the call volume increase by 42% in November alone because of COVID-19 patients.
Milestones in Nebraska's coronavirus fight
See the top stories on coronavirus in Lincoln and Nebraska since the pandemic first affected the area in March.
Saturday would have been the first of those days this fall. They're all special here, of course. But there's something about that first one.
Doane volleyball marked the first college athletic event in the state in the pandemic era, winning a pair of five-set matches.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department's COVID-19 dashboard back-dated most of the new cases to Sunday; the weekly total hit 99 after only two days.
The total number of cases is up sharply, from 171 the week that ended Aug. 22 to 333 last week.
Voluntary tests were offered to 600 inmates last week, and 332 agreed to be tested. Tests will be offered to the remaining inmates at the facility starting Sunday.
In the suit, the players ask the district court for an injunction that would keep the Big Ten from enforcing its postponement.
Lydia and Carlos Tibbs were an inseparable duo known for their joyful embrace of life and of the people they met. "They covered you with their love."
The dashboard shows the first case on campus was reported Aug. 16 at the tail-end of student move-in for the fall semester. The highest number of cases reported in one day was Wednesday, where 31 cases were reported.
Kevin Hopper, a technical consultant in Information Technology Services, fell ill earlier this summer and was hospitalized for about a month before he died Aug. 19, according to an obituary.
LPS canceled East's varsity and JV volleyball practices and postponed games until at least Sept. 8 after a large number of team members had to self-quarantine.
People awaiting their COVID-19 test results from late last week shared with the Journal Star on Monday that their results were delayed, but each had a variation on the explanation that was given to them for the reason.
LPS officials said none of the cases are a result of community spread in the schools -- in all the cases identified so far, the person was exposed outside the school.
Planning for the fall semester began with one question in mind: "What do we care about doing in the fall?"
North Star coach Tony Kobza attributed some of his team's missteps on Friday night to unique practice circumstances. But it's not an excuse, he says.
Athletic director Bill Moos confirmed to the Journal Star that 51 employees in his department of more than 330 are being furloughed for four months.
The newly confirmed cases mark the most confirmed in a day so far this week, which remains on pace to be the fourth straight week of declining new cases.
LPS reported four positive COVID-19 cases during the first week of school, compared to 35 cases in Omaha-area schools.
NU will have to dip into its healthy "rainy day" financial reserve. Bill Moos: "It's as rainy as I've ever seen it."
Last year, 8,000 people attended Lincoln Calling, which included 93 bands and solo artists in five venues over three nights.
Condon's questioning of Lopez arose after Madsen's Bowling and Billiards' attorney raised the issue in a court case over the health department's closure of the business for violating the mask mandate.
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren outlined in more detail the reasons behind the conference's postponement of fall sports.
The Lincoln City Council suspended its rules, then held a public hearing to appoint Pat Lopez as health director, a decision drawing the scorn of local residents already critical of her decisions.
On the first day of remote learning, 14,322 students Zoomed into classes, collectively spending more than 3 million minutes on Zoom, though some had problems getting onto Zoom.
The 16 cases confirmed Friday marked the lowest number of new daily cases this week, and Lancaster County headed into the weekend positioned to have the fewest weekly total of new cases since late June.
Contests hosted by LPS schools will be limited to immediate family only, which is defined in a news release sent out Friday afternoon.
On Wednesday, elementary schools were the only ones with all students in attendance, with just sixth- and ninth-graders at middle and high schools.
The decision comes one day after Scott Frost and three other Big Ten coaches went public with their desire to play football this fall.
"I think the matter is, by and large, over,” Madsen's attorney J.L. Spray said of the dispute between the business and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
A Nebraska school official declined to comment when the Journal Star asked for comment from UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green.
At around 7:55 a.m., officers arrived at Madsen's, marking the first time police have been involved in the weeklong squabbling between the local business and city over alleged violations of directed health measures.
“I think overwhelming is a good word,” said Lincoln Education Association President Rita Bennett, especially for teachers who all want to do things well. “It is very, very frustrating. No one wants to drop a ball.”
Information contained in property tax protests gives a rare look into what kinds of declines some national companies are seeing in Lincoln.
Even before the first day of school, three Lincoln Public Schools teachers working in their buildings have tested positive for COVID-19.
The second quarter for OPS will begin Oct. 26. Only Football and volleyball go beyond that date, but both will be in the postseason stage.
There are three options for ticket holders who don't wish to attend games this season.
Staff from the health department returned to the business on Thursday and observed continued violations of the directed health measure, according to the latest closure order.
In a closed third-floor courtroom with dozens watching online, the Lincoln City Attorney's Office laid out its case Wednesday for why a judge should order the closure of Madsen's Bowling and Billiards for violating directed health measures.
About one-third of the surveys drew responses, with questions also focused on community preparedness for emergencies and individuals' financial resilience.
Tony Kobza nervously paid close attention to the Lancaster County COVID-19 statistics every day the past three weeks, fretting that the rising…
In a letter signed by Doug Peterson and 30 other attorneys general, they say Gilead has been "unable to assure a supply of remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country amid this pandemic."
Guidelines range from extending the sideline box for football players to the 10-yard lines to no switching of benches between volleyball sets.
The ARC on July 28 reaffirmed its commitment to move forward with the fall season and is sticking with it as every other small-school conference pulls the plug.
The City Attorney's Office late Monday afternoon asked a judge to order a Lincoln bowling alley owner to comply with local health directives, …
Protesters briefly blocked Gov. Pete Ricketts’ car as it left the state Capitol on Monday, then set up a "classroom" on the Capitol steps to i…
Elementary and middle school students — especially those from low-income schools — have shown the most interest in learning remotely when Linc…
Other highlights from the meeting include Week 0 teams set to start practice; COVID-19 and wild card points; and transfer rules.
The touring version of the iconic ’60s rock ’n’ roll band brought the "fun, fun, fun" to Pinewood Bowl on Sunday even amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As of late afternoon Friday, forms to learn remotely had been submitted for about 16% of LPS students, kindergarten registrations were down by about 120 students compared with last year, and statewide applications for home schooling are up 21%.
A group of Community Breastfeeding Educators found dads from their cultural communities to share a pandemic safety message with their fellow dads to help keep families free of the virus.
"We're treating it like a civil matter," Lincoln City Attorney Yohance Christie said Saturday evening. "In order to enforce a civil matter, you go to court."
The Omaha site will seek about 350 participants for the COVID-19 vaccine trial. “They’re the true heroes here.”
Jocelyn Herstein lives in Lincoln but has a German fiance living in Switzerland; they and others like them bear the brunt of travel restrictions.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has moved its COVID-19 risk dial to the low-orange range, still considered high-risk but an imp…
Adi Pour said Nebraska Attorney General's Office questioned her ability to implement a mask requirement.
The in-person portion of the fair looked much different Thursday, with none of the usual extras including rides, carnival games, food stands and entertainers. It seemed that there were more animals on the fairgrounds than people.
Come Saturday, 27 of the state's 93 counties will be clear of most restrictions prompted by the coronavirus.
More than half of COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks have hit those between 21 and 29.
Students will attend in-person classes two or three days a week based on their last name.
Last week, New York. This week, Chicago. COVID quarantine orders could limit your travel plans.
The housing unit where the outbreak occurred is separate from the intake area where more than 100 protesters were processed over the weekend, a spokesperson said.
So far, 376 employees have asked for some kind of accommodations from LPS, including requests to work remotely, take leave or modify their work spaces with plexiglass barriers or additional PPE.
Despite the closures announced Saturday, many young Lincoln residents went out in the area that night to drink and dine. Many were seated in outdoor areas, but some bars had a number of patrons indoors as well.
Lancaster County broke last week's record for the most cases of COVID-19 reported in a single week.
Two downtown bars, along with the Railyard commons area, have been ordered to close for violations of the city's directed health measure.
Celebrations were in order for Lincoln Southwest graduates as they streamed out of Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday morning. Inside, it was time to get to work.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, faculty and staff will have access to COVID-19 testing this fall through a University Health Center p…
Getting to celebrate high school graduation at an in-person ceremony was the first "yes" Marysa A. Barnhill heard in a while after a constant …
A recent spike of cases in Thayer County was linked to golf tournaments in Clay Center and York.
What if an effective early indicator of the spread of COVID-19 isn't the number of nasal swabs performed, or contacts interviewed, but instead what has been flushed down the toilet?
District officials have a contact tracing and notification plan in place for the “likely event” that a student or staff member is exposed to coronavirus, Steve Joel said.
City health officials are considering restricting gathering sizes, revising sports requirements, requiring masks in public spaces and even clo…
Wearing a mask is "just one tool" in controlling the virus, along with social distancing and hand-washing, Gov. Ricketts said, and "I think we get better compliance if you don't make it a mandate."
City health officials sounded an alarm Friday about rising coronavirus cases in Lancaster County, pushing the local risk dial into the orange,…
"Ten percent of Nebraskans have been tested," the governor said. "That's a good number. That's progress."
Plans are to host 4-H exhibits and contests on the first weekend of the fair, and FFA activities on the second weekend. The fair might "go dark" during the week, director Bill Ogg said.
Nebraska has tested roughly 250 student-athletes and staff, and there have been eight positive tests, including five football players.
The decision by Lincoln Public Schools to bring staff and students back to school in the fall, Brent Toalson worried, would pose too great a chance that he could expose his family to the virus.
So far this month, 65% of the positive cases have been in people under 40, interim Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Director Pat Lopez said Friday.
A Nebraska woman claims a county official from Kansas and his wife may have exposed her to COVID-19 at a hotel pool in Valentine.
State Sen. Mike Moser was working outside in his yard the night before Mother’s Day when it became apparent something was wrong.
If you are hoping antibody testing for COVID-19 might help in getting things back to normal until there's a vaccine, you're likely to be disap…
Parents who oppose having students and staff wear masks when school resumes in the fall asked the Lincoln Board of Education to reconsider the…
The Event Center pre-party will feature Omaha country band Silas Creek with food trucks on the grounds and beverage sales.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus will look a lot different for the fall 2020 semester.
"Customers may be encouraged to wear face coverings, but may not be refused service for failure to do so," according to Taylor Gage, the governor's spokesman.
Much of what the coming school year will look like -- masks for students or remote learning -- depends on the "risk dial" maintained by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
Less than a day after announcing plans to hold drive-thru graduations at high schools, Lincoln Public Schools made arrangements for modified in-person ceremonies to be held at the arena.
Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday announced the further loosening of restrictions implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus in Nebraska,…
The risk dial remains in the moderate category, but the dial inched closer to the low risk area.
Nebraska could suffer nearly $3.7 billion in agricultural income losses this year due to the coronavirus if economic conditions do not improve…
Pat Lopez, interim director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, stressed the importance of tests for those who gathered among large crowds.
Inmates in Nebraska's 10 prisons may voluntarily seek coronavirus testing even if they show no symptoms, Nebraska Department of Correctional S…
Officials said they plan to test all National Guard personnel who have been on duty assisting police in Lincoln and Omaha.
Nebraska now has a second case of a coronavirus-related complication that affects children.
Lincoln's first person identified to have a case of community spread COVID-19 had his family tested for antibodies. Both the results and what they mean are mixed.
Eleven employees and one patient have tested positive for the coronavirus at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Lincoln.
Though state-level data about the effects of COVID-19 on Nebraskans remain incomplete, the numbers indicate minorities were diagnosed with the…
On a calendar void of the Red-White Spring Game, the Lincoln Marathon and the blue jackets of the annual state FFA convention, the loss of the…
"I wouldn't be running this test in this laboratory if I didn't believe in it," said CHI Health St. Elizabeth lab director Becky Croner. "... If there is any reason I don't believe the results are correct, we pull it and run it again."
No official city fireworks this year, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said. What do you think of the decision?
Six weeks ago, a Boy Scout from Firth launched a 3-D printing project to help the sore ears of frontline workers during the pandemic; he's shipping free EarSavers all over the country now.
After 30 days at the medical center and three weeks of isolation at her father’s home in west Omaha, Emma Hutchinson was allowed to resume eating solid food and say goodbye to “Fred,” her nickname for the feeding tube.
More than 1,000 residents have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Lincoln and Lancaster County, health officials announced Friday.
Monday's flyover was part of a pre-planned training flight and included more than 30 Nebraska hospitals, ending with those in Lincoln.
Prosecutors charged Nyadak Tut, of Lincoln, with assault on a health care professional, a felony.
A Lincoln woman exhibited many of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 but tested negative -- doctors say she's not the only one.
For Marci Davison of Carmela's, and other Lincoln business owners, reopening after a trying six weeks marked a milestone of sorts.
Gov. Pete Ricketts called the suggestion "ludicrous."
The city begins its new directed health measure on Monday. It runs through June 30.
Lincoln and Lancaster County will implement eased restrictions beginning Monday, after Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and her health director relu…
Gov. Ricketts said he has tried to balance restrictions with a regional loosening of mandates that preserves citizen willingness and responsibility, an approach sometimes described as "the hammer and the dance."
The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Lincoln and Lancaster County has led a national coronavirus case tracking system to label the area as a pote…
Months of planning and entire careers in public health have prepared the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department for what one employee called "the most defining moment of most of our lives."
Cain revealed on a video posted to Huskers.com that some of her immediate family members have recovered after bouts with coronavirus.
Viengxay Khuninh, a worker at a Tyson plant in Dakota City, developed a cough, then a fever, last month. Less than a week later, he was dead.
“The stories that came from those families, you could hear the common themes — I’m frightened, my hours were reduced, I’ve never been in this situation before,” said Foundation for LPS President Wendy Van DeLaCastro.
So why did one customer come to Gateway Friday? "Sick of sitting at home. Wanted to get a new pair of kicks. My wife’s at work. I’ve got nothing to do.”
At least 48 of those who have died in Nebraska thus far because of the coronavirus were residents of long-term care facilities.
How the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic are similar — and different.
Bryan Health said Wednesday that it has started treating COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from people who have recovered from the disease.
As bad as the losses from major event cancellations are, economists say the economic damage they cause is likely to pale compared to the effects of the widespread closings of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses.
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