OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Nebraska has been steadily declining over the past several weeks, but it remains at a high level that worries health experts.
Dr. James Lawler with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security said it appears that more Nebraskans are doing things like dining out less often and wearing masks in public. And he said it helps that a number of Nebraska cities recently passed mask mandates.
But he said it's important for Nebraskans to remain vigilant about maintaining social distancing because virus trends could turn negative before vaccines become widely available to the general public in the spring.
"We have a vaccine rolling out, but that doesn’t change the overall picture,” Lawler said to the Omaha World-Herald. “Things could still turn south pretty easily.”
Nebraska said 693 people were hospitalized with the virus on Monday. That number has been generally decreasing since the state set a record of 987 on Nov. 20, but it is still three times higher than it was on Oct. 1.
The state reported 483 new virus cases and 45 deaths Monday to give the state 149,344 cases and 1,418 deaths since the pandemic began.
Nebraska has gone from having the fifth-highest rate of infection in the nation earlier this month to ranking 17th on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Over the past two weeks, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska decreased from 1,772.14 new cases per day on Nov. 30 to 1,289.57 new cases per day on Monday.