Cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations for the coronavirus dipped last week in Nebraska after case numbers ticked up the week before.
The state recorded 1,738 cases during the week ending Dec. 28, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That was down significantly from the 3,982 cases reported the preceding week. Last week’s tally was the first time that cases had been in the 1,700 range since early November.
Cases generally have been trending upward since late October, although weekly counts have been up and down in recent weeks.
Case counts, however, are widely considered to be underreported, with many people either not testing or using at-home tests that aren’t reported to health departments. Holiday disruptions in testing and data reporting also may be impacting case trends.
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Nationally, cases also were trending down slightly. Nebraska stood roughly at the top of the lower third of states in terms of case rates. Cases, however, were trending up in parts of the Northeast, and several Southern states also have seen increases. The proportion of tests nationwide that are positive, or the positivity rate, also has ticked up.
A new variant, XBB.1.5, now is becoming dominant in the U.S., according to the CDC. But that variant remains a minor player in the four-state region of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri and has not yet appeared in Nebraska variant surveillance reports.
Nationally, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remained relatively flat last week, increasing 1% from the week before.
In Nebraska, the daily average of people hospitalized with the virus dropped to 217 last week, down 17.5% from 262 the week before.
The two other respiratory viruses circulating in the state, influenza and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, also were trending downward, though both remain elevated. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ respiratory illness dashboard indicated that both positive tests for flu and visits to emergency rooms for flu-like illness were dropping.
Statewide, more than 555,000 cases of COVID have been reported since the pandemic began three years ago. One additional COVID-related death was reported in the state last week, bringing the pandemic total to 4,685.