Nebraska virus deaths could surge if current trends continue



A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


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A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The recent surge in coronavirus cases in Nebraska has prompted one expert to predict that the number of deaths in the state linked to the virus could nearly quadruple by the start of 2021.

Dr. James Lawler, a director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security in Omaha, said Friday that the state could have more than 2,500 COVID-19-related deaths by January if current trends continue without more stringent public health measures or better compliance with the measures already in place. The state has so far reported 652 deaths linked to the virus.

“If the outbreak continues at this pace, and we don’t implement much more stringent public health interventions — or at least if we don’t get people to adopt those behaviors, which ultimately is the most important thing — I think we could easily see three times the total we’ve seen so far,” he said to the Omaha World-Herald.

Nebraska reported 1,087 new virus cases Saturday to give the state a total of 70,732 cases so far. The rate of new cases in the state ranked sixth-highest in the nation Saturday.

And the number of people hospitalized with the virus set another new record at 612 Saturday. That is more than 2.5 times the spring peak of 232 set on May 27.

The rate of new cases per 100,000 Nebraska residents over the past two weeks registered 694.56 on Saturday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 795.71 new cases per day on Oct. 17 to 1,019.29 new cases per day on Saturday.

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