More reported COVID-19 cases linked to bars than protests, officials say

More people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Lancaster County in the past month reported going to bars than attending protests, health officials said Monday. 
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More people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Lancaster County in the past month reported going to bars than attending protests, health officials said Monday.

Pat Lopez, Interim Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, said the surge in people under 40 testing positive in recent weeks is concerning.

Lopez reiterated statistics presented last Friday, which showed 293 of the 452 (about 65%) reported cases in June have been people in that age range. Last week, that number rose to 73%, with 25% of the cases being people under the age of 20, she said.

Channel 8 Eyewitness News asked if recent protests, which in some cases drew hundreds of people, contributed to the increased number.

Lopez said contact tracers have had few reports of people who said they attended protests.

“In general, people are pretty open about where they’ve been and where they’ve been exposed,” she said. “We haven’t had – very rarely – anyone who participated in a protest.”

Many of the cases have come from people who went to bars, social gatherings, camping or participated in team sports without masks, Lopez said. Bars have been the most common, she said.

Bars have been linked to increased case numbers in several states. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott’s announced that bars would again be shuttered, a day after the state reported a record high of nearly 6,000 confirmed cases. Some Iowa bars and other businesses are voluntarily closing their doors amid an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases. Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars Friday as its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, a new record that is almost double the previous mark set just two days ago.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced 21 new cases on Monday, bringing the community total to 1,718.

Overall, the area has seen the average number weekly cases drop to an average of 17 new cases per day. The overall positivity rate dropped from 6.6% to 6.5% – well below the state rate of 10.8%.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also saw new lows, with only 12 patients (7 from Lancaster County) in Lincoln hospitals. Two of the patients were on ventilators.

Reported recoveries increased from 547 on Friday to 599 on Monday.

 All Lancaster County residents, regardless of whether they have symptoms, can get tested through Test Nebraska.

Lopez stressed the importance of young people to get tested, even if they may not be experiencing symptoms or a serious reaction to the virus.

“It is critical especially as they’re out more and in large gatherings,” she said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, repeated shaking with chills, repeated muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.

You can begin the process of getting tested with a free online risk assessment available at BryanHealth.com and CHIHealth.com.  Testing is by appointment only. Bryan Health offers drive-through testing at LifePointe, 7501 S. 27th Street.  CHI Health St. Elizabeth offers drive-through testing site at North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd Street.

Test Nebraska will be at Lincoln at North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St., 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, July 1-2.  Testing is by appointment only.  Begin the process with a free online risk assessment at TestNebraska.com.

LLCHD will host a free testing event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 30 for minority residents and those for whom English is a second language.  Testing will be done on the south side of the building in the parking lot next to Woods Park.  Residents do not need to have symptoms to be tested.  Registration is required and appointments can be made by calling 402-441-8006.

 

 

Categories: Coronavirus, Lancaster, News