On Oct. 28 Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD) reported a large jump in positive cases of COVID-19 in Wayne County. After the risk dial moved down earlier that day, by 7 p.m., NNPHD reported Wayne County’s daily caseload hit 20.
While NNPHD health director Julie Rother did not give the Wayne Herald an exact source for the sudden increase in daily cases, she did say that through their investigations with those testing positive, there seem to more gatherings without proper precautions happening.
“One of the things that we are identifying from talking to people that is a primary source of this increase are gatherings where the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are not being used consistently,” Rother said. “While many people are using face masks and trying to keep the six foot or more physical distancing with people outside their household, there are still many who are not.”
Nebraska has been reporting continued increases in new COVID-19 cases, causing Governor Pete Ricketts to implement changes to the DHM. Along with those changes, Ricketts and NNPHD are encouraging the public to wear masks when six feet of distance cannot be maintained and to avoid the “3 C’s” - crowded places, confined spaces and close contact.
“I would like to remind people that the best protection from using fabric face masks occurs when both people are wearing them. While wearing a fabric face mask does provide some amount of protection to the wearer the most benefit from using them is when the person who is infected is wearing one. The greatest benefit of wearing a fabric face mask (this is now based on research) is that they capture a pretty good proportion of the respiratory droplets that are released when a person breathes or speaks and cuts down on the number of viral particles that ultimately get shared into the environment and to other people,” Rother said.
Rother also stated that perhaps one of the contributing factors to the increase may be that the virus has mutated, leading to a change in reported COVID-19 symptoms.
“As the virus has mutated we are having a larger number of people report never having a fever or other serious symptoms,” she said. “That can mislead people to think that their symptoms are not COVID and they have exposed others before they realized what they were experiencing was in fact COVID. My message to the public is, be suspicious of COVID if you are having any of the symptoms on the CDC symptom list.”
The CDC list of coronavirus symptoms can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
NNPHD now was three free TestNebraska testing sites: Wakefield on Monday afternoons, Wayne on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Hartington Thursday mornings. Those who show any listed symptom of COVID-19 are encouraged to register for a TestNebraska test at testnebraska.com.