Health officials urge people to get tested and celebrate the New Year safely

We are less than a week after the Christmas holiday. Many people traveled home or hosted dinners despite CDC recommendations.
Published: Dec. 28, 2020 at 4:52 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - We are less than a week after the Christmas holiday. Many people traveled home or hosted dinners despite CDC recommendations.

A spokesperson for the Douglas County Health Department, Phil Rooney, said it is too soon to know if there will be a spike in COVID-19 cases directly related to the holiday.

“Because we know usually five to seven days is the time period when a person who has been exposed and infected...when it starts to show up,” Rooney explained.

Experts suggest anyone who traveled, especially by plane, get tested after a few days.

“And then of course a person would have to test at some point after that and wait for the results to get back,” Rooney said.

If you’ve been in direct contact with someone who tested positive for the virus you should quarantine for a week and then get tested. It’s also suggested to quarantine for 10 days without showing symptoms.

“If you do the seven days with a test you still have about a 12% chance of developing an infection. So, a minimum of 10 days would be appropriate,” Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan with CHI Health said.

Compared to other states across the country Nebraska is doing well. There was not an increase in cases after Thanksgiving, and the hospitalization rate is down.

However, health officials said there are still other areas of concern.

“We have had an uptick of patients passing away. About 25 patients per day in the last 21 days,” Dr. Vivekanandan explained.

Overall testing in Douglas County has also dropped.

“Probably 25% or so. But also, the percent of positivity for the past week continued to drop. So that’s a very good sign,” Rooney added.

However, Dr. David Quimby with CHI Health said the positivity rate in the county is still pretty high. He said people should keep that in mind when planning New Year celebrations.

“So, if you have a gathering of let’s say 100 or 150 people. There’s a fairly good chance that at least somebody there is possibly able to infect others,” Dr. Quimby said.

Experts said it is best to put the large indoor celebrations on hold for at least another few months and to keep following all guidelines.

Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan - “Masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene until all of us can get vaccinated,” Dr. Vivekanandan added.

The Douglas County Health Department is still working on distributing all of its doses of the Moderna vaccine. They are expecting a larger shipment of the vaccine within the next week.

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