LINCOLN–(News Release, Dec. 18)–The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today reported an increase in respiratory illnesses in Lancaster County including COVID-19 and flu.
The Health Department said local data indicates the following:
- There were 233 COVID-19 cases reported for the week ending December 16, which is an increase from 201 cases the previous week. Wastewater testing also shows an increase in viral particles detected.
- Flu is increasing with a positivity rate of 10.6% for the week ending December 16 compared to 5.6% the week prior.
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) remains high with a slight decrease in positivity rate last week – 10.2% compared to 14.6% the previous week.
“We expect some respiratory illnesses will keep increasing in the weeks ahead and urge people to take everyday preventive actions along with getting vaccinated,” said Pat Lopez, Health Director. “If getting flu, COVID-19 or RSV vaccine is still lingering on your to-do list, I strongly encourage you to make the time now.”
LLCHD recommends the following actions to protect against respiratory illnesses:
- Get vaccinated. There are now vaccines are available for all three major respiratory viruses – flu, COVID and RSV.
- Take a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID or if you’re attending a gathering or event.
- Stay home if you’re sick and avoid contact with others who are sick.
- Wash hands often.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Wear a mask if you have cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older. Updated COVID-19 vaccine for this winter is also recommended for everyone age 6 months and older and is especially important for people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 including older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
RSV vaccine is available for adults age 60 and older and pregnant people. There’s also an RSV immunization for children 19 months and younger. Visit vaccines.gov to find flu and COVID-19 vaccine near you. Talk to your health care provider about whether RSV vaccine is right for you.
At-home COVID-19 test kits remain available in the main lobby of the Health Department during regular business hours. Test kits are also available at all Lincoln City Library locations.
Additional respiratory illness season resources available at lincoln.ne.gov/health include:
- Respiratory illness season FAQs – This resource provides information about flu, COVID and RSV vaccines.
- Respiratory Illness Dashboard – This new resource tracks the level of respiratory illnesses in the community and includes:
–An overview of total tests and positive tests by year along with the percentage of tests that come back positive.
–Positive and negative tests by week
–Total tests by week
–Test type by week
–Percent positivity by week
- COVID-19 Dashboard – This dashboard contains the latest data on cases, testing, wastewater surveillance, deaths and vaccination.