HEALTH DEPARTMENTS: Complete Reporting in Short Supply During Covid-19

As the numbers grew, we began to ask the question – “have there been any recoveries?” and ”how many are hospitalized.”


WAYNE – For months Nebraskan’s have been bombarded with daily body counts resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Early on, local health departments began providing totals on the number of new positive cases in each county and the total number of accumulated positive cases within our four-county health district.

As the numbers grew, we began to ask the question – “have there been any recoveries?” and ”how many are hospitalized.”


Wayne Daily News dot Com posed this question to Governor Rickett’s during several of his daily coronavirus updates. And in fact, as time passed, the State of Nebraska did update its web site which now includes the number of current hospitalizations, which is 166 … and the total hospitalized during the epidemic, which is 935.

But during this ordeal, at least locally, it has been impossible to ascertain if anyone has recovered. Answering our most recent request, Julie Rother, Directory of the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department cites difficulty in determining the definition of “a recovery” but now estimates that 75% of those who have tested positive have recovered.

Rother has further explained, on several occasions, that because of limited staff, it has been impossible to determine hospitalizations and recoveries. She says a new staff person is being added this week to assist with data review.

She also states – “Another factor that challenges us with our data analysis is the fact that we do not monitor people who live on the reservations and, while the health departments for the Tribes do provide COVID-19 data to us, it takes time to analyze that data.”


While it would have been nice, perhaps ever re-assuring, to have more complete data during the early stages of the pandemic, we should remain grateful for the resources that are available, including medical professionals and first responders.

There is no doubt that there will be many lifestyle changes going forward and many lessons learned. Should there be a new outbreak of Covid-19, hopefully accurate data will available to paint an accurate picture of not only the threat but the recovery.