Report Finds Meaningful COVID Information in Short Supply. More First Responder Tests Monday

Rother:" we wish our data was more robust, however we do not have the people power to report on more data sets right now"

WAYNE – After living for weeks with a face mask, socially distanced from friends and relatives, and terrified of catching a dreaded coronavirus known as Covid-19 – thousands of Nebraskans struggle to see light at the end of the tunnel as the media body count mounts. Here in northeast Nebraska, as well as across the state, residents are still trying to piece together a puzzle that appears to have missing pieces. Important questions remain unanswered, like how many are hospitalized and how many have recovered. Instead, all we can find is numbers of new cases and a rising death toll. This past weekend is a good example.


On Friday evening, Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD) which includes people living in Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne Counties, reported 10 new positive cases.  On Saturday it was 3 and by Sunday evening there was 1 more. By Sunday evening, The Health District had conducted 366 tests resulting in 45 positive cases (Cedar – 6, Dixon – 22, Thurston – 14, and Wayne County – 3), with 282 negative reports, and 39 tests currently pending results.


But nowhere do we learn how many are hospitalized or if any residents have recovered. The statewide statistics provided on the Nebraska Health and Human Services web site is similarly vague – listing 46,314 , 8,315 positives and 93 deaths. Repeated requests to the Governor by this radio station, for hospitalization and recovery information, have been ignored.


When asked about hospitalizations and recoveries on Friday, Julie Rother, Director of NNPHD said “we wish our data was more robust, however we do not have the people power to report on more data sets right now – hopefully in the near future.” Expanding on her answer, Rother says she only has a staff of 3 – including herself, making calls on case investigations and contacting close contacts to get them quarantined and isolated.  She says they are working on improving data reporting to include details about the numbers who have recovered but right now the focus is going to protect the public including moving Personal Protective Equipment to the front-line workers.  She says data is very important and she’s working on a plan for providing more data to the public in the near future.


Meanwhile, a “mass testing” event of 125 First Responders is planned for Monday morning at the Wayne Fire Hall – similar to the one held several weeks ago. We will be there to report on that testing procedure as well as learn more, as our community moves through the Covid-19 crisis.